Floods are a danger to everyone, but even more so for children. Children are unaware of the hazards present in a flood so extra care needs to be taken to protect them from harm. Flood water is contaminated with varieties of different bacteria’s which can spread harmful diseases, as well as the fact that they are at an increased risk of drowning.
Precautionary measures must always be taken in preparation for a flood. A flood survival kit will need to be compiled along with a flood plan, supplies of food and water kept in reserve and knowing how to turn off all mains supplies (gas, electricity and water). Being prepared gives you the best possible chance of survival during and after a flood.
During a flood it is likely that your water supply will become contaminated, it is therefore suggested that you keep a portable gas stove in your flood survival kit for boiling water because when you boil water it kills off any harmful bacteria residing in it. The same applies for water supplied from a bowser, bacteria can build up on the inside of the tanker depending on how often and when exactly it was last cleaned. This is especially important when you have infants feeding on formula. Precautions should always be taken by keeping a clean supply of bottled water for drinking and washing.
When heating water for an infant’s feed there are few measures that you will need to adhere to. First of all you will need to heat the water until it boils; boiling signifies that the water has reached a temperature where it is now safe to consume. When allowing the water cool, it should be kept inside a clean, sealable container to prevent cross-contamination and should be left for no longer than thirty minutes. Following this, the water should be added to the formula as usual. This should ensure the safety of your child’s feed but it would be better to use bottled water if you are unsure. Another option is to keep a supply of pre-prepared formula milk which is used as an alternative to powdered milk. If you do not have the facilities to boil water, ensure that you keep a fresh supply of spring water (bottled water usually contain high levels of sodium, check the labels to make sure they have a level lower than 200). This can be used for formulas but must be given to the child as soon as it has been prepared. If you are unsure of your water supply, it is generally a good idea to contact your supplier for their advice.
Hygiene is extremely important at this stage. As most parents will know, children have a habit of putting things in their mouths. Keeping an eye on them to make sure that this doesn’t happen and you will also need to make sure that they wash their hands on a regular basis, especially before meals. If you do not have a supply of water, supplies of baby/cleansing wipes are good alternatives.
Once you return to your home following a flood, you must still be vigilant of dangers. It is probably best to keep your child(ren) at another location until the clean-up process has been completed. The most obvious danger you will face is contamination, everything that has come into contact with flood water will have to be disinfected and sanitized. This will involve cleaning clothes, fabrics and toys which have come into contain with the water, sanitizing all surfaces and cupboards as well as walls and doors. Other potential hazards include nails sticking out, raised flood boards and broken tiles. It is a good idea to clean down any pavements and grass, allowing it to return to normal, garages and cellars will also need to be allowed time to be fully ventilated before children enter them.
If at any point during or after a flood your child starts to exhibit symptoms like diarrhea or sickness, you must contact your doctor or the emergency services immediately. Children’s immune systems are not as strong as fully grown adults, so extra care must be taken during these times.
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