Be prepared...Remain calm... Be cautious!
Hurricanes are considered natural disasters. In order to safeguard your family, it is essential that you prepare accordingly with information involving pre-hurricane readiness and post-hurricane recovery efforts. The information below will help you and your family cope with the realities of such an emergency.
Hurricanes, especially if accompanied by a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply. Drinking contaminated water may cause illness. You cannot assume that the water in the hurricane-affected area is safe to drink.
In the area hit by a hurricane, water treatment plants may not be operating; even if they are, storm damage and flooding can contaminate water lines. Listen for public announcements about the safety of the municipal water supply.
Water for drinking and cooking
Safe drinking water includes bottled, boiled, or treated water. Your state or local health department can make specific recommendations for boiling or treating drinking water in your area.
Here are some general rules concerning water for drinking and cooking. REMEMBER:
- Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, or make ice.
- If you use bottled water know where it came from.Otherwise, water should be boiled or treated before use.Drink only bottled, boiled, or treated water until your supply is tested and found to be safe.
- Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute will kill most organisms.
- Water may be treated with chlorine or iodine tablets, or by mixing six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water. Mix the solution thoroughly, and let stand for about thirty minutes. This treatment will not kill parasitic organisms.
- Containers for water should be rinsed with a bleach solution before reusing them. Use water storage tanks and other types of containers with caution. For example, fire truck storage tanks, as well as previously used cans or bottles may be contaminated with microbes or chemicals. Do not rely on untested devices for decontaminating water.
Handwashing in emergency situations
After an emergency, it can be difficult to find running water. However, it is still important to wash your hands to avoid illness. It is best to wash your hands with soap and water but when water isn’t available, you can use alcohol-based products made for sanitizing hands.
Sanitation and hygiene
It is critical for you to remember to practice basic hygiene during the emergency period.
Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected:
- before preparing food or eating
- after toilet use
- after participating in cleanup activities; and
- after handling articles contaminated with floodwater or sewage.
If there is flooding along with a hurricane, the waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste. Although skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk.
- There is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater
- If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection.
- If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
- Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas.
- Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals), and do not allow children to play with floodwater-contaminated toys that have not been disinfected. You can disinfect toys using a solution of one cup of bleach in five gallons of water.