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Minimizing Health Risks of Flood Damage From Hurricane Harvey

Guided Wealth
By: Guided Wealth
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Hurricane Harvey has been a massive disaster for the Houston area, but the dangers posed by Harvey do not all recede with the flood waters. People who are in heavily flooded areas need to be aware of all of the potential health risks that accompany flooding. The Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in Texas this past Sunday. More medical professionals around Texas and the country are now on alert, and you should be too if you are near or in Harvey's flood waters. Let's take a look at some health risks that you may not have considered in the aftermath of this natural disaster.

Dirty Water

The waters that have flooded Houston are a lot more than just simple rain water. In most flooding cases this water is contaminated with sewage and chemicals. Not to mention that sharp glass and metal objects can lurk beneath the surface of the water and cut your skin.

Floodwater can also carry and help transmit disease such as typhoid, yellow fever, or cholera. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that an outbreak of any of these diseases is highly unlikely since those diseases are not prevalent in Texas or the United States in general. More commonly, people who come into contact with or consume food or other things that have come into contact with this water will likely suffer from diarrhea and other stomach problems. Handling objects that have been submerged in the flood waters can also increase your risk for developing stomach infections and diarrhea.

It is important to make sure that you are not exposing yourself to the flood waters as much as is possible. Do not let your children play in the water or play with toys that have been submerged in the water unless they are thoroughly cleaned first. This will minimize your risks of developing rashes, skin infections, diarrhea, and other stomach ailments.

Respiratory Health Cleaning Up

After flooding occurs and the waters recede mold grows quickly especially in a humid area like Houston. The mold that grows after a flood can make asthma worse or trigger allergies or cause other respiratory issues. The walls, floors, appliances, and anything that has come into contact with flood waters need to be thoroughly cleaned with soap and disinfected with some sort of bleach solution. The CDC strongly urgesanyone who is cleaning up a house after the waters recede to use gloves and boots at the very least in order to make sure that they are minimizing their contact with contaminated items and surfaces. Throw away any and all food or beverages that has made contact with flood waters. It is not safe to consume these items anymore.

Mental Health

Too often it is easy to overlook our mental health, especially when there is natural disaster and rushing flood waters. Do not let your mental health take a back seat. Flooding and hurricanes generate a lot of extra anxiety, depression, and stress according to mental health experts. The real dangers come when sleep becomes a challenge, thinking becomes muddled and memory is affected. People who are suffering from mental health issues after a disaster like Harvey may even refuse help that is offered to them. Experts all say that it is important to make sure that you look out for your family, friends, and co-workers in times like this. Most people with strong connections to these groups make full recoveries mentally from the traumatic stress of flooding and disaster. Please do not take mental health lightly, and seek help if you notice your friends, family, co-workers, or yourself suffering.

(Click here for a complete list of Hurricane Harvey relief resources compiled by the State Bar of Texas).


Do You Need Immediate Help Recovering From Hurricane Harvey?

If you have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey and need help figuring out your next financial steps, use the button below to schedule a completely free conversation with Jon Swanburg, our head of Financial Planning.  We, like many of you, have been helped by so many in the community during this time of crisis and we are eager to pay it forward by offering financial guidance to those in need.   

This is not for questions about investments but rather topics like: Who can you contact to reduce utility payments? How do you pay off the credit card debt that may pile up?  Or What are the implications of taking a loan from the 401k to pay for repairs? 

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