After rapidly building its winds and anticipation throughout nations worldwide, Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday. So far, we know that six people have died as a result. What we don’t know much about, though, is the hurricane health risks that came with Michael.
Even with the best preparedness in the world, you can’t fully guard yourself against natural disasters. Impacts such as destroyed homes, an inability to evacuate, and loss of power lead to the hurricane health risks we’re about to discuss. While we’re no longer at the stage where we can prevent them, we can learn for the future.
Hurricane health risks that are unavoidable: destroyed homes and destroyed minds
According to some reports, around 285 people refused to evacuate their homes in Mexico Beach. While this may seem insane to some, their actions stem from the desire to guard what they hold precious. In a few cases, a lack of resources and mobility issues may have resulted in said defiance.
When a person loses their home, they’ll move through a period of grief. For many, their properties are the work of a lifetime. They’re the places where they provide shelter for themselves and their family. While storm preparedness temporarily limits loss of life, it doesn’t provide certainty about the future.
It is, therefore, safe to assume that one of the biggest hurricane health risks is a decline in mental health. Conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can arise from missing a near disaster. Both depression and anxiety can accompany homelessness and the prospect of rebuilding a life.
While hurricane preparedness can’t prevent this, good support networks can. If you know someone who has lost their home, find ways to support them through this stressful time and help them rebuild their lives.
Power loss and medications: damage to medication and unsanitary living conditions
In North Carolina alone more than 604,000 people have lost power. For those who require electricity to cool medications, this can lead to severe consequences. One example is insulin, which often requires cool conditions to remain usable. In the absence of such medications, life-threatening conditions such as Diabetic Keto Acidosis could arise.
With the disruption of water supplies and storm surge comes the risk that drinking water will become unsanitary. This places those at the heart of Hurricane Michael’s impact at the risk of either suffering from dehydration or developing a diarrheal disease.
In advance of such storms, finding shelter where a generator is available and stocking up on water is both advisable. In the aftermath, turning to local support agencies may be the best way to secure sanitary conditions.
Physical risks following the storm’s impact
One of the first deaths to be recorded came following a tree branch causing a crush injury. Although the storm has now decategorized to Category 1, it has left the following hazards in its wake:
- Loose tree branches and other solid implements, which have the potential to fall and crush.
- Loose electrical lines, which carry an electrocution risk.
- Flooding and storm surges, which may wash away cars and cause drowning.
For those who have sought shelter and hunkered down, awaiting further instructions is advisable before moving elsewhere.
While the hurricane health risks are ongoing, the storm itself is calming. For now, moving with caution is the best way for others to start rebuilding their lives in the safest way possible.