The monsoon is here
The monsoon is here to relieve us from the heat of an extended summer. Although we’d like to welcome the change in temperature we have to accept that India’s monsoon rains are getting heavier, with more severe weather likely in the future.
The goal of safety awareness during the monsoon is to reduce the number of disease, injuries, damage and deaths caused by weather related hazards. Through education and proper precautionary measures, lives can be saved and damages can be minimised.
The rains not only bring us the much needed water but also a whole host of health threats. There suddenly seems to be an increase in the number of flies and mosquitoes exposing us to diseases such as diseases like Malaria, Dengue, Typhoid, Cholera, and Leptospirosis etc
For the best chance at thwarting these tiny killers called mosquitos we need to know how they live, how to repel them, and how to kill them. The dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya vector mosquitoes bite mainly from dawn to dusk unlike the malaria mosquitoes that bite mainly from dusk to dawn.
By far the preferred approach for managing mosquitoes is to keep them out of tanks and other water sources. In addition, rainwater should not be allowed to pool in containers or on surfaces below tank outlets or taps, as this can also provide a breeding site. Many species of mosquito stay fairly close to where they hatch and breed.
One of the best ways to keep mosquitoes from biting you is to simply cover your skin. Wear your sleeves and pant legs as long as possible to cover as much skin as you can. Also keep your clothing as loose as you can. This serves two purposes: first, it’s much more comfortable in the hot, humid weather where mosquitoes thrive. Second, mosquitoes can sometimes bite through clothing that’s held tight against the skin, especially if the fabric is thin.
Ensure adequate protection during times of the day when mosquitoes are most active. Apply mosquito repellent to uncovered skin surfaces when outdoors. When using sunscreen, apply it before applying the insect repellent. Clothing may also be sprayed with repellent to help keep away mosquitos. It is common sense to reapply repellents as protection wanes and mosquitoes start to bite again.
Sleep under a mosquito net if possible. The mosquito nets have fine holes big enough to allow breeze but small enough to keep mosquitoes and other insects out. Make sure to sleep without touching the sides – mosquitoes can actually bite you through the netting if it’s tight against your skin. Check for holes regularly – patch them with tape for a quick fix. Protect infants less than 2 months of age by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
Avoid getting too hot. This advice is especially important if you’re in a hot, humid climate. Mosquitoes are thought to be attracted to warm bodies, so staying cool is one way to avoid bites. Dark-colored fabrics absorb more heat from the sun than light-colored alternatives, so avoid them. Also avoid excessive exercise when possible. Not only will exercise cause you to radiate heat, it will also cause you to breathe heavily. Carbon dioxide, one of the gasses you exhale, can be smelled by mosquitoes even at relatively long distances.
Use a mosquito swatter. It can be fulfilling to be when you swat a mosquito that has been annoying you
Typhoid and Hepatitis A outbreaks are common during the monsoon rains. The public health goals that can help prevent and control these diseases safe drinking water, improved sanitation and adequate medical care may be difficult to achieve. For that reason, some experts believe that vaccinating high-risk populations is the best way to control these diseases. A vaccine is recommended if you’re traveling to areas where the risk of typhoid fever and Hepatitis A is high.
You need to be extremely careful about the water you drink as most illness are water borne during the monsoon season. Drink clean boiled water and if not possible drink bottled water. Protect your school going children by providing them with their own bottle of water. Ask for drinks without ice. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, and try not to swallow water in the shower if you think the water could be contaminated.
Wash your hands with soap before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times when water isn’t available.
Avoid eating food like chutneys, pani-puri, juice and lasi that may put you at a risk of water borne diseases. Make sure you wash fruits and vegetables that you can’t peel before eating them as they may have been washed in unsafe water or stored in an unsafe manner. Make sure canned food and drinks are washed with clean water before being opened.
Avoid food that’s stored or served at room temperature. Steaming hot foods are best. And although there’s no guarantee that meals served at the finest restaurants are safe, it’s best to avoid food from street vendors as contamination is more likely. Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed during a power shut down food will stay fresh up to 8 hours.
Wear special monsoon shoes (wellingtons) and raincoats in order to protect yourself from getting wet. If you happen to get wet, remove the wet clothes and dry yourself thoroughly. This can prevent you from getting colds, coughs and fungal infections. Avoid swimming during this season. The risk of acquiring leptospirosis can be greatly reduced by not swimming or wading in water that might be contaminated with animal urine.
Although we do your best to avoid certain diseases during the monsoon, there are some natural hazards like monsoon flash flood, lightning and dust storms that cannot be controlled by humans.
The best way to avoid lightning, flash floods, and other dangerous conditions is by not being in danger in the first place.
Most flash flood injuries and deaths occur in vehicles. Water 1-2 feet deep can sometimes carry away vehicles. Keep children away from streams, riversides and beaches during heavy down pours. Avoid travelling. If the need arises be extra cautious especially at night when the water depth and road conditions are harder to see. If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. If a power line comes in contact with your vehicle, remain inside the vehicle until help arrives. Do not attempt to get out of the vehicle – that is the safest place for you to be. By stepping out of the vehicle, your body can become the pathway for electricity to reach the ground, causing severe bodily harm and possibly electrocution. Use a cell phone, if available, to notify the emergency services of the exact location.
Even a less serious urban flood can be dangerous. Driving too fast through standing water can cause a car to hydroplane. The best defence is to slow down or pull well off the road with the lights off for few minutes to wait out heavy rains.
If you live in a flood prone area have an evacuation plan. Store materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber for protection from floodwaters and to make quick repairs after severe storm. Store materials above flood levels. Secure wanted objects to prevent them from floating away. Learn where to find high ground, which is safe from flooding. In a flash flood seek high ground quickly.
Contact an insurance agent to discuss flood insurance coverage. Flood losses may not be covered under normal homeowners’ insurance policies. Get coverage early-there is a waiting period before it takes effect.
Thunderstorms frequently produce strong downward bursts of wind. These winds can cause extensive damage. They may generate areas of dense blowing dust. If downbursts approach move inside a sturdy building and stay away from windows. Remove furniture and material outside the house, on terrace and in balconies as they may fly away with the wind.If you encounter a dust storm while travelling pull off the road as far as you can safely do so. Turn off your headlights and taillights. Take your foot off the brake so your brake lights are not illuminated. Other motorists may tend to follow tail lights in an attempt to get through the dust storm, and may strike your vehicle from behind.Dust storms usually last a few minutes, and up to an hour at most. Stay where you are until the dust storm passes.
No place outside is safe from lightening during a thunder storm. When thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Remaining indoors for 30 minutes after seeing the last lightning and hearing the last thunder will eliminate the risk at the end of storms.
If fewer than 30 seconds elapse between the time you see a flash and hear the thunder, then the flash is less than 6 miles away. Research has shown that the most successive flashes are within 6 miles, which means that you should have reached a safe place if lightning is less than 6 miles away. However, lightning may strike up to 10 miles away from the parent storm. If you hear thunder or lightening close enough to strike you, move inside a strong building or vehicle.
Never touch wiring during a thunderstorm. It’s too late to unplug electronics if thunder is heard. Avoid contact with inside wiring and plumbing during thunderstorms. This includes all appliances. Corded phones are dangerous during thunderstorms. Lightning traveling through telephone wires has killed people. Cell phone and cordless phones are safe. Wait to use any plumbing-sinks, showers, tubs, and toilets. Plumbing can conduct electricity from lightning strikes.
Unplug expensive electronics including TV, stereo, home entertainment centres and computers modem lines when thunderstorms are expected, and before the storm arrives. Stop playing video games connected to the TV. During a thunderstorm, turn off the AC unit. Power surges from lightning can overload units, leading to costly repair bills.
Watch current weather forecasts on the TV or the internet. Listen to the weather report on Radio if you are travelling
It is important for every family to prepare a family disaster supply kit in the event of severe weather conditions. The disaster supply kit should contain essential items such as food, water, sturdy clothing and medication; to sustain a family for up to three days since electric power, gas and water services may be interrupted.
Keep up to 12 litres of water in clean closed containers for each person and pet. A stock of food that requires no cooking or refrigeration. Keep ready a portable and working battery-operated radio, flashlights, and extra batteries. Remember candles and oil lamps are fire hazards. Back-up power source for life support or other medical equipment that requires electricity to function. Prepare a first aid kit and put it in an accessible place and make sure that all your family members are aware of it.
Stay safe this monsoon. Prepare and prevent. Don’t repair and repent.
UPDATED ON 17/03/2023