While hurricanes are known for causing swift and often devastating physical destruction, they can also cause equally serious emotional damage, said Dr. Janette Nesheiwat on Saturday, Oct. 1.
“It’s a traumatizing experience,” said Nesheiwat, a board-certified family and emergency medical professional and a Fox News medical contributor, during a “Fox & Friends Weekend” segment.
“You nearly lost your life, or you lost all your belongings. It’s a shock to the body.”
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This shock, she explained, can result in unclear decision-making by victims.
After a storm, she said, “you’re in distress, you’re stressed out, you don’t know what to do, you don’t know where to go — and that’s where you make poor decisions.”
Added Nesheiwat, “That’s when the PTSD kicks in. That’s when the infections set in.”
Dirty floodwaters can be another source of trouble, said Dr. Nesheiwat.
These floodwaters are often teeming with bacteria, which can infect cuts or scrapes in the skin. The infections, if left untreated, could turn serious.
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“It’s filled with sewage, and chemicals, and debris, and glass, and rusty metal and that sort of thing,” she said.
Nesheiwat noted that after Hurricane Katrina, she encountered many patients who were dealing with ulcers, respiratory issues and other infections that arose after the storm.
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Additionally, Nesheiwat raised concerns about the improper use of generators in the event of a power outage.
If people aren’t careful, they may put themselves at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly.
Nesheiwat came back to the topic of mental health issues during extreme weather events.
“The mental aspect of this, the emotional trauma, is really, truly devastating,” she said — and should be handled with the same amount of concern and attention given to physical health issues, she suggested.
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“Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy said that parents who are “suppressing some of their stress in order to keep [their] kids calm” are under pressure, too.
Health issues are compounded for the medically vulnerable, especially seniors, said Nesheiwat.
She advised that these individuals — ahead of any storm — take extra precautions such as making a “ready-to-go kit” and ensuring that medications are bagged up to stay dry and undamaged.
These bags should contain identification, money, chargers, a pair of dry clothes, snacks and some water, she said.
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“The best thing you can do is always — first of all — heed the warnings of the local officials,” she said.
Those who have elderly or vulnerable neighbors should check on them, she said, and use specially created hotlines for assistance if needed.
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In terms of all those who have been reaching out to others in this time of need, Dr. Nesheiwat said that “it’s beautiful to see the community coming together, working together, supporting one another.”