Things to keep in mind while moving back home after the floods

The unprecedented floods that hit Kerala have caused destruction to millions of people in ways that cannot be explained. The lives of a million people that came to a halt and found their way into various relief camps across the state have now slowly begun to recoup. While people who were displaced from their homes are now on a journey to get back to their normal lives through the slush and dirt, dampened doors and disintegrating walls, there is a list of essential factors that they need to know!

1. The return

One of the first factors to consider while returning to a home that was affected by the floods is to never go alone. Also, ensure that you go during the day time with a group of people so that they can be of help in case there is an emergency. Refrain from going during the night as you might not be able to see your surroundings well. Remember to avoid taking children to clean the home, as there is always a high chance of an infection breaking out.

2. Go well equipped

It is extremely important to go well equipped when you return to your damaged home as you might come across debris inside or outside your house. Wear hand gloves, masks to cover your nose from all kinds of foul smell and foot wear like gumboots to protect yourself from coming in direct contact with objects that may cause an infection.

3. Expect the unexpected

After the floods there are very high chances for creatures like snakes and other reptiles to have found shelter inside your house. They could be found inside the cupboard, under the cot, on the table, inside the kitchen or even in the attic. It is important to prepare yourself to expect the unexpected in your home.

4. Do a thorough inspection

Just before you enter your home that was flooded, it is important to switch off the electrical main switch outside your residence. After that, perform a thorough inspection of the wiring, switches, plug points and all other electrical equipments and carefully unplug them. If you spot any damages in the electrical equipment or wiring system, call a qualified electrician. In cases where the meter board is seen dampened, you will have to contact KSEB immediately. It is also important to open flushes and taps to see if it is mud water or fresh water that is gushing out.

5. Keep away danger

As soon as you enter your home, open all the windows and allow fresh air to come in. Take extreme care to ensure that you don’t accidentally light a match, candle or a cigarette as there may be a cooking gas leak in the kitchen.

6. Danger in the fridge

Avoid carelessly opening refrigerators when you get back home. The spoilt food that is present inside the refrigerator, especially non-vegetarian food would have produced dangerous gases like methane that can exit with force.

7. Do not force open

While entering your home, take special care while opening its doors as wooden doors would have bloated during the floods. Applying extensive force to force open these doors can make the roofs and walls to become unstable. People with concrete walls/fence around their house must be keep this in mind while opening the gates as these structures were soaked in water for days and there are high chances for concrete structures to collapse.

8. Clean the well

It is extremely important to clean the well and to ensure that the water in the well at your home is safe to use. One of the best ways to ensure that your well is disinfected is by using bleaching powder. First, estimate the amount of water in the well and take necessary bleaching powder (five grams per 1,000 litres of water) in a bucket and fill three-fourth of the bucket with water and mix well. Keep it still for 10 minutes. Immerse the clear solution into the well slowly and allow it to mix with the water properly. The water may be used after an hour.

9. Pumps can burn up

After the flood water has gone down and the pump and electrical system have had time to dry out, do not turn on any equipment until a qualified electrician or well/pump contractor has checked all hardware. If the pump’s control panel was under water at any time, all electrical components must be completely dry before electrical service can be restored. Pumps and all of their electrical wires and hardware can be easily damaged by sediment and flood water. The pump (including the valves and gears) must be thoroughly cleaned of silt and sand. If pumps are not cleaned and lubricated, they could burn up. Contact a well/pump contractor who will be able to clean, repair or maintain different kinds of pumps.

10. Preventive measures

It is mandatory for volunteers or people who clean their homes themselves to carry bleaching powder, hand sanitizers, chlorine tablets ORS packets, antiseptic ointments and bottled water. It is also advisable for them to take the tetanus toxoid, Hepatitis A or typhoid injections as preventive measures from infections that can spread from these homes. People are also advised to report to the nearest medical care facility if they develop symptoms like muscle pain, calf pain, jaundice, etc.