In the wake of the tsunami warning, many residents and tourists along coastal areas of Hawaii have been evacuated. At this point it seems that major damage has not occurred, but it’s possible that people in some areas will have to stay in evacuation centers for some period of time.
Evacuation centers concentrate people in a small area a safe distance from disaster. But they carry health risks of their own, as diarrheal diseases, eye infections, and food contamination.
Here are some simple precautions to take if you’re in an evacuation center:
- Wash your hands often. Most diseases are transmitted by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose. ALWAYS wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, before eating food, and before preparing food.
- If soap and water are not nearby, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- If there is an outbreak of any infectious disease such as pinkeye, stop shaking hands with other people.
- Make sure food is stored, cooked, prepared, and served in ways that prevent contamination (for example, food preparers should be healthy and wash their hands; food should be kept hot and stored cold; and food should be consumed soon after preparation).
- If you or a family member is sick or has an infection, move the family to an area of the evacuation center set apart for ill people and their families.