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Staying Healthy and Safe After a Disaster

Over the last few days and weeks, Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean islands have not only had to deal with multiple immensely destructive hurricanes, but they have had to deal with the extreme damages left to their homes and communities.

Photo by July Brenda Gonzales Callapaza on Unsplash

Although the destruction and damages are important areas of concern, people have not been thinking enough about their personal health. After any sort of natural disaster, there are always increased risks of drowning and contracting waterborne diseases due to new and/or excess bacteria, mosquitoes, and parasites. Gastrointestinal problems can also increase due to water contamination.

Unfortunately, not every person is either able to afford or access specialized care. But even in these cases, people can begin to start practicing and implementing precautions to reduce the risks of further injury.

If you are unable to swim, make sure you either have devices to facilitate flotation or a safe area out of reach of high waters. If you obtain any sort of cut or laceration, clean it and keep it dry and out of reach of potentially contaminated water. With the likely increase of mosquitoes, it would be best to have bug spray readily available until mosquito control is able to spray.

Preparing before a storm is also extremely important, but if not warned in ample time, it is best to gather materials as soon and as quickly as possible. Medications and important documents should be located in a secure location and readily available in case of evacuation. Plans should also be made for house protection, pet safety, infantile care, and disability needs.

Keep in mind that self-care after a disaster is extremely important too. Disasters are very traumatic events and can result in PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. Help professionals are usually accessible, but if you are unable to reach one, the best thing to do is try and find something that brings you personal relief, even if temporary.

To learn more about health risks and how to take precautions during/after a natural disaster, visit the following websites:

Hurricane Irma: How to Prepare for Health Effects – Fox News 

The Long-Term Health Consequences of Hurricane Harvey – New York Times 

Crisis Counseling After a Disaster – NBC News 

Katherine is currently a freshman at Agnes Scott College with an intended double major in Nursing and Public Health. She grew up traveling in a military family and hopes to continue her journeys by going abroad or joining the Peace Corps. When outside of school, Katherine enjoys hiking, horseback riding, and volunteering. Although she doesn't plan on having a writing career, Katherine uses writing as a creative outlet and enjoys learning about new disciplines.
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