The aftermath of hurricane Dorian

Hurricane Dorian, not content with devastating Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, kept marching up the eastern seaboard of the United States and on towards Nova Scotia. 

  • A hurricane can devastate communities
    • and destroy everything that takes a lifetime to build.

If you were in an area that got impacted by Dorian, be mindful that your home may not be the safe zone that it once was.

  • There may be issues with
    • electricity, chemicals, animals (including snakes), 
    • and even infections spread by flood waters
    • or by the relative overcrowding in shelters:
      • measles, mumps, and flu, etc.

After surviving Dorian all it takes is a few safety checks to ensure survival from the aftermath of the hurricane.

If commercially prepared cans of food or retort pouches look undamaged, do the following:

  • remove labels (if possible),
  • wash with dish detergent and hot water (if available),
  • rinse with drinking water and place in a container of clean water that you heat and boil for 2 minutes OR in a bucket of diluted bleach for 15 minutes.
  • Air-dry for 1 hour before opening.
  • Store items after noting the expiration date on the label.

WASH UTENSILS that came in contact with flood water:

  • use dish detergent and hot water (if available),
  • rinse with clean water and then boil in clean water or dunk in diluted bleach.

WIPE DOWN ALL COUNTERTOPS with

  • dish detergent and hot water (if available),
  • rinse with clean water and
  • wipe down with diluted bleach.

DISCARD items that were under flood water and that cannot be washed or disinfected.

If you don’t have bottled water for drinking, follow instructions in Box 2.

You may need to get your wells tested before using your well water.

Which infections could you be exposed to in the aftermath of a hurricane?

We could be at risk of tetanus because of the potential for injury and exposure of wounds to dirt or soil that carry tetanus bacteria.

  • These bacteria exist in dust, soil, and manure in a structure protected against harm:
    • these hardy structures are called spores.
  • Spores can enter the body via broken skin.
  • Certain wounds are more likely to be contaminated with these spores:
    • wounds that contain dirt, poop, or spit 
    • puncture wounds from a nail or needle
    • burns
    • crush injuries
    • injuries with dead tissue

Talk to your physician before choosing the right vaccine for you.

Necrotizing fasciitis aka “flesh eating disease” caused by

  1. Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium found in marine and brackish waters
    • you could be at risk if you have a compromised immune system, broken skin, and you are exposed to sea water or brackish water.
      • Storm surges can push ocean water inwards – it mixes with fresh water and creates brackish water,
        • which although not as salty as ocean water, is salty enough to favor growth of these bacteria
  2. Aeromonas hydrophila
    • these bacteria are found in brackish or fresh water
    • you could be at risk if you have a compromised immune system, broken skin and you are exposed to fresh water

Wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol).

  • Take care of fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

If you have an open wound or skin infection, avoid:

  • Hot tubs
  • Swimming pools
  • Natural bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.)

Seek immediate medical care IF

  • a wound oozes or gets red or swollen, or if you have other signs of an infection – like fever, increasing pain, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, confusion or disorientation.

Crowded shelters can bring you closer to hundreds of other displaced people and put you at risk of

  • infections that can be spread by
    • air carrying
      • sneeze droplets,
      • cough droplets and
      • droplets of air
        • breathed out by people who are sick with
          • measles, mumps, flu and other respiratory infections.

You could be at risk for:

  • Measles, if you are unvaccinated
  • Mumps, sometimes even if you are vaccinated, although disease will be less severe in a vaccinated person
  • Flu, sometimes even if you are vaccinated, although disease will be less severe in a vaccinated person
  • RSV, which can cause serious infections in infants, young children, as well as the elderly

Follow good cough and sneeze etiquette as well as good hand hygiene as a good preventive measure against infections.

For more information, please visit the CDC and FEMA websites for additional pertinent information on how to protect yourselves from all health risks. Please stay safe and take care.

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