Food-Borne Illness, Water-Borne Illness & Dehydration

drinking water

drinking water (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All foods contain a small amount of bacteria which can multiply causing illness if not stored and handled properly (the food, not the bacteria). This can be a real problem during a disaster situation . . . power outages mean that refrigerators no longer keep the food chilled and¬†frozen foods start to defrost,¬†lack of clean water can present hygiene problems and it’s not always possible to cook food which can help to make some foodstuffs safer to eat. Food can also become contaminated by chemicals and toxins, viruses and parasites. It’s also quite common for previously safe drinking water to become contaminated during a disaster . . . always have plenty of bottled drinking water on hand to be completely safe.

Whilst the signs and symptoms of food poisoning do vary depending on the source of the problem, they generally fall into these categories. You may have one, two or in fact all of the following signs and symptoms;

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration (sometimes – if this becomes significant you may feel faint and light headed with a rapid heart beat)
  • Vomiting (sometimes)

The severity of the symptoms depends on lots of things . . . your health, your age, how much of the contaminated food you were exposed to. If you or someone with you develops food poisoning during a disaster situation, it’s important to;

  • Drink plenty of fluids to flush out the system
  • Take plenty of rest
  • Never use medicines designed to stop diarrhea, this will only slow down the rate of elimination of the bacteria from your body
  • The symptoms should begin to improve within 48 hours

Dehydration occurs when more water is leaving the body than is being replaced. We lose water every day in many different ways, so it’s important that we replace what its lost. Dehydration often occurs as a result of;

  • Diarrhea
  • Sweat
  • Vomiting
  • Diabetes
  • Burns
  • Lack of fluids to drink

If you show any of the signs or symptoms of dehydration, ie;

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating stopped
  • Weakness
  • Light headedness
  • Lack of urine

then it’s time to take action. In fact, prevention is better than cure so make sure that you have ample clean, fresh, bottled water available for everyone to drink during a disaster situation, but if anyone does become dehydrated then it’s important to drink regular, small amounts of clear fluid, stuff like;

  • water
  • popsicles
  • Jell-O
  • clear broth
  • other clear fluids like Powerade, Gatorade etc . . . whatever you have to hand in your disaster preparedness survival supplies

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