Disaster cleanup presents its own unique set of hazards. These tips can help keep you, your family and coworkers safe as you begin to put your home or business back in order:
Look before you step. The ground and
floors could be covered with debris, including broken bottles and
nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very
slippery. When working in debris-strewn areas, be alert for shifting
materials, holes and live electrical wires.
Avoid walking through flowing water.
Drowning is the No. 1 cause of flood deaths, with most of these
drownings occurring during flash floods. Six inches of moving water can
knock you off your feet. Use a pole or stick to test the firmness of
the ground before you walk through areas where the water has
Do not drive through a flooded area.
More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. If you are
driving and come upon rapidly rising waters, turn around and find
another route. Don't drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may
be washed out. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out
immediately and climb to higher ground.
Stay away from power lines and electrical
wires. Report downed power lines to your utility
Turn off your electricitywhen you
return to your home or business. Some appliances, such as
television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged.
Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have
been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
Watch for animals, especially snakes.
Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek
shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and
scare away small animals.
Work safe and smart. Prevent back
injury by paying special attention when handling debris, building
materials or other heavy objects. Work in teams when lifting bulky
objects that weigh more than 50 pounds. Rest frequently and drink a
glass of fluid every 15-20 minutes while you are working so you do not
Be aware of the risk of chain saw
injuryduring tree removal. If using a chain saw to
clear debris, make sure you
do so safely.
Be alert for gas leaks. Use a
flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns
or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and
the area has been aired out. Carbon monoxide exhaust kills. Use a
generator or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. The same goes for
camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly -- cook with
charcoal only outdoors.
Clean everything that got wet.
Floodwaters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads,
farms, factories and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics
and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw it out.
Take good care of yourself. Recovering is a big job. It is tough on both the body and the spirit. The effects this disaster is having on you and your family may last a long time.