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After the Storm

Originally I was going to write an article about hurricane and storm preparations. You know, water, hygiene, get enough medications or just plain get out if you are in doubt, but then came Harvey. So, likely by the time you read this we will be past the high water and dealing with the aftermath.

So, after the storm – health.

First, storm water is dirty. I mean think about it, it runs off the treated materials of our roofs and across our fertilized, chemically treated lawns and down our petroleum distillate stained driveways and streets to become a delightful river of invisible toxins on its way to our rivers, bays and oceans.

And don’t even get me started on what pets do in the yard.

That water is often a carrier of everything from agents for skin irritation to gastrointestinal offenders. If in the aftermath you find a persistent or uncharacteristic rash, go see someone about it soon. Sooner is better than later. You could just initially be having and inflammatory reaction, but soon enough with all the sweating and dirt and whatnot, you may develop a “secondary infection” requiring antibiotics and that is a much bigger deal.

In the aftermath of my deployment for search and rescue to hurricane Katrina, many of the responders developed some persistent skin irritations. It ran the gamut. So, use my experience with that and if something shows up like a rash, blisters, irritation or redness, get checked out.

Also if you experienced a cut or puncture and have not had the proper vaccinations and start feeling ill in any way within days of the water exposure, get help. See a licensed medical professional, not just some friend with access to social media.

So I am assuming you didn’t drink the water in the street, but if you did- and there are no judgments here – and you begin feeling ill, experience diarrhea, nausea or worse, see someone immediately.

Finally, if you suffered structural damage at your home, and water got to any part of the structure, make sure that you have an environmental assessment before you undertake the repairs. In this part of the country there are any number of molds and other conditions that can develop and cause long term health hazards if you don’t take the proper steps before making repairs.

There is a lot more, but the following is good place to get started. There are a number of great resources including the CDC’s site addressing health considerations for storms and disasters on their website.

With your body in mind…

Stay dry and be well.

Matthew Minson, M.D.

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