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Hurricane Aftermath Health & Safety Tips
With the record-setting hurricane season of 2005, it is never too soon to begin preparing for the 2006 season, which has been predicted to have an above average number of hurricanes.
EHA has over 25 years of experience with mold related matters and can assist you with assessment of the property and your health concerns.
EHA’s teams of qualified professionals are ready to respond immediately with offices in West Palm Beach and Tampa Bay, Florida.
Please feel free to contact us at 561-965-0250 in West Palm Beach, 813-236-8220 in Tampa Bay or via our corporate offices in Baltimore at 800-969-1441.
As public health consultants, our first concern is for the health and safety of the people who suffer through these unfortunate events. The potential for disease outbreaks and serious injury loom far after the threat of a major hurricane. As such, people affected by major weather events of catastrophic size must first be prepared to deal with the following conditions so critical to human survival including food, water and shelter.
* Infectious diseases and chemical exposure – Diseases such as typhoid and cholera are associated with the consumption of contaminated food and water supplies due to flooding of sewers and sewage systems. Viral and parasitic diseases such as Hepatitis A and Cryptosporidiosis can also become major threats to the public’s health. Contaminated flood waters may also harbor toxic chemicals including pesticides and petroleum by-products.
* CO- Carbon Monoxide intoxication – Precautions should be taken to ensure that adequate ventilation exists whenever running any gasoline powered engine such as, large pumps, generators or vehicles. Last year there were deaths associated with carbon monoxide intoxication in Florida.
* Safe food and water – Often the most critical two items essential to survival, safe food and water are often in short supply during major catastrophes. Food that has not been properly refrigerated should not be consumed. Whenever possible, drink only boiled or bottled water. If boiling water is not practical, authorities recommend the use of chlorine bleach at a concentration of1/8 teaspoon per gallon of water, but be advised that some pathogenic organisms are resistant to this chemical treatment.
* Mosquito transmitted diseases – Diseases such as Encephalitis and West Nile Virus can be of serious concern. Since most hurricanes occur during the summer months, when temperatures can be sweltering, the best line of defense is a mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picariin.
Long after a hurricane has passed, after basic survival has been assured and upon return to your property, the threat of mold looms. For this reason, we've listed our Emergency Prevention of Mold Damage & Property Damage recommendations below to help provide you with the first steps you should take to limit mold damage. More information about hurricane-related mold damage and safety tips is available at http://www.ehagroup.com/mold/hurricane.asp.
About the Author: Ryan G. Dalton, MPH, REHS is a Staff Epidemiologist at EHA Consulting Group, a public health and infectious disease consulting firm specializing in pandemic influenza preparedness and disaster management.