There are also public health implications in many kinds of disasters. When power outages occur, food can spoil, leading to illness. People whose medications require refrigeration will have to use backup methods to keep their medications cold. If electricity is out, sewage cannot be pumped, and water may not reach our houses. This can cause sanitation problems.
A public health emergency can be a disaster in its own right, such as an outbreak of dengue fever, severe influenza, ebola, or illness caused by bioterrorism. Some foodborne illnesses can also cause widespread disease which is especially dangerous for frail or elderly people and their caregivers.
The Hawaii State Department of Health has staff on Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island who are trained in emergency preparedness and response. For more information, click here: Department of Health, Public Health Preparedness.