In light of the increased rainfall and the possibility of flooding in coastal and outlying areas, the Ministry of Public Health is advising that special attention be placed on your health, personal hygiene, vector control, food and water safety and generalsanitation.
The Ministry, in a statement signed by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, advises:
• That if you are living in flood prone areas and there is any flooding, stay out of the water as much as possible, as it can greatly reduce your chances of contracting diseases such as skin infections, Leptospirosis, Diarrhea and other water–borne diseases. Direct contact with flood waters can expose you to several germs that can lead to any of these diseases. Keep children out of the water as they are most at risk of contracting diseases. Avoid swimming in flooded canals and trenches. During the rainy season and floods, these become contaminated and can make you sick.
• If you must venture into any area with flood waters, use protective gear such as long boots, gloves and eye protection. Prepare a foot bath of ½ cup of bleach to one bucket of water and wash your feet before entering the house. Apply Vaseline or oil to your skin as it forms a barrier and provides some protection from the dirty water.
• During rainfall, you may notice an increase in mosquitoes.Protect yourself and family against mosquitoes by sleeping under mosquito nets, use mosquito repellents and coils. Ensure that all water stored around your homes in containers is covered to reduce the breeding of mosquitoes. Remember, the mosquito that spreads Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya virus breeds in fresh still water (especially rain water) around your home.
• Use safe water for drinking, cooking, brushing your teeth,making ice and beverages. Safe water is water that is treated with chlorine bleach (add 1/2 teaspoon to 5 gallons bucket of water, cover and let the water stand for 30 minutes before using ); water boiled for at least 5 minutes, cool and store in covered containers or sealed bottled water.
• Keep food supplies away from contact with any flood water. Flood water can contaminate food supplies including dry groceries, vegetables, fruits, cooked foods and beverages.Discard all foods that have been in contact with flood waters safely by placing in a plastic bag and deposit in covered bins.
• Wash all fruits and vegetables with treated safe water and peel before eating. Remember to keep all food items and drinking water in covered containers
• Cook food thoroughly and consume cooked meals within two hours of preparation. Store all remaining food safely in a refrigerator and reheat thoroughly before consuming.
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and safe water or use hand sanitizers, especially before eating meals, after going to the toilet or latrine, cleaning children or handling animals and contaminated materials.
• Use the safe toilets or latrines to defecate and dispose of baby’s diapers in your covered bins. Do not mess or let feces get into the flood waters, drains or trenches.
• Secure of all household waste and other garbage in plastic bags and store in bins until these are properly removed to approved landfill sites. Keep garbage bins covered to prevent pests such as mosquitoes, flies, rats and roaches from entering. Do not dump garbage in drains, trenches, canals and illegal dumping areas around your community.
• Watch out for animals coming into your homes. Rats, roaches, snakes, centipedes and other pests that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Keep doors and windows closed or screened to prevent them from entering your homes.
• Turn off the main electrical switch and unplug all appliances and move them to safe areas of your homes if your home is under water. If you suspect electrical wiring have been damaged in your home, turn off the main and have it checked by a qualified person before turning on back the power.
• Secure all important equipment, supplies, medicines, clothing and other items in safe spaces in your homes. Place important documents and valuables in plastic and store them in a safe place.
• If you or any family member experiences any fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, cuts, sticks, bruises or other conditions, please seek medical attention immediately.
The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and other hospitals’ outpatient departments in your areas are all fully operational and equipped to provide adequate care.