Introduction: This systematic literature review aims to identify documented impacts that windstorms have on human health. Windstorms occur frequently and some researchers have predicted an increase in severe gales in the future, resulting in an urgent need to understand the related patterns of morbidity and mortality. Study design: Systematic literature review. Methods: A systematic literature review of international evidence on the impacts of windstorms on human health was conducted in May 2012. Results: This review of published evidence demonstrates that human health can be severely affected by windstorms. Direct effects occur during the impact phase of a storm, causing death and injury due to the force of the wind. Becoming airborne, being struck by flying debris or falling trees and road traffic accidents are the main dangers. Indirect effects, occurring during the pre- and post-impact phases of the storm, include falls, lacerations and puncture wounds, and occur when preparing for, or cleaning up after a storm. Power outages are a key issue and can lead to electrocution, fires and burns and carbon monoxide poisoning from gasoline powered electrical generators. Additionally, worsening of chronic illnesses due to lack of access to medical care or medication can occur. Other health impacts include infections and insect bites. Conclusion: Public health advice can reduce morbidity and mortality from windstorms. Findings from this review will provide material for increased awareness and education amongst the public and healthcare professionals to prevent and prepare for these health impacts. Nevertheless, more research is needed to identify more specific patterns of health impacts and how these could be reduced in the future.
- Health impacts
- Systematic literature review