Hygiene and Sanitation
Clean up the Calamity: Sanitation must-dos after a natural disaster
The last month of the year is awaited by everyone for several reasons. The ushering in of a new year and new hopes is perhaps the most popular reason. December 2015 brought in something new and unexpected to the city of Chennai as well; nature’s wrath in the form of rains and unprecedented floods.
Natural disasters claim lives and livelihood mercilessly and we can only wait for the onslaught to subside and then resume life from the aftermath. Chennai has come together to ensure that the outcome of this calamity has the least negative repercussions on the city and country at large with one of the biggest movements being sanitation and the removal of waste.
The aim of every sanitation system in a state of emergency is to minimise the spread of diseases and to restore a healthy environment. It is essential to sanitation awareness interventions after any disastrous event and to focus on hygiene promotion, storm water drainage systems and solid waste management.
Here's how you can do your bit:
- Throw away any food that may have been near flood or storm water. Fruits, vegetables and anything perishable must be disposed immediately. Also throw out food that has an unusual odour, colour, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Water: Do not use water that you suspect is contaminated for any purpose.
- Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cooked food) in your fridge when the electricity has been off for 4 hours or more. When there’s no electricity, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
- Throw out canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.
- Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps, twist caps; flip tops, snap-open tops, and even home canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater because they cannot be disinfected.
- Infant food: For preparing baby food/formula, it is best to use bottled water to stir powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. If you prepare formula with boiled water, let the formula cool sufficiently before giving it to an infant.
- Clean feeding bottles and nipples with bottled, boiled, or treated water before each use.
- Always wash your hands before preparing formula and before feeding an infant. You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer for washing your hands if the water supply is limited.
- Clean and sanitize all food-contact surfaces.
- Kitchen products: It is recommended that you discard wooden cutting boards, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers; if they have been anywhere near flood waters.
As we come together to attempt to create the most appropriate sanitation systems, let us understand that going back to the bare basics is what will help us most. Remember to seek advice from your health practitioner if you have any concerns at all about hygiene and sanitation in the home. Refrain from sharing any unverified tips with your friends and family.