13 tips to stay healthy during the drought crisis in Cape Town

We have been inundated with water saving tips, but with Day Zero moving closer and closer for Cape Town residents, it’s critical to ensure you take extra care of your family’s health with the water restrictions in place.


When the dam levels reach 13.5%, Cape Town will begin to shut down its reticulation system in residential areas, which essentially means the taps will run dry. Day Zero, currently earmarked for mid-May 2018, has serious ramifications for the city, which has already been declared a disaster area.

“With a water crisis comes potential health risks. Even before the taps are turned off, when clean drinking water is not readily available, there is a high risk of some diseases that you need to anticipate and mitigate,” says Gerhard Van Emmenis, Principal Officer of Bonitas Medical Fund.

 ALSO SEE: How to teach your kids to save water

The Bonitas Babyline Team suggests these 10 tips to help you stay healthy ahead of the taps being turned off:

  1. Boil water or use water purification tablets for the rain water you are able to capture. However, preferably use this for flushing the toilet, not for drinking.
  2. With the listeriosis outbreak as well as the possibility of a Hepatitis A outbreak, it’s important to wash your fresh produce before using and eating it.
  3. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or wet wipes to keep your hands clean.
  4. Bicarb and vinegar are excellent for cleaning, especially as it doesn’t destroy water for grey use.
  5. Dodgy tummy prep: Rehydrate, probiotics and medicine for stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  6. Use vinegar in the toilet and drains to help with any odours and bacteria.
  7. Clean with micro-fibre cloths or rags as sponges become unsanitary. It’s far easier to clean cloths and hang them up immediately. You can also throw rags away. Alternatively wipe down surfaces using wet wipes.
  8. Stock up on bottled water exclusively for drinking while water stations are being sorted out. The recommendation is 5 liters a day and to have four days’ worth of fresh water per person. Do not drink non-potable water (gray water). This water should also not be used for cooking.
  9. Vaccinate against Hepatitis A if you have never been vaccinated (especially healthcare workers, communal food handlers, patients in long-term care facilities and immune-compromised people.)

Tips for kids under the age of three years:

  • Care should be taken to adequately sterilise bottles and pacifiers. In the current heat, any formula or milk left in the bottle after a feed should be discarded if not consumed immediately. Make just enough for baby for each feed.
  • Make sure your child has enough water to drink and is well hydrated. Children often do not realise they are thirsty while playing in the heat.

ALSO SEE: Signs and symptoms of dehydration

  • With water restrictions, children are prone to bacterial and fungal infections of the skin. Ensuring the skin is cleaned as thoroughly as possible every day will help prevent these infections.

ALSO SEE: 4 childhood summer illnesses to look out for

  • The single biggest threat to child health with water restrictions is from gastroenteritis. Make sure food is prepared as hygienically as possible and reduce the amount of bought cold foods and salads in the child’s diet. Cooked foods served fresh are best.
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