December 2019 JEH: Direct From CDC/Environmental Health Services
December 2019 Journal of Environmental Health (Volume 82, Number 5)
Environmental Health Shelter Assessments: Using Tools to Protect Occupants After Disasters
Kelsey McDavid, MPH, National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Miguel Cruz, MPH, PhD National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Every year, disasters affect jurisdictions across the U.S. and its territories. These disasters, whether natural or human-made, often result in displaced people—either ahead of the event to protect people or following the event because of damage and destruction to homes. Many of these displaced individuals will be housed in a disaster shelter. Public health environmental health teams have a key role in protecting the health of people in shelters. Meeting the basic human needs of people for safe shelter, food, water, and space are high priorities for any disaster response and recovery operation.
Environmental health teams need simple tools that are easy to implement across various disaster types to evaluate and document potential health threats in shelters. This month’s column highlights the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated Shelter Assessment Tool and how it and other resources can be used to assist environmental health professionals in ensuring that disaster shelter facilities remain safe, clean, and monitored for potential environmental hazards.