6 Ways to Protect Your Health after Harvey

By India Ogazi

As you recover from hurricane Harvey, be mindful that there are new health risk factors to consider.

Repairing your home and returning to your normal routine can place a toll on your body and mind. To stay healthy after Harvey, Dr. Ann Barnes, Legacy Community Health’s chief medical officer, offers the following tips:

  1. Wear a mask, boots and gloves to clean up Wear a mask as you repair your home to prevent irritation to your airways and lungs. This is especially important if you suffer from allergies, asthma or any other respiratory issue. Dust, debris, mold and mildew can cause inflammation. Flood waters may contain pathogens — bacteria, viruses and microorganisms that can cause disease. Wear boots in flood waters and use gloves as you clean up.
  2. Mind your feelings Anxiety, depression and PTSD are common feelings to experience after a natural disaster. Financial worries and a break from your normal routine may be causing you stress. It’s normal. Talking to someone about your feelings can help lift your spirits. If feelings persist, consult a mental health professional for help.
  3. Throw away wet items Don’t keep wet porous items (which can absorb water) such as stuffed animals, furniture, rugs, pillows or mattresses. They’re contaminated, throw them out. If it’s a hard plastic, glass or metal item, such as dishes, toys and decorations, you can clean it with hot water and soap. But when in doubt, throw it out.
  4. Ward off mosquitoes With a rise in water comes a rise in mosquitoes. Throw away standing water. Protect yourself by wearing mosquito repellant, especially if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  5. Stay on your medication If you’ve run out of prescription medication, be sure to refill it as soon as possible and restart your medication regimen.
  6. Reschedule missed doctor’s appointments If you’ve missed a doctor’s appointment due to the storm, reschedule it. Regular follow-up with your provider is the best way to maintain good health and to catch any health concerns early.

Hurricane Harvey may have taken you’re time, possessions or money, but don’t let it take your health. Stay healthy and Houston Strong.