Hurricane Harvey Recovery: Health Precautions
Oct 11, 2017
The residents of the Coastal Bend continue to work diligently to restore their homes and businesses. Schools are preparing to re-open, as well! There have been improvements to the conditions in the disaster affected areas, but there are still hazards to be aware of. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) created a series of “Fact Sheets” to better inform Texans on the hazards they may be facing after a disaster.
While there has been aerial and trucks spraying the Coastal Bend to reduce the amount of mosquitoes, these insects still pose health-related issues to our community. Mosquitoes breed in areas that contain water (i.e. ditches, ponds, bird baths, plant saucers, etc.). These insects have been known to transmit viruses like Zika and West Nile. Ways to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and living in and around your home include: emptying any containers/structures holding water at least once a week; remove debris and standing water from gutters or the roof; fill areas that are prone to accumulating stagnant water; and repair any leaks around or in the house. You can prevent mosquitoes from biting you by covering all areas of your skin with clothing, wearing insect repellent, and ensuring your screens over your doors and windows are in good condition. Find more information on protection and reduction of mosquitoes at What You Need To Know About Mosquitoes.
Another issue we are facing in our area is mold. Mold is known to cause allergy outbreaks, headaches, bronchitis, skin rashes, asthma attacks, pulmonary illness, and more. To control mold growth and prevent it from spreading, DSHS suggests removing all carpet, padding, wallboard/drywall, furniture, and porous materials that were saturated. After the building/home is dried out, clean all counter tops, floors, and other non-porous materials thoroughly with the solution: 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, a (N-95 rated) mask, and eye protection when doing this. For more information and assistance with mold removal, visit Fact Sheet About Mold.
During clean-up and rebuild in the disaster affected areas, be cognizant of any wounds sustained—even a tiny scratch. Tetanus is a bacteria-produced toxin often contracted through a wound that affects the nervous system and is potentially fatal. Symptoms of tetanus include muscles spasms, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and stiffness in the upper body and eventually the lower body. After exposure, it can take up to a week to become ill. Symptoms can begin in as little as three days or as late as three weeks, though. If you sustain an injury, it is recommended to see a doctor and receive the proper vaccinations. You can find more information on tetanus at Fact Sheet About Tetanus.
DSHS also warns Texans of the health risks caused by heat. Heavy sweating, muscle cramps, dizziness, weak but rapid pulse, etc. are symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, find a cool spot that is well ventilated and drink water slowly to cool your body overall. If someone is showing severe symptoms (i.e. confusion, loss of consciousness, etc.) call emergency services immediately and fan the individual or place cool cloths on their skin. Besides staying away from heat, you can prevent heat-related illnesses by: not drinking beverages containing alcohol, high amounts of sugars, or caffeine; drinking lots of water before, during, and after outdoor/laborious activities; wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; eat well-balanced and light meals frequently; and take frequent breaks. More information and tips on how to prevent heat illnesses can be found at Fact Sheet About Heat.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this week’s article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office. Please always feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or issues regarding a Texas state agency, or if you would like to contact my office regarding constituent services. As always, my offices are available at any time to assist with questions, concerns or comments (Capitol Office, 512-463-0672; District Office, 361-949-4603).
– State Representative Todd Hunter, District 32
Rep. Hunter represents Nueces County (Part). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 512-463-0672