"Short-term we are concerned about injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning, gastrointestinal problems because of contaminated water or food, mold is a concern and just general infection control-type things," said Dr. Sven Rodenbeck, acting incident manager for the CDC’s response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. "Longer term, probably the biggest thing is mental health."
As Rodenbeck indicated, people who experience natural disasters are at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The CDC has sent personnel and supplies to areas affected by the hurricanes and its Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response has been using social media to spread the word about topics ranging from safe chainsaw use to post-trauma mental health.
The CDC has also partnered with businesses such as Home Depot and Lowe’s to ensure that carbon monoxide monitors are placed directly next to generators.
Being prepared for a hurricane or any natural disaster can make the aftermath easier to navigate, but the CDC says that only half of American adults have a plan in place or a stock of emergency supplies. Detailed step-by-step guidelines on emergency planning can be viewed on the CDC's website.
These are the key elements of hurricane preparation:
• Making an emergency plan.
• Securing a three- to five-day supply of water, non-perishable food, and baby formula and baby food if needed.
• Gathering prescription medications, personal care products and emergency supplies, and storing them in an easy-to-reach spot.
• Deciding whether to evacuate or stay in place.