As soon as the rains stop and the floods recede, the process of clean-up and reconstruction begins, which is not without risk. Sara Contreras, director of nursing at the Concepcion campus of Andrés Bello University, warns about the measures that must be taken at this stage of the emergency.
For example, he explains, “When water recedes, affected areas are often covered with silt and mud that can be contaminated with hazardous materials such as sharp debris, pesticides, fuel and untreated sewage.”
In addition, potentially dangerous mold growth can rapidly flood water-soaked structures, leading to outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis A, and cholera. “For this we should think of taking measures that are applicable in the short, medium and long term. As first measures, we can consider not doing cleaning work until the water is low, not handling electrical equipment and always disconnecting switches or thermals.
Also, do not touch downed power lines, use rubber boots and gloves when cleaning, ventilate rooms, and remove food that has come into contact with water and has been in it for more than 2 hours. No refrigeration. “Discard items that you cannot wash and dry clean, such as mattresses, carpets, rugs, toys, wall and wall coverings, and paper products,” she advises.
spread of microorganisms and respiratory problems
is that stagnant water and damp material “are an ideal environment for microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and mould, which can cause diseases, provoke allergic reactions and damage the material long after the flood “.
Excessive moisture in homes is a concern for indoor air quality for three reasons. First, “Micro-organisms that enter homes during floods can pose a health hazard. They can penetrate deeply into submerged porous materials and then be released into the air or water. Contact with air or water containing these organisms can cause disease.”
Another factor to consider is that high humidity and moist materials create an ideal environment for the overgrowth of microorganisms that are always present in homes, which can lead to other health problems such as allergic reactions. Finally, prolonged increased humidity in homes can also encourage the growth of dust mites, which are one of the leading causes of allergic reactions and asthma.
“Be patient. The drying process can take several weeks, and microorganisms will continue to grow as long as the humidity is high. If the house is not completely dry, there can be a musty odor that lingers long after the flood. is a sign of proliferation of microorganisms”, advises the expert.
It is not uncommon for people to develop lung problems after a natural disaster. Faced with this, any respiratory symptoms that arise should be monitored, including: cough, especially at night, wheezing or shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain. “Get emergency medical help right away if fingernails or lips turn blue or you experience severe chest pain.”
cleanup of harmful materials
Also, as specific measures to be taken when cleaning debris or a flooded home, the academic mentions. “Don’t let your children play in flood waters or under rocks, mud or debris that are in flood waters. If you or your child has an open wound that came in contact with contaminated water, you may need a tetanus booster shot to prevent the disease.
As advice, wear rubber boots and gloves when cleaning and be sure to protect or cover any injuries. “It is important that everyone practices basic hygiene and wash their hands frequently or use hand sanitizer, especially before handling food or food containers/containers.”
contamination of drinking water and food
Another important edge is the intake and use of water and food. In this sense, Contreras stresses that “contaminated water should not be used to wash hands, wash dishes, brush teeth, wash or prepare food, make ice or prepare baby milk. Use liquid milk if possible. In addition, drinking water should be disinfected by boiling or chlorination, or other alternative water supplies (eg, bottled water) should be identified.
Contact with food or any other object that has become contaminated should be thrown in the trash, including canned food, bottled water, eating utensils, interior surfaces (especially those used to prepare baby food) ) and pacifiers, pacifiers or bottle nipples. If in doubt, throw it out!”
You may also need to throw away spoiled or contaminated food if you’ve been without power for a long time.
contamination of surfaces
Another important point is that contaminated surfaces need to be disinfected to kill germs. Household bleach (chlorine) is effective, inexpensive, and can be found at most supermarkets. The bleach solution should be left on the contaminated surfaces for at least 2 minutes before cleaning.
Cleaning, sterilization and disinfection products should not be used around children Adequate ventilation should be maintained to prevent inhalation of potentially toxic vapors during any cleaning or sterilization process.