It has been almost 2 weeks since the passing of Tropical Storm Erika which poured down 15 inches of rain on our nature isle in the early hours of August 27th 2015. Tropical Storm Erika has left serious damage to the island in several communities, with individuals having to be evacuated from their homes. Natural disasters can cause morbidity and mortality rates to increase long after a disaster has passed. Hence effective management of environmental health after a natural disaster is of primary importance. By taking suitable measures to maintain a healthy environment, we can help reduce the risks of disease and death. The environmental health measures that must be considered after a natural disaster include:-
- Distribution of safe and accessible water both for drinking and domestic uses. Do not use water you suspect or have been told is contaminated for domestic purposes such as washing dishes, preparing food, and drinking. Water often can be made safe by boiling, adding disinfectants, or filtering. When properly taken care of, water can then be used for the above mentioned as well as personal hygiene for example washing of hands etc.
- Distribution and protection of safe food products. Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water, perishable foods, and those with an unusual odor, color, or texture. It is recommended that wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples, pacifiers etc. be discarded if they made contact with flood water. These items cannot be properly sanitized.
- Sanitary disposal of solid and biological waste. Solid waste products should be properly disposed of. Especially with the increase in the use of bottled water on the island. Instead of being thrown in with regular trash any items that can be recycled should be. Biological waste should be carefully disposed of in order to prevent contamination from airborne diseases.
- Ensuring that you breathe in proper air. As we may have noticed by driving or walking through certain parts of the island, there is a rise in dirt and dust particles in the air. Breathing in dust and dirt can have many negative effects on the body. In addition the odor of dead and decomposing tissue in the environment can attribute to many diseases and infections. When in such areas it is best to wear a mask or any item to properly cover your face.
We want all our citizens to be healthy for the rebuilding task ahead. Do you have any further additional suggestions for keeping healthy as we cope with the aftermath of this storm? Share with us in the comments below.