Community Disaster Management Environment Housing Safety 

PUBLIC HEALTH & SAFETY MEASURES FOR HOMEOWNERS IN BARBUDA

Subsequent to the lifting of the mandatory evacuation order for Barbuda, many Barbudans are expected to return to the island.

While it is the right of Barbudans to return to their community, the Ministry of Health & the Environment is cautioning the returning residents to appreciate that basic medical and utility services are still at a minimum and that every effort must be made to minimize the health and safety risks that are often associated with hazardous conditions associated with the passing of a hurricane.

The Ministry is also advising the residents of Barbuda who decide to return home that even though the mosquito threat has been neutralized, it is important to practice preventive measures to ensure that the threat does not return.

The Ministry, therefore, suggests that the following precautions be taken:

Vector Control:

  • Cover all water catchments with cloth, mesh or original covering
  • Ensure overflow of tank is covered with cloth of mesh
  • If containers are breeding mosquitoes, add a few drops of cooking oil to create a thin film over the surface of the water
  • Add topsoil, stones or dirt into any holes capable of holding water
  • Empty and upturn pet’s feeding bowls to avoid water settlement and also to deter rodent activity
  • For plants that grow in water, the vase should be emptied, the walls of the vase thoroughly washed every seven (7) days and the roots of the plants should be washed as well to rid mosquito eggs
  • Affix wire meshes to windows to prevent the entry of mosquitoes

Avoiding Personal Injury while doing Home Repairs:

  • Cleanup after the destruction of a hurricane can be a very dangerous time. While making repairs, you can be seriously injured using power tools, climbing ladders and working on roofs
  • If you are not experienced using power tools like chainsaws, or comfortable using ladders or working at heights, ask for help from professionals
  • If you going to make repairs, have someone help you and always pace yourself
  • Wear the appropriate boots, gloves, and coveralls

 Avoid the Dangers of Standing Water:

  • Standing water could be hazardous and present  a danger to health
  • There are health risks associated with standing water; potential electrocution (shock) from downed street lights and power lines, injury from floating insects, as well as illness from contaminated water
  • If you come into contact with standing water, thoroughly rinse any exposed body parts with soap and clean water to reduce the chance of illness

Food Safety:

Without Electricity Supply

  • Always practice frequent hand washing at all times
  • Purchase dry foods that have a longer shelf life
  • Pay careful attention to Expiry, Best By, Use Before, and Use By dates when purchasing foods
  • Purchase perishable foods only on a needs basis and cook only to be served, not to be saved
  • Avoid having leftovers that would require refrigeration storage
  • Properly wash all root crops (fiber roots) like potatoes and carrots
  • Avoid leaving already cooked foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Ensure foods are cooked to a temperature of 140F
  • Use only potable water for cooking, dishwashing, mopping
  • Begin and end each day’s activities in the household with the thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all food contact surfaces and food preparation areas
  • After meals, always scrape, wash, rinse, sanitize and air dry dish wares

With Electricity Supply:

  • Store meats for thawing in a container to prevent blood from dripping unto other stored foods to cause cross contamination
  • Promptly refrigerate all foods that are required to be kept cold at 40F or 5C
  • Protect foods from insects/rodent infestation
  • Use ice to keep food cold
  • Keep raw food frozen
  • Throw out all spoiled, contaminated and decomposing food
  • Use food gloves when handling and preparing some foods like vegetables that would not be cooked to prevent cross-contamination that can lead to foodborne illnesses

Waste Management: (Garbage and Sewage)

  • Properly store garbage in covered bins that are inaccessible to insects and rodents
  • Avoid spillage
  • Dispose of waste only in the approved way
  • Ensure human wastes are carefully disposed of in the approved wastes system in use; septic tanks with soakaways or in a pit latrine equipped with a snugly fit seat cover
  • Put all unwanted material in neat manageable piles at the side of the road

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Wear long sleeve blouses/ shirts and pants especially at dusk/dawn when on the exterior of homes to protect from mosquito bites
  • Use approved insect repellent anytime you’re outdoors
  • Sleep under bed net when needed
  • Wear the approved construction gloves when handling and removing waste materials generated by the hurricane to protect hands from possible injury
  • Wear the appropriate boots, gloves, and coveralls if involved in the island-wide cleanup campaign to protect against incurring injuries or harmful chemical spillage or leaks
  • Wear masks such as 3M dust masks
  • Use Mosquito nets (Contact Ministry of Health)

Water Safety:

  • Drinking water, also known as potable wateror improved drinking water, is water that is safe to drink or to use for food preparation, without risk of health problems
  • Use safe water especially for drinking and other personal uses
  • Access safe water for personal and other uses from an approved source, such as APUA, or from a reputable bottling plant
  • Practice storing small quantities of potable water in the home in a clean covered container or capped bottles
  • Arrange to have the Health Authorities to treat water stored in all Cisterns and Wells and in your tanks to ensure its safety before using the same for safe personal uses
  • Carefully cover any inlet/outlet (overflow etc) affixed to water systems to prevent the accessibility by mosquitoes
  • Use Household bleach and Chlorine tablets to make water safe for personal and domestic purposes. For household bleach use 4-8drops per gallon of water; wait 30 minutes then use
  • Boil water when required or obtain for use measured amounts of liquid Clorox/ Chlorine or Chlorine Tablets to assist with home treatment.

Hand Washing:

  • Wash hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom and after handling raw food

Using a Generator at Home:

  • The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire. Follow the directions supplied with the generator
  • To avoid electrocution, keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. Operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up on poles. Do not touch the generator with wet hands
  • Use generator outdoors and never indoors
  • Be sure to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite
  • Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can. Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator
  • Store the fuel outside of living areas in a locked shed or another protected area. To guard against accidental fire, do not store it near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator, or use a heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads
  • Check that the entire cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin
  • Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. Known as “backfeeding,” this practice puts utility workers, your neighbors and your household at risk of electrocution
  • Remember, even a properly connected portable generator can become overloaded, resulting in overheating or generator failure. Be sure to read the instructions
  • If necessary, stagger the operating times for various equipment to prevent overloads

Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning while operating a Generator at Home:

  • Never use a generator in the home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area
  • Keep generators away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors
  • Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY – DO NOT DELAY

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