Frequently asked questions on dealing with various situations after floods

Issued in public interest by Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir.

What are the proper methods of purifying water?

Chlorination is the most effective way for purifying water. Strictly follow the instructions given by Health Care Provider regarding use of chlorine tablets at the receiving end. Adding too much chlorine can be harmful and adding too little will not purify the water.

What are the proper methods of disposing of stagnant waters?

Follow standard methods of removal of stagnant waters from inside homes, shops and other buildings whether using a pump or buckets while avoiding direct contact with the flood waters. This can be achieved by wearing long water-proof rubber boots and gloves. However, any body part or clothing coming in contact with flood water should be washed with soap and water.

Is it safe for people to swim in or be immersed in flood waters?

No. It is not safe at all and should be only done when absolutely needed – to reach stranded people, to save a drowning person.

What kinds of precautions do pregnant women need to take?

Avoid all contact with contaminated flood waters, pay close attention to personal hygiene and strictly use clean drinking water. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience any abnormal symptoms.  Routine Antenatal care should not be disrupted.

What kinds of foods or drinks should people avoid?

Any foods that have come in contact with flood waters or stored in refrigerators that may have been turned off because of power failures should not be used. Same precautions apply to drinks. Use only clean drinking water for making any drinks like lassi, lemonade etc.  Freshly cooked, hot foods should be consumed.

Do people need to be wearing masks?

No. Workers handling the dead bodies, animal carcasses and waste may wear the masks to avoid unpleasant smells.

Do dead bodies cause epidemics?

Dead bodies from natural disasters do not cause epidemics. This is because victims of natural disasters die from trauma, drowning or fire. They do not have epidemic causing diseases such as cholera, typhoid, malaria or plague when they die. Dead bodies have to be promptly disposed to avoid decomposition which can lead to infection. Dead bodies often leak faeces, which may contaminate rivers or other water sources with pathogens that cause diarrheal diseases.

Is there a risk for those handling the dead bodies?

There is a small risk from tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, HIV and diarrheal diseases. However, these diseases do not last more than two days in a dead body (except for HIV that may survive up to six days). These risks can be reduced by wearing rubber boots and gloves and practicing basic hygiene (washing hands).

Should we eat poultry/mutton?

Well cooked poultry / mutton are safe to consume. However, the food handlers should exercise sanitary practices which include washing hands with soap and water after handling or cutting chicken / mutton.