What are the effects of hurricanes?
(WXYZ) – As Hurricane Florence leaves a devastating mess in North Carolina, the good news is that scores of people have been rescued. Although they may now be safe, there are hidden health hazards that they, and thousands of other residents, could be facing in the post-hurricane aftermath.
What are some of the unexpected health hazards?
Experiencing a hurricane is scary and distressing but what follows it can be just as hazardous. Often we see images of people wading through very deep waters and that can present several health issues. Because floodwater can carry germs and is often a mix of rain, sewage, and chemicals. So people can end up with boils or skin rashes on their bodies, or experience burning of the skin and eyes. Also, open wounds can become infected, and you’re more at risk to get dermatitis, pink eye, or ear, nose and throat infections.
What about drinking water and food?
Drinking water or eating food is also a concern if it’s contaminated. This can cause stomach upset and diarrheal diseases like E. coli or Salmonella infection. You could also pick up a potentially dangerous bacterial disease called Leptospirosis. If left untreated, it can lead to kidney failure, meningitis, respiratory distress, even death. So it’s extremely important to have access to clean water as soon as possible. Because we also don’t want people to become dehydrated, as that can be very serious especially for children and older adults.
Can hurricanes affect mental health?
Studies show that mental health can really be impacted. But it’s no surprise that a natural disaster can lead to extra stress, anxiety, anger, grief, and depression. Most people will recover but for some, the trauma could be long-lasting and they may end up with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Children especially can suffer, especially if they were separated from parents. Counseling can help. There’s also a Disaster Distress Helpline offered by the Health and Human Services Department that people can call to speak with a mental health professional.
- If possible, keep away from floodwater. If you have to touch the water or anything that has been touched by it then be sure to wash your hands with soap and water.
- Don’t let children play in floodwater or anything that has touched floodwater like toys. It’s best to keep them out of the area until it’s been cleaned properly.
- Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They can carry disease so be sure to apply bug spray with DEET.
- Throw out any food that has come into contact with flood or stormwater. Unless you know the water supply is safe, use bottled, boiled or treated water for cooking, cleaning and personal hygiene.
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Data pulled from WXYZ.