Safety, Health & Hygiene Tips For Those Affected by Floods
Maintain hygienic and sanitary precautions until the clean-up is complete. Ensure electrical safety with the help of electricians before switching on electricity main switches or household appliances. Watch out for hidden reptiles — snakes, etc inside homes or shelves, storage spaces etc.
Precautions Related to Water-logging –
With sewage water getting mixed with all water sources, standing in these stagnant pools can lead to leptospirosis.
In areas where the water is knee-deep, add bleaching powder or salt to it. It works as an effective disinfectant and also prevents bacterial diseases from getting transmitted.
You should be especially careful if you have open wounds, they could get infected when exposed to flood waters. After cleaning, try and cover these wounds with a waterproof bandage.
If you must walk through, try to avoid gushing water. It is also a good idea to carry a stick to check the path ahead of you for bumps and holes.
For Drinking Water –
Drink only boiled water. Chlorine can also be used to disinfect water as explained by NDMA. Chlorinated water is safe to drink, and is recommended by the Directorate of Health.
If you have no access to drinking water, place containers on your terrace to collect rainwater. This can then be boiled and filtered for use.
While boiling water and then filtering it would be more effective, in cases where people have no access to gas or heating mechanisms, filtering water using the folds of a sari is better than no filtration at all.
Keep yourself hydrated with ORS solutions or coconut water. One can even make their own ORS solution by adding six teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt to one litre clean, boiled water. This is extremely important to prevent diarrhoea and dehydration.
Precautions Related to Food –
Do not eat any food item that has been in contact with flood water- only eat freshly cooked food. Fruits must be consumed after thoroughly washing them with clean water and removing the peel. Do not consume unpasteurized dairy products; look for tetra packs of milk for children.
Cook food only after washing your hands with soap- or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content, as recommended by CDC. Clean and disinfect cooking and eating utensils thoroughly with hot water and use detergent if they’ve been in contact with the flood water.
Throw out any food that has spoilt, even what has been kept in the refrigerator if the power has been out for more than one day. Take care while opening the fridge, like rotten food (especially non-vegetarian) may produce dangerous gases like methane which can exit with force.
Have freshly cooked food that’s been heated to boiling point. For those with power, avoid refrigerated food to the maximum extent possible.
Sanitise your hands before and after cooking. If there is no soap and water, an alcohol-based sanitizer should work.
In Case You’re Running out of Food –
If your food stock is running low, take a litre of boiled water and add 5-6 spoons of sugar and 1 spoon of salt. Drinking this at regular intervals will help in ensuring you are hydrated.
For those with access to medicines, stock up on ORS packets to prevent diarrhea and antiemetic drugs to prevent vomiting.
To Maintain Hygiene and Safety After the Flood:
As waters are expected to recede and rescue efforts are speeding up, here are some of the things you can do to ensure that you are safe and healthy after the floods:
If water has entered your home, it is crucial to disinfect as much as possible. Flood water contains sewage and pathogens that can case water-borne diseases.
If there is debris, be mindful of snakes and other animals which may have taken refuge there.
Check for gas leaks. Avoid lighting matches and using electric appliances unless you are sure there is no fire hazard in flood-affected residences and facilities.
Clothing and Bedding to be dry –
Moisture is fodder for bacteria and viruses. In the cases where you are unable to dry clothes due to bad weather try and use driers or steam irons to dry the bedding of your child. Also ensure that the child clothes are of cotton and dried completely before its worn by the child.
Maintaining Room Temperature –
A healthy room temperature helps in cutting down spread of bacteria to a reasonable extent. Babies are best raised in a thermo neutral environment. Hence try to maintain an ambient temperature around at 28 to 30°C for optimum results.
Mosquito and Fly Control –
Mosquitos and flies are companions of stored and dirty water. Try to seek and clear possible rain or flood water storages in and around your home. Spaces such as cooler – water store tanks, water tanks, plastic packaging containing water, flower pots etc. are first ones to look out for.