Heavy rainfall accompanied with strong winds have once again wreaked havoc on Mumbai. Floods can result in a substantial loss of life and destruction of property, not to mention they are a major health hazard as the conditions are ripe for the spread of many infections and diseases Therefore, it is prudent to be aware of the ways and means by which people can protect themselves during a deluge. Some useful tips are:
- Keep a small, portable medical kit handy equipped with some basic, but vital medicines and other necessary medications. This can be useful should there be a need for an evacuation.
- Wading in stagnant water increases the risk of getting infections such as leptospirosis. It is bacterial infection transmitted to humans through rat and cattle urine through unhealed cuts and wounds in the skin, especially in the foot. Common symptoms include fever, chills, muscle ache, weakness and vomiting.
- One should keep his/her hands and face clean and observe basic hygiene as there are chances of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, malaria and hepatitis A.
- As water levels recede, one should be wary of the health hazards posed due to insanitation, rotting animal carcasses, leakage from sewers, septic tanks and contaminated wells. Therefore, one should consume only boiled and/or treated water and other fluids.
- People should be equipped with adequate quantity of mosquito repellants, as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and may cause an outbreak of malaria.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet as they might be contaminated due to sewage and the mud.
- Discard all the food items, cans and medicines that have been exposed to rain water, as they may be unsafe for consumption and use.
- People should take preventive medications, boil water twice before drinking it and wash all produce with boiled water before cooking it. Food should not be eaten raw.
- Avoid mixing ammonia and bleach while cleaning as this can result in toxic fumes.
- Treat any open wounds or cuts with clean water, soap and antibiotic creams immediately and cover them with a bandage.
In view of the frequent occurrences of floods and other natural disasters due to environmental changes, keeping oneself and others around them safe physically and medically safe is of paramount importance. In case you feel sick, please consult a nearby doctor immediately.