Sanitise it

Dirty and unsanitary surfaces or items can spread illness

One of the most important things to prepare in the event of a hurricane – or another emergency – is the ability to keep everything you use clean and sanitary.

Utilities, such as water and electricity, may be cut off, so it’s important to plan ahead.

Dirty and unsanitary surfaces or items can spread illness and disease, resulting in everything from stomach aches, nausea and diarrhoea to more serious ailments that require medical attention.

Being vigilant about cleanliness and informed of sanitising methods is one way to prevent a difficult situation from getting worse.


Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water, perishable foods and those with an unusual odour, colour or texture. This isn’t the time to guess or take a chance on something as you might under normal conditions. When in doubt, throw it out.

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Bleach is your friend during and after a hurricane. After washing surfaces with soap and water to remove dirt and debris, sanitise them with diluted household bleach. This can be applied to everything from food surfaces to food cans and sinks, toys, flatware, plates and tools. It can also be used to combat mould growth on hard surfaces.

Have plenty of soap on hand as well as detergent, sanitising wipes and hand gel. The latter will keep the germs at bay without requiring water which may be in short supply.

Make sure you also stock up on paper towels, as laundering cloth towels could be difficult for a while,
as well as toilet paper and lots of strong garbage bags.

Wear rubber gloves, boots and even goggles whenever possible during a clean-up of an affected area. The more you protect yourself, the more chance you have of escaping dangerous germs.


If water is in short supply, flushing toilets is a wasteful and possible hazardous thing to do. Each flush takes about a gallon of water, which is a lot when there are limited amounts around.

For a temporary solution, you can line the dry toilet bowl with a garbage bag, and then use it to remove the waste from the house.

A five-gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag also makes a good makeshift toilet.


Do not ever use water you suspect may have been contaminated to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, make ice or make baby formula.

Finding safe drinking water is paramount, particularly as your body requires constant hydration.

If you don’t have safe, bottled water, boiling is the surest method to make water safer to drink by killing disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria and parasites. Bring water to a rolling boil for three to five minutes.

Pay attention to Cayman’s authorities about the status of your water supply. Use only bottled or disinfected water for drinking and cooking until the public water supplies have been declared safe.

Boil-water orders are often issued after a hurricane. That’s usually because the public water utility has lost pressure in its water-moving systems, making it possible for contaminants to enter water lines. The danger with tainted public supplies is from bacterial contamination that can cause severe diarrhoea, which can be life-threatening if untreated.

Water saved in bottles before the storm should be good for up to six months, if properly stored.

Always wash hands with soap and clean water that has been sterilised.
If there is no water, use hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.

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