If you are now in the process of essentially gutting your home after Hurricane Harvey, here are some things to be aware of. Many people get sick after a flood and during the cleanup process because of all of the chemicals and pathogens that are contained in the many things within your home. One way to prevent this is to make sure that you are wearing a mask, gloves and boots. The CDC has some recommendations that you can follow here. The mask will block many of the particles that are in the air. Seriously, you can get very ill from this. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and it absorbs many things. Exposing your extremities, like your hands and feet to these conditions can also make you become ill. The boots with help protect for feet from the water and other substances, but it can also make it more difficult for a nail or some other projectile to puncture your skin.
Make sure that your shots are up to date; if it’s been longer than 10 years since you received either a tetanus shot or booster, it is highly recommended that you get one now. It’s especially important in the even that you do step on or cut yourself on something that has been exposed to these flood waters or is rusted. Many people had to wade through these waters to get to safety, so please take these precautions. If you are unsure of when your last shot was, just get another one. It won’t do any harm, but it could save your life!
Hydrate and Rest! You have a long road ahead of you and it all can’t be done in a single day. Make sure to pace yourself as you move along through the process. If you become too tired or overwhelmed, you can make life-threatening mistakes. Take breaks frequently and make sure that you are hydrated. This Texas heat can be deadly if you’re not careful and when you’re laboring, you lose fluids more rapidly. Stay on top of it by drinking plenty of water and try to stay away from caffeinated drinks.
Finally, as much as you want this all to be done with, don’t be ashamed to ask for help! It’s overwhelming to anyone going through this and it’s so hard to see your property destroyed and that doesn’t even compare to losing someone. Many people experience a wide range of emotions from grief to anger and that’s ok. It’s a natural response to this type of event. If you need to speak to someone about how you feel, there are people available to talk to you. Children are feeling the same way you do and as parents, you have to be there to help them to express how they’re feeling and to get through this also. If you know how you feel, with the ability to cope and express it, imagine the children that haven’t learned that skill yet. Be patient with them and yourself.
My heart goes out to all those going through the variations of loss. We will get through it together. Houston is stronger when we work together!