Flood precautions

In Barbados, while one of the biggest fears is wind damage to property during a storm, the most frequent challenge with which our population has had to deal with over the years has been flooding. The impact has at times been quite severe, even when all the island got from a passing weather system had been a “brush”.

It is important that persons who are impact by flooding follow certain precautions.

Following are some examples:


Watch for news media announcements about the safety of public drinking water supplies. Follow “boil water” alerts that may be issued by local authorities. Take no chances on water from an unknown source.

If instructions have been given to boil water, it is for your safety and you should follow the instructions. Alternatively, use bottled water.

If you boil water for drinking purposes, allow it to boil for at least one minute. Water also may be disinfected with chlorine or iodine (follow package directions) or with ordinary household bleach – one eighth teaspoon (about eight drops) per gallon of water. Sterilise water containers and drinking vessels with a solution of household bleach.


Do not eat foods that have been in contact with floodwater.

If electricity has been off, refrigerated food may have spoiled. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours or if it has an unusual odour or colour. Thawed foods from freezers may be safe for consumption or refreezing if they still are partially frozen or are “refrigerated cold”.

Babies on formula should be given ready-to-feed formula or powdered formula prepared with bottled drinking water.

Wash hands with soap and disinfected water before eating or handling foods, after clean-up work and after handling floodwater-contaminated items.

Environmental Hazards:

Wildlife may seek shelter in trees, homes and vehicles. Bats are often injured in heavy rains and winds. Do not handle these. Seek immediate treatment if bitten or injured by an animal. Beware of displaced pets.

* Return home in daylight for best visibility and to avoid using unsafe power sources. Do not use lanterns or torches until after the premises are safe from gas leaks.

* Standing water after floods is a breeding place for mosquitoes. Drain all standing water and empty water from outdoor items such as old tires, cans and flower pot bases. Protect yourself with an appropriate insect repellent.

* Let no one re-enter your home while flooded unless the main electrical switch has been turned off.

* Wear shoes in post-flood areas to reduce the chances of punctures or cuts from nails and other sharp contaminated objects.


Persons with puncture wounds or cuts exposed to floodwater could be at risk of contracting tetanus and may need to have a tetanus shot to prevent infection.


* Do not allow children to play in or near floodwater or storm drains.

* Disinfect all furniture, woodwork and other household surfaces in homes that have flooded.

* Wash hands frequently during cleanup to lessen recontamination of cleaned areas.

* Disinfect children’s toys with a solution of one cup bleach to five gallons of water.

* To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not operate gasoline-powered generators or pumps indoors.

* Try to rest and conserve energy. Persons with heart conditions and other illnesses should avoid strenuous exertion.

* Remain calm. Signs of anger and depression are normal under catastrophic conditions. Sensitivity to the stress felt by others can help restore their calm.

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