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Healthy advice

Stories of sandbags and dredging may have captured the headlines but lurking beneath the disasters is a danger which if left unchecked could cause even more misery for thousands.  That danger is the health implications of excessive rainfall.

On a day to day basis we don’t pay much attention to our waste.  Yes, we wash our hands but in general we don’t stop to consider where our waste goes.  We just assume that it is dealt with.  But with flood waters pouring into drains and septic tanks, our waste is suddenly a lot closer than we’d like to believe and that can cause long term health problems for the unwary.

In recognition of this Public Health England (PHE) has issued some guidance on “the potential health impacts before, during and after a flood as well as advice and support on the response and recovery.”  In addition to warnings about the dangers of sharp objects hiding beneath flood waters and advice on packing an emergency bag in case of evacuation the PHE advice also covers areas such as sanitation and food safety.  The PHE advice also brings to the fore the psychological impacts of flooding which can cause symptoms such as tiredness, distress, anxiety and sleeping problems.

Whilst the NHS is generally the first port of call for those whose health and wellbeing has been affected by the floods, in the longer term other health professionals will be drawn in to the mix.  Those such as counsellors and psychotherapists may be required to treat psychological traumas whilst physiotherapists, osteopaths and others look after people who have been injured whilst coping with the floodwaters.  Even the simple advice to move precious objects upstairs is going to result in a fair amount of back and other strains for those who are unused to such exercise.

With so many affected, in some areas already overburdened health professionals are going to be put under further pressure.  Finding ways to defer some of the day to day tasks such as telephone answering, diary management and the maintenance of patient records could help to deflect some of this pressure as well as maximising the time available for treatments.  Whilst at least the flood waters bring with them warmer weather which reduces ice slips and strains this is cold comfort to those who require treatment from weather related ills.  With the Government warning that things may get worse before they get better this is one story which sadly may run and run.

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