The Health Risks of Water-shedding

South Africa could soon face the prospect of planned water outages due to a number of factors:

  • the contamination of our water resources;
  • the growing demand as the population increases;
  • inefficient infrastructure; and
  • due to climate change, rainfall levels are also rapidly dropping.   

It is expected that Water-shedding may cause that at times, South Africans won’t have access to sufficient water and that could make Load-shedding look like a walk in the park.

Although electricity cuts may pose threats to your health, they are more of a disruption to your lifestyle than anything else. However, the lack of water holds serious health dangers as there is no other alternative for this basic human necessity.

According to the World Healthcare Organisation, when water is scarce, people are often forced to resort to water sources that might not be safe.  Unsafe water can be detrimental to your family’s health, as water scarcity may lead to the quick breeding and spread of hygiene-related diseases.

While it may be upsetting to do without water for a while, it is best to plan ahead and to be prepared.

Be sure to keep your family safe by following these steps when a Water-shedding notice is announced:

  • Municipalities may sometimes provide water to residents at communal water-points; make sure you have containers ready in the car to drive to the nearest water-point as soon as the taps run dry.
  • Purchase a few 5L plastic water containers for drinking-water and make sure your containers are tightly sealed to avoid bacteria entering and contaminating the water. Containers with a turn-tap are convenient and will also ensure that you don’t spill valuable drinking-water as you pour.
  • Prepare food with clean drinking water and don’t use the water collected at communal water-points as it could lead to water-borne diseases if the water has been polluted.
  • If you have a baby on formula milk it is very important to keep some boiled and cooled down water at hand before the water is turned off to give them their milk as needed.
  • People tend to lower their fluid-intake during a water outage, because they are afraid their drinking-water supply may run out. Try to keep the family hydrated, especially children, as they dehydrate very quickly. Being thirsty is a sign that a person is already dehydrated. Dangerous signs of dehydration are darkening urine, severe thirst, irritability or lethargy (in children), palpitations and dizziness.
  • Fill a spritzer-bottle with fresh water and keep clean hand-towels ready to clean the kids’ hands before and after meals.
  • If you don’t have a swimming pool as back-up water for flushing the toilets, fill buckets and even empty dustbins to store water.
  • Fill the bath and basins in the bathroom to ensure you have enough to maintain personal hygiene. The used bath water can also be reused to flush the toilet.
  • Don’t store water for too long as it may become stale and attract germs; make sure to wash all the drinking-water containers when the water comes back so they are ready to be used for the next water outage.

By making a few lifestyle changes, it is possible to keep your family’s health and safety a priority during water outages. Let’s just hope that now we don’t have to experience Water-shedding and Load-shedding simultaneously.


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