Watson delineates disasters to include “earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis, floods, and drought” (1). Natural disasters can have a multitude of effects upon a immunity from both economic and social standpoints, as well as from physical and psychological perspectives. A natural disaster undeniably causes a great strain on both food and water supplies; the effects Of a natural disaster on water supply and the concomitant medical and economic results of water emergencies are often underestimated and misunderstood.
Obtaining accurate information is the first step in determining a need for a disaster preparedness plan; understanding the medical results that may result in a natural disaster due to compromised water supplies further andante a need for disaster preparedness plans both at the familial and the community levels. Elucidating natural disasters’ effects on water supply, both medically and economically, provides communities and individuals with knowledge on how to prepare and minimize the effects of potentially catastrophic events.
A natural disaster is defined as “an event of nature, which overwhelms local resources and threatens the function and safety of the community,” and is largely, “the ultimate test of a community’s emergency response capability” (March 1). While “[e]very disaster scenario is unique in its own way and resents new and unusual challenges to victims and emergency personnel alike,” “disaster situations do follow general patterns and develop along similar paths” (1 Individual families need to have basic disaster kits prepared and always easily accessible (see Figures IA and 1 B).
But, what is the role of communities and societies in response to a natural disaster? Economic communities and societies have a responsibility to their individual and collective members: “In 2005, Hurricanes Strain and Rite struck the Gulf Coast approximately 3 weeks and 250 miles apart, forcing the largest mass evacuation and causing the most wide-spread evacuation experienced in the U. S. Since the sass’s Dust Bowl” (Fame et al. 1). If we add to natural disasters the increasing vulnerability caused by human activity, such as industrialization, uncontrolled arbitration, and the deterioration of the environment, we see a dramatic increase in frequency and effects of natural disasters” (“Natural Disaster Mitigation” 1 Many studies have elucidated that there is a tendency to believe that natural disasters are rare events and that recurrence will be either non-existent or lacking in comparable severity.
However, in reality the consequences tend to be more severe; not only have natural disasters increased in intensity and severity but the at-risk population and community infrastructures have continued to grow. We, as a society, need to face these realities and incorporate probable outcomes of natural disasters into disaster preparedness plans and emergency response protocols.
Drinking water and sewerage services are essential to ensuring the health and well-being of populations and, as such, fulfill an important role in the processes of disaster preparedness and emergency response: “Most of us ant survive more than three days without [water) and natural disasters often knock water-treatment plants offline” (Galvan 61). In emergency or disaster situations these basic services are not only imperative in reducing the incidence and prevalence of communicable diseases but also imperative for the rapid return to normalcy.
One of the first priorities after a disaster is to provide safe drinking water. This along with shelter, medication, and food are “crucial to prevent the spread of waterborne disease” (Lo et al. 3126). Underscoring the seriousness regarding the necessity Of clean Water is the daggering statistic that “Ce]very 8 seconds, somewhere in the world a child dies from drinking dirty water” (U. S. Intelligence Report 1). Therefore, a fast response is required to establish a clean water supply to the affected population.
While bottled water and water tankers have previously been delivered to affected populations, it has been found that setting up onsite water technology is more practical and sustainable: “Overloading of microbial and chemical pollutants in water increases the potential failure of conventional water treatment systems” (Lo et al. 3127). Although many efferent water treatment systems are available, varied consequences of natural disasters must be considered to determine the feasibility of such water treatment options. Seibel complications include the accessibility of roads, the type of potential renewable energy that can be harnessed onsite, and the extent of treatment required for removal of turbidity, pathogens, harmful chemicals, taste, and odor. Although all of these difficulties elicit obstacles in developing water technology and management procedures, they are not insurmountable. Such issues require both creative and proactive inconsideration in the development of a workable disaster preparedness and subsequent emergency response plan.
One of the recent plans that proved to be very successful occurred in response to the potable water emergency that was experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Strain. The Gnaws Forward Deployable Preventive Medicine Unit (FIEFDOM) responded to the disaster and found that New Orleans’ “most abundant natural resource had, [in less than 24 hours, turned] from hero to villain” (Pinky 14). “Rescuers, dependent on water they had to bring in themselves, in a tragic irony used en hand to pull the living out of the contaminated water that could kill them while using the other hand to feed those same people water to save them” (16).
The UPPED knew that “clean water means more than just having a safe source for drinking (19). “Poor hygiene breaks down the immune system, making the body more susceptible to diseases and infections” (19) which are commonly considered ancillary consequences of natural disasters. In response to the disaster UPPED brought more than “fancy water testing equipment, they brought the ability to fix the problems they discovered as ell by testing the water supply and coordinating with the Seabed to bring chlorine levels up to where they need to be to have clean, safe drinking water” (19).
Natural disasters increase the risk of disease due to unsafe drinking water; however, diseases typically presented are not only gastrointestinal diseases. According to the Disease Control Priorities Project, “[A]n increased number of hospital visits due to diarrhea diseases, acute respiratory infections, dermatitis and other causes should be expected following most disasters” (2).
Natural disasters are also complicated events within which people are objected to a multitude of medical risks and dangers: “In addition to the immediate trauma and injuries suffered by the victims of natural disasters, studies have shown that several secondary medical conditions have a higher incidence” and “can be attributed, at least in part, to the immense stress that is placed on individuals during a disaster situation” (March 6). Persons who are already miscomprehended or diagnosed with either acute or chronic conditions are further susceptible to the secondary medical effects of a natural disaster.
Interruption of regular medical services further complicates hose individual’s situations. In the aftermath of a major natural disaster and immediate response protocols such as delivery of potable water to victims, an increase in the incidence of myocardial infarction’s is not uncommon: “The sudden increase in heart attacks [is], in part, attributable to previously sedentary persons becoming suddenly and intensely active throughout the rescue period” (6).
Another explanation for the increase is that the “physiological ‘fight or flight’ response that is initiated during times of perceived personal danger is contributory to the post catastrophe acute historical infarction’s” (6). While such secondary medical conditions are not the direct result of unsafe drinking water, “[I]t is common for many behavioral responses to natural disasters to remain subtly buried within a victim’s coping mechanisms, surfacing only under close observation of key health related habits such as sleeping, eating, smoking, or alcohol consumption” (7).
Diseases that are primary outcomes of the lack of sustainable water supplies after a natural disaster are not limited to gastroenteritis. Diarrhea outbreaks and other gastroenteritis diseases are usually encountered by deiced professionals as a result of Escherichia coli or circumscription costs contamination Of water supplies during a natural disaster. However, other diseases have also been diagnosed by physicians serving populations subjected to a natural disaster. Following a natural disaster, medical services are utilized for other diseases including eye and skin infections.
Infectious skin diseases, scarifies, incomes of skin, and rashes” are skin diseases commonly associated with compromised water supplies often inherent to natural disasters (Human et al. 727). Eye diseases commonly presented to deiced personnel following exposure to unsafe water include “conjunctivitis, inflammation of the eyelid, and trachea” (727). Obviously, these are not diseases associated with oral consumption of unsafe water but are the direct result of unsafe water usage for personal hygiene, laundry, kitchen, and restroom maintenance.
While these diseases may not be life-threatening they certainly can impede the effectiveness and efficiency of individuals attempting to participate in natural disaster clean-up efforts. Vector and insect-borne diseases are significant medical concerns following natural disaster: “[S]tanning water provides an ideal environment for mosquito to breed” (Logon 41 “Although the first mosquito to appear will likely be little more than a nuisance,” (41) the standing water which attracts them constitutes a major health concern for concomitant outbreaks of West Nile, SST.
Louis encephalitis, and dengue fever. Workers responsible for handling human and animal corpses, potential vectors of disease, also should practice good personal hygiene. These corpses potentially “harbor infectious pathogens, such as blood-borne viruses, including hepatitis virus and the unman immunodeficiency virus, enteric pathogens, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis” (44). Hence thorough cleansing, with potable water, by workers responsible for appropriate removal of corpses, is both necessary and inherent to preclude further disease transmission.
Both globally and within our own country, it appears there has been an alarming rise in the incidence of natural disasters. Complications arise which can produce negative outcomes in economic, social, physical, and psychological areas to individuals, communities, and societies as a whole. Often these are not only affecting individuals and societies locally, but have a deleterious effect globally as well. We, for our own survival as well as humanitarian reasons, are compelled to examine the multitude of complications encountered by such natural disasters.
The outcome of a natural disaster immediately impacts water supplies. It is imperative that we inspect any probable water supply insufficiencies. Protocols for the remediation of water supply deficiencies need to be inspected and ready to be utilized prior to a natural disaster; determination of such protocols in the aka of a natural disaster is not only ineffectual but also may have destructive consequences to both individuals and societies.
Sensate water supply affects hydration and personal hygiene needs as well as initiating primary and secondary medical consequences. These consequences are not only life-threatening, often they are fatal. Individuals, communities, and societies need to be aware of the probability of injurious consequences as a result of a natural disaster and mandate that disaster preparedness plans exist and are available immediately for implementation in the occurrence of a catastrophic event.