How to Ensure Drinking Water Safety After a Hurricane?
by Dr. Jonathan Doyle - Updated September 14, 2023
August ended with a massive hurricane in Keaton Beach, Florida. Idalia - the hurricane - started as a Category 3 hurricane but later advanced to a Category 4 hurricane for a short while. Like most hurricanes, Idalia came with significant flooding, damaging all the powerlines in its path. People living in Horseshoe Beach , just 30 miles south of landfall, were thrown into darkness due to the destructive effects of the Idalia.
The disturbing events of the Idalia hurricane again underline the need for effective crisis management and emergency response systems. Access to safe drinking water remains crucial in situations like this, considering how much hindrance contaminated water can be to first responders. With most infrastructures damaged, having clean water on ground can prevent waterborne diseases and offer a crucial lifeline for affected groups and communities.
Eye of Hurricane Explained
The clear and calm center within the storm is called the eye of the hurricane. It is the opposite of the fierce conditions of the eyewall around it. The eye of the hurricane is known for its relatively light winds, minimal precipitation, and less cloudy skies. There is also a lower air pressure at the center than in the surrounding areas, ultimately affecting how the hurricane circulates.
The low-pressure area pushes the strong winds in the eyewall . The rising warm air in the eyewall means thunderstorms cannot be formed, and the conditions will remain relatively calm. Hurricane eye comes in different sizes and shapes. However, despite its peaceful nature, one must be ready for the intense rainfall and winds that come next.
Potential Hazards of Contaminated Drinking Water
Disrupting water supply systems after floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters is almost inevitable. However, drinking water contaminated by pathogens, chemicals, and pollutants, as obtainable in such situations, can harm people’s overall health.
Here are some of the risks associated with unsafe drinking water;
Severe Health Risks
Residents in affected areas are at great risk of waterborne diseases if they drink contaminated water. Water contaminated by heavy metals, chemicals, viruses, and bacteria is a recipe for several health problems - for example, Salmonella and E. coli have been confirmed to cause serious gastrointestinal issues. These often cause dehydration, diarrhea, and even hospitalization in advanced cases.
Pesticides, lead, arsenic, and similar chemical contaminants cause long-term health problems in humans when consumed. These include chronic organ diseases in adults and developmental issues in children. The harmful pathogens in contaminated water are responsible for eye irritation and skin infections, especially when such water is used for personal hygiene.
While these health risks are ordinarily disturbing, they come with greater concern during and after natural disasters like hurricanes due to limited medical care.
Widespread Waterborne Diseases
Drinking contaminated water is an easy way to spread waterborne diseases . The infection of water sources means giardiasis, hepatitis A, dysentery, and cholera can spread among the inhabitants of a community. Symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and severe diarrhea become more common. The hospitalization and fatality figures increase, particularly if older people and children are affected.
Higher Risk Among Vulnerable Populations
Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems comprise the vulnerable populations. These groups are more vulnerable to the effects of polluted drinking water in the aftermath of a hurricane.
The developing bodies of children puts them at a greater risk of the harmful effects of these contaminants. This can lead to severe health and developmental problems in the short and long runs. The weakened immune systems of elders also make them soft targets for infections caused by waterborne pathogens.
The health of the unborn children in pregnant women might be at risk if there is no access to safe drinking water. The same goes for people with compromised immune systems - their body systems are less likely to withstand illnesses caused by pathogens in contaminated water.
Considering all of these, ensuring these vulnerable populations can always access safe and contaminant-free drinking water, including during and after a natural disaster, is crucial.
Providing Safe Drinking Water During Emergencies
Some practical ways to ensure people can access safe drinking water after a disaster are buying bottled water, installing water filtration systems, and sourcing portable water filtration devices. Time is of the essence in these situations, considering the importance of safeguarding public health.
Water Purification Solution for Households
An effective water purification solution you can adopt for your family is the Waterdrop 800GPD RO System . It is designed to be an upgrade to the Waterdrop G3 , providing an unlimited supply of RO water in your home and small offices. The advanced filtration technology in this RO system guarantees pure and good-tasting water. It is also more efficient with an advanced water-saving technology that uses 12 times less water.
Ways to Personally Safeguard Your Drinking Water
The Waterdrop water filter straw is a water purification solution designed for personal use. It relies on a 0.1-micron hollow fiber membrane to efficiently reduce harmful materials and bacteria in your water. There is also a high-grade coconut shell-activated carbon fiber for improved taste and odor. You are in for a fantastic and safe drinking water experience.
You can connect this water filter straw to water bottles or water bags. The extra syringe backwashing is unnecessary, making it a space-saving and easy-to-use filtration device. You can trust this device to meet your outdoor water needs, including camping, traveling, and hiking.
To Round Up
Drinking water safety is a significant concern after a natural disaster. It plays a crucial role in every emergency response and helps to safeguard health by preventing waterborne diseases, especially in vulnerable groups. Once access to clean water is guaranteed, it becomes easier for people, businesses, and services to return to normalcy.
Providing safe drinking water also means people are not displaced, and the psychological impacts of the events on them are minimal. In addition to being a practical necessity, it is a proven way to protect lives and guarantee the well-being of people during and after hurricanes and other natural disasters.