Sections of the country were overwhelmed with water on Monday resulting from intense rainfall which brought with it memories of the 2005 flood. In light of flooding concerns, the Ministry of Health issued an advisory urging the general public to pay close attention to water safety and personal hygiene.
The advisory cautioned that persons opt to stay out of flood waters as far as possible.
“If you are living in flooded areas stay out of the water as much as possible, as it can greatly reduce your chances of contracting diseases such as skin infections, leptospirosis, diarrhoeal diseases and other water-borne diseases.”
The advisory also warned that children stay out of the water as they are most at risk of contracting diseases. It was further noted that “if you must go into the water, use protective footwear such as long boots. Prepare a foot bath of half cup of bleach to one bucket of water and wash feet before entering the house. Then apply vaseline or oil to your skin as it forms a barrier and provides some protection from the dirty water.”
It was also noted that the effects of the rainfall is also likely to lead to an increase in mosquitoes. As such it was highlighted that persons should seek to protect themselves from vectors by sleeping under mosquito nets, using mosquito repellents and coils, and covering storage containers in order to reduce breeding sites.
It has also been recommended that safe water be used for drinking, cooking, brushing of teeth as well as for making ice and drinks. Safe water, the advisory added, is water treated with bleach as well as boiled or bottled water.
Persons should endeavour to keep food separate and protected from flood waters. It is also recommended that all food that has been in contact with flood waters be thrown away; wash all fruits and vegetables with treated water and peel before eating. All food items and drinking water should be kept in sealed containers, the advisory added.
In addition the Ministry has advised that persons seek to cook foods thoroughly and endeavour to wash hands carefully with soap and safe water or use hand sanitizers, especially before and after eating meals, after going to the toilet or latrine and taking care of children.
“Use the toilet or latrine and dispose of baby’s diapers properly. Do not put or let faeces get into the water,” the advisory warned.
The Ministry has also urged that persons keep rubbish bins closed and watch out for animals in the environment. It was noted that snakes and centipedes that have been flooded out of their regular habitats may seek shelter in homes.
“Use a pole or a stick to poke and turn items over and scare them away.”
Further, the advisory stated that if homes are seriously affected by flood waters and there is a suspicion that electrical wiring has been damaged, persons should have same checked by a qualified technician before turning on the main electrical switch.
“Know the location of the main electrical breakers and the gas and water valves in your home and ensure the path is clear to access them easily so that you can shut them off in emergencies.”
Additionally, it was recommended that persons place important documents and valuables in plastic and store them in a safe place.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) in a statement yesterday advised that residents of the Low Coastal Regions of Guyana should implement the precautionary measures mentioned below, in the event of excessive rainfall and flooding.
The statement noted that “should your water supply be compromised due to flooding ensure that all tap water intended for food and drink preparation and personal consumption (brushing of teeth etc.) is boiled for 15 minutes. Ensure that boiled water, whilst cooling before use, is stored in a tightly covered container.”
GWI has also stated too that alternatively, water can be made safe by using household bleach – adding three to four drops to each gallon of water. This should be mixed well and allowed to stand for 30 minutes before use, the statement added.
“Again, ensure that treated water is stored in a tightly covered container. GWI advises residents to practice rainwater harvesting. To avoid contamination, allow water to runoff from roof for approximately 30 minutes before collection.”
Further it was noted that customers are advised to promptly repair all leaking pipelines within their premises.
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