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As monsoon approaches, the flood situation in Western and Southern parts of India continues to worsen, killing over 180 people and displacing thousands. Reportedly, the states that have been hit the worst are Karnataka, Kerala, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah carried out an aerial survey of the areas that have suffered the most. 76 people have died and 58 are reportedly missing in Kerala since the recent flood outbreak on August 8. 17 fatalities were reported in Kozhikode district, 24 in Malappuram and 12 in Wayanad.
The floods in Karnataka have left 40 people dead and around 4,00,000 displaced. In Maharashtra, the incident has wreaked havoc in the districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri, Pune, Thane, Nashik, Sindhudurg, and Palghar following heavy showers that began last week.
In Gujarat, Barvala in Botad district recorded 380mm of rain over a period of 24 hours on August 10, as per the reports of Indian Meteorological Department.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief for the flood victims and promised flood relief to reduce the detrimental effects of the situation.
Problems Faced by the People after Flooding
Floods are a common natural calamity occurring worldwide and India is one of the most flood-prone countries in the world, accounting for one-fifth of flood-related global deaths. The natural calamity causes huge loss of lives and properties, infrastructure, livelihood, healthcare system, and public health.
The immediate effects of floods on health include injuries, drowning, infections, hypothermia etc. Health risks are also related to the loss of health workers and infrastructure including supplies and drugs and the evacuation of people.
Floods are likely to increase your chances of transmitting the following diseases
Water-borne illnesses cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis E and A, and leptospirosis
Vector-borne illnesses dengue, malaria, encephalitis, and haemorrhagic fever
Water-borne diseases are spread by coming in direct contact with contaminated water such as dermatitis, wound infections, ENT infections, and conjunctivitis.
Vector-borne diseases are illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria, and parasites that are transmitted by bug and flies, mosquitoes, mites and ticks.
Flooding may flush out mosquito breeding initially but later comes back once the water recedes. Usually, the lag time is around 3-4 weeks before the onset of dengue cases and 6-8 weeks before the occurrence of malaria.
How to Handle Health Woes?
Natural disasters cannot be prevented but its impact can be mitigated. Follow these measures to protect yourself and your loved ones from the various risks brought by floodwater
Avoid exposure to floodwater to prevent infection of rashes and open wounds
Clean and cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage to reduce the chances of getting an infection
Wash an open wound with clean water and antiseptic soap
Wash your hands after coming in contact with polluted floodwater
Use hand wash or sanitizer to clean your hands before and after a meal to avoid risks of diarrhoea
Do not bathe in contaminated water such as lakes, rivers and streams that might contain sewage or toxic chemicals
Ensure chlorination or boiling of drinking water
These steps can help you stay away from diseases and ailments caused by floodwater.
How to Ensure Safety?
To ensure safety during a natural calamity, like a flood, keep these following points in mind
Be attentive to announcements and warnings about flooded roads
Avoid travelling or driving to flooded areas
Avoid electrical hazards outside or inside your home
Keep medical kit and essential medications in place
Floodwater and stagnant water can be dangerous and are likely to make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, injuries and chemical hazards. However, with proper knowledge and precautionary measures, you may be able to escape the various health risks that come along. In addition to the safety measures, increase awareness about early diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases.