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Health 28 February 2020
By: Natasha Tanga

7 Tips to Maintain Well-Being After a Flood


The rainy season is supposed to be good for the environment, as nature provides rain water to seep through the ground and creating new batch of ground water. However, when there's not enough open ground to be infiltrated, the rain water can't seep through and remains on top of the ground, which then causes flood to happen. Often enough, in a city lower than sea level like Jakarta, flood can easily happen and submerge into houses and residential areas. What then should you do after a flood to ensure your well-being? What are the things to do and not to do when you're cleaning up? On this week's journal, we will be discussing a few tips you can do after a flood. Read on!

1. Disinfect floors and walls

Cleaning up your home or office after a flood is a daunting task and may expose you to a number of hazards that can adversely affect health. Anyone who comes in contact with sewage or contaminated flood water is at a risk for becoming ill. Therefore, wear protective clothing items before starting your clean up, and remember to always wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

After a flooding episode, ensure a proper dry out of affected houses or buildings as quickly as possible by opening all the doors and windows. You should also sweep off all the leftover water and mud on the floor before starting the disinfection process. Keep in mind that muddy surfaces can be extremely slippery and can result in falls that may cause fractures and other injuries. Wear proper footwear that has good grip and step carefully in order not to slip.

2. Prevent inhaling mold while cleaning up

When flood water enters the home, you need to be aware of mold growth. It can begin to develop in flood-impacted areas in as little as two days and may disrupt health, as mold can cause asthma attacks and irritate the skin, eyes and nose. Therefore, it is important to air out and wear mask during clean up. Also consider to take breaks between clean up and go out of the room so you can breathe better air and reduce inhaling toxic fumes as a result of mold growth. Cleaning your home as quickly as possible following flooding is essential to stopping the growth of mold.

3. Watch out for pests

Aside from carrying mud, debris, and germs, flood water is also known to transport animals out of their natural habitat. Reports have found animals, from simple house pest like cockroaches, fish, to dangerous animals like snakes and crocodiles. Be aware of your surroundings, especially during the aftermath of a flood.

4. Discard items that cannot be washed

Absorbent household materials that got soaked in flood water and can't be washed, such as mattresses and upholstered furnitures like sofa, should be discarded immediately. Other stuff that is made from fabric, like rugs, curtains, or clothes should also be discarded if deemed too dirty, or if still in salvageable condition, disinfect, wash with hot water and detergent before thoroughly dried. 

5. Throw away foods that may be spoiled during flood

Power outage is most common to happen during a flood. Therefore, keep an eye on your food in the refrigerator. Protect frozen or refrigerated food by keeping the doors to the refrigerator/freezer closed at all times, or seek an alternate location with power to store the food. If the power is off for more than 24 hours, food products will probably start to spoil and should be put out or be eaten immediately. Otherwise, foods that cannot be eaten should be thrown out. Also, foods that may have come in contact with flood waters should be immediately thrown away.

6. Electricity checking

When your house or office is submerged in water, check whether the water reached your power plugs. Be extra careful when using electrical equipment after a flood as it can put you into a risk of electrocution. Never use electrical equipment near flood water, as electricity and water together is extremely dangerous.

7. Clean your hands and feet after contact with flood water

There is an increased risk of diarrhea, wound infections, dermatitis, as well as nose and throat infections from contact with polluted waters. However, all of these risks can be minimised with good hygiene practices. If you come into contact with contaminated floodwater, wash affected areas of the body thoroughly with clean water and soap.