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Leah Sarich – Health Specialist: Flood Health

bt.calgary | posted Thursday, Jun 27th, 2013

As so many of us continue to clean up following these devastating floods in Southern Alberta, we have to remember to take care of ourselves.

No question pulling out carpets and ripping out drywall is hard work. But there are a few things to consider health wise as you do your demolition. I spoke with Urgent Care Physician Dr. Raj Bhardwaj and he says it’s important to let our feet dry out. He says people are working so long and hard in the water in their boots, their skin on their feet is starting to break down. Our skin is our best protection against infection, it’s our first line of defence, our barrier. But when the skin is wet for a prolonged period of time it starts to break down. And Dr. Bhardwaj says bacteria and fungus love to grow in moist and warm locations, like between wet toes. So Dr. Bhardwaj says please let your boots dry out, put on dry socks and let your feet dry out too….particularly between the toes.

Dr. Bhardwaj also says do not wear flip flops. Of course, flip flops are good in water, but not in this flooding situation. You cannot see what’s in the muddy water, so it easy to step on nails and screws and flip flops offer no protection.

Also when it comes to clean up, you’ll inevitably get cuts and scrapes. Dr. Bhardwaj says you want to stop the bleeding on the cuts as soon as possible by applying pressure. If you’re having trouble doing this, he says get to a clinic. If your wound has stopped bleeding it needs to be cleaned and disinfected. Soap, water and polysporin is the protocol. This is also a good time to make sure your tetanus is up to date. The shot is effective for 10 years. If you can’t remember the last time you had one, it’s probably a good time to get a booster at your family doctor’s office or walk in clinic.

And finally, Dr. Bhardwaj is encouraging everyone to try and get some good quality rest and to eat well. As difficult as this may be to do at this time, it will keep your immune system functioning at optimal levels to keep you safe from infection.

If you have any questions about your health during the flooding, don’t hesitate to called HealthLink at 403-943-LINK. It’s staffed 24 hours a day with nurses who are willing and able to help.

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