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Preventing Diarrheal Illness After A Disaster

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.

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