|Health and safety measures during water-shedding|
|Saturday, 18 August 2012 16:01|
One of the main diseases that people contract when there is no access to clean, safe drinking tap water is diarrhoea. Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death in children under five years, despite the fact that it is both preventable and treatable. During the water-shedding months it is important to ensure that we take care of our health and that of our families.
Diarrhoea is a symptom of infections caused by a host of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms, most of which spread by faeces-contaminated water. Infection is more common when there is a shortage of clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Rotavirus and Escherichia coli are the two most common causes of diarrhoea in developing countries. The bacteria and the virus can be contracted and spread through contaminated water, contaminated food, unsanitary disposal of human waste and poor personal hygiene.
It is important that residents use clean and safe containers to store their drinking water during this period of water-shedding. There is a need to keep water containers closed or covered to avoid bacterial access. Uncovered containers are open to all kinds of bacterial contamination and may result in the spread of diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Water-shedding also does not mean that food preparation should be carried out in unhygienic conditions. Residents are encouraged to ensure that vegetables are washed properly and that people continue to wash their hands before eating. Utensils should be kept clean and rinsed thoroughly with the water that would have been saved.
The various forms of containers that residents resort to for storing water during this period need to be clean and free of chemicals. When residents purchase containers to use for storing water, they need to ensure that these were not previously used for storing chemicals or other toxic elements. While we note the need to store water, chemicals or other toxins when mixed with water, have devastating effects on the family. There is need to also avoid water containers that are prone to rust.
Most children are drawn to water because it is sparkly, things float in it and it is fun to splash. It is important to highlight that water is not a laughing matter and anyone can have a water- related accident even children who know how to swim. During the shedding period, parents and guardians should store water in closed containers and ensure that open water containers are covered or are kept in closed rooms that children and toddlers do not have access to. Parents should ensure that children are not left unsupervised near pools, water containers and bath tubs that have been filled with water.
The City of Bulawayo continues to encourage residents to boil borehole water before use. Efforts have been made to test borehole water in most residential areas to ensure that residents have access to clean and safe water for consumption during the water shedding period.
The quality of borehole water however, fluctuates due to a number of factors such as the water table, activities that are carried out near the boreholes such as dumpsites, sewer bursts among others. Borehole water can be used for washing and other activities and for drinking and cooking the water should always be boiled before use.
Water in a country is a limited resource and worth more than gold. If everyone saves a little, we can save a lot.
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