Food-Borne Illness, Water-Borne Illness & Dehydration

Food-Borne Illness, Water-Borne Illness & Dehydration


Food-Borne Illness

All foods contain a small amount of bacteria that can multiply — causing illness — if not stored and handled properly. 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. A lack of clean water can present hygiene problems and it’s not always possible to cook food properly.

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. That’s why it’s important to always have plenty of bottled drinking water on hand to be completely safe.

Whilst the signs and symptoms of food poisoning vary depending on the source of the problem. Symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • dehydration
  • vomiting

The severity of the symptoms depends on lots of things: your health, your age, any underlying conditions, and how much of the contaminated food you were exposed to. If you or someone with you develops food poisoning during a disaster situation, consider the following:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to flush out the system.
  • Get 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.
  • If the symptoms do not abate after 48 hours, seek medical attention.



Dehydration occurs when more water is leaving the body than is being replaced. We lose water every day in many different ways — urination, sweat, respiration — so it’s important that we replace what is lost. The following can all cause dehydration:

  • diarrhea
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • diabetes
  • burns
  • lack of fluids to drink

Prevention is better than the cure so make sure that you have ample clean, fresh, bottled water available for everyone to drink during a disaster situation. Symptoms of dehydration can vary, but they often include one or more of the following:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • heart palpitations
  • dry mouth
  • lack of sweating
  • weakness
  • light headedness
  • dark or discolored urine

If you suspect you or someone you know is dehydrated, then it’s important to drink regular, small amounts of clear fluid with electrolytes. The following can help to replenish the body:

  • water
  • popsicles
  • Jell-O
  • clear broth
  • other clear fluids like Powerade, Gatorade, etc.