Preventing Diarrheal Illness After A Disaster
Print-and-Go Fact Sheet
Protect yourself and your family:
- Drink and use safe water.
- Wash your hands often.
- Do not defecate in any body of water.
- Eat safe food. Boil it, cook it, peel it, or throw it away.
- Clean up safely.
- Avoid floodwater or contaminated water bodies.
Drink and use safe water
- Listen to local officials to find out if your water is safe.
- Use bottled water for drinking, washing and preparing food, making ice, and brushing your teeth.
- If you do not have bottled water, boil or disinfect your water to make it safe.
How to make your water safe by boiling or disinfecting
- If boiling, bring your water to a complete boil and keep boiling for at least 1 minute.
- To disinfect your water, use unscented household liquid chlorine bleach. If your water is clear, add 8 drops to 1 gallon of water. If your water is cloudy, use 16 drops to 1 gallon of water. Wait 30 minutes before drinking.
Wash your hands often with soap and safe water
- Before you eat or prepare food.
- Before feeding your children.
- Before and after treating wounds or taking care of someone who is sick.
- After going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or cleaning a child after they have gone to the bathroom.
If no soap is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Eat safe food
- Boil it, cook it, peel it, or throw it away.
- Avoid meat and dairy products that have not been refrigerated.
- Cook food well. Eat it hot and keep it covered.
- Avoid raw foods other than fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself.
Clean up safely
- Clean food preparation areas and kitchenware with soap and safe water and let dry completely before reuse.
- Wash yourself, your children, diapers, and clothes 100 feet away from drinking water sources.
Avoid flood water or contaminated water bodies
- Wash your hands with soap and water after contact with flood waters.
- Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
- Do not allow children to play with toys that have touched flood water and have not been disinfected.
What to do if you or your family are ill with diarrhea
- Stay hydrated by drinking safe water or oral rehydration solution (ORS).
- Visit the nearest health facility. Continue to keep hydrated while at home and while you travel to get treatment.
- Continue to breastfeed your baby if they have watery diarrhea, even when traveling to get treatment.
Page last reviewed: October 2, 2020