Frequently asked questions in case of emergencies
The information below gives responses to questions that are likely to be frequently asked during an emergency. They are divided into four categories — Health risks linked to drinking-water and sanitation; health risks due to stagnant water; immediate actions that should be taken in respect of water, hygiene, and sanitation; and the nature of WHO's response to the emergency.
Health risks: Drinking-water and sanitation
- What actions are most urgent in relation to water, sanitation and health?
- What water, sanitation and hygiene behaviours are most important for protecting health during an emergency?
- What are the greatest drinking-water and sanitation dangers to human health, and who are the most vulnerable groups?
- Are there any risks which may become increasingly acute as the time since a disaster evolves?
- What is the minimum quantity of water needed?
- What are good indications that water is safe?
- Should all water used for domestic purposes be treated?
- Are there disease risks from dead bodies and what should be done for safe disposal?
- What are the health risks related to overcrowding?
Health risks: stagnant water
- Where is the risk of malaria most acute and what should be done?
- What are the health risks related to stagnant water?
- Are there different health risks linked to fresh and brackish (salty) water?
- Where is the risk of dengue fever most acute and what should be done?
- Where is the risk of Japanese Encephalitis most acute and what should be done?
- How can water be most effectively treated at household level and on a large scale?
- What are the options of getting safe water to people in affected areas?
- How can personal hygiene be maintained in difficult circumstances?
- What should people who have no access to sanitation facilities do and how can you minimize risk?
- Is waste management a priority in such precarious situations?
Recent WSH publications
Water Safety in Distribution Systems
Toxic cyanobacteria in water
Management of solid health-care waste at primary health-care centres
Updated WHO/WEDC Technical Notes on WASH in Emergencies
Safe management of wastes from healthcare activities - Second edition
Progress on sanitation and drinking-water