Feature Archive

Staying Safe and Sound After the Storm

Health and safety are important after a hurricane, too. Here are some tips.

By Sean Swint
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario

For people in the path of a hurricane, the here and now is what matters. But it's important to remember life after the storm can often present as many health risks as life during the storm.

Once a severe storm is over, the immediate concerns include food and water safety, structural safety, utility and fire hazards, carbon monoxide hazards, cleanup activities, and protection from mosquitoes.

Here are some safety tips from the CDC to keep you and yours safe aftera hurricanepasses:

  • Do not drive through flooded roads. Cars can be swept away or break down.
    Listen to announcements in local media (radio, TV, or newspaper) to find out if it's safe to use tap water. Follow the instructions given for using water. Hurricanes, especially when there is a tidal surge or flooding, can contaminate the public water supply.

  • If you do not know whether the water is safe to use, boil water for one minute before you use it for anything (brushing teeth, cooking, drinking, or bathing).

  • Throw away any food that may have been touched by flood water or may be unsafe to eat because of power loss.

  • Use canned baby formulas that are ready-to-use (you don't have to add anything to them). Do not prepare infant formulas with water that has been treated with chemicals.

  • Be aware of possible structural, electrical, or gas-leak hazards in your home and in other buildings.

  • To prevent growth of some bacteria, viruses, mold, and mildew that can cause illness, disinfect and dry out buildings and the items in them.

  • Beware of electrical hazards. If water was anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power in the main breaker or fuse. Use battery-powered lanterns and flashlights instead of candles.

  • Some small engines, stoves, generators, lanterns, and gas ranges put off carbon monoxide gas and should only be used in well-ventilated areas.Carbon monoxide gas is odorless and colorless and is poisonous to breathe. Burning charcoal and wood may also emit dangerous fumes.

  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes: Wear long-sleeved and long-legged clothing, and use insect repellents that contain DEET.

Published Aug. 13, 2004.


SOURCE: News release, CDC.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/31/2005 8:32:19 AM