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Health Risks Will Rise in Sandy's Wake, Experts Warn
Date:10/31/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The torrential rains and hurtling winds of "superstorm" Sandy are slowly passing through, along with some of the more acute health dangers such as falling trees and high flood waters.

But in the days, weeks and months to come, residents of the hardest hit areas will face myriad risks to their health, experts say.

Sandy, dubbed a post-tropical cyclone by the National Hurricane Center, swept through the U.S. Northeast on Monday and Tuesday, leaving entire towns under water and dozens dead.

Overall, an estimated 7.2 million people across the Northeast were without power Tuesday morning, including much of New York City.

First, experts say, there are short-term hazards. Residents struggling to return and re-establish themselves in the region can't afford to forget that water plus electricity can add up to lethal danger.

"Don't try to deal with electricity while any part of your body is touching water," urged Dr. Pavani Ram, associate professor of social and preventive medicine at the University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions. "If you're standing in water, you shouldn't be trying to turn the electricity off or touch any kind of electrical appliance."

Then there's the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from small generators, especially if the generators are placed in poorly ventilated areas such as a garage or basement, Ram added.

Longer-term dangers loom, as well. Ironically, all the water unleashed by Sandy could mean a shortage of clean drinking water. Residents need to be on the alert for water-related advisories from the health department or local water authority. Even in the absence of such alerts, they may want to stick to bottled or boiled water until they get more information.

People should also be careful about consuming perishable food, such as eggs or milk, that's been
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