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Ensuring Health & Safety after a Flood
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Once a flood has occurred and the waters recede, there is always the temptation to think that the danger has passed. This is a mistake. Flood-related problems and threats continue long after the initial flood has come and gone. The decisions made and actions taken in the immediate aftermath of a flood may well determine to what extent you come out of this disaster unscathed.
Flood zones and flooded out structures can be dangerous places. For starters, you should be aware of any standing flood water. Depth is deceptive and if you try to walk across it you may find yourself in over your head. If there are downed power lines, avoid them, even if they appear to be inactive. Report all such cases to the nearest authorities.
Any flood damaged building should be considered a hard hat area, requiring proper safety attire before going in. Safety goggles, work gloves, and steel toes shoes are strongly recommended. A face mask or respirator is also recommended, as flooded out buildings will rapidly give rise to mold problems and the last thing you need is to inhale mold spores.
Make sure all electricity in the building is turned off and do not attempt to operate any electrical switches while standing in or around flood waters. If you donít know whether or not the power has been turned off, refrain from entering the building until shutoff can be verified.
Other Post-Flood Tips to Consider
Stay alert when working in these conditions. Accidents tend to happen when people get lazy or tired. Drink plenty of fluids (the bottled kind, for safety purposes).
Small animals, especially snakes, tend to get relocated into flooded buildings, so be cautious when reaching into small openings or under piled up objects.
Wash hands frequently during the process, especially if you have come into contact with moldy surfaces or possible sewage contamination. Mold and sewage can cause all kinds of health problems, so be sure you keep yourself clean and healthy in this decidedly unhealthy environment.
Avoid back injuries by not trying to lift anything heavier than 50 lbs without getting some assistance. Even lightweight items like carpet will become significantly heavier once they have been saturated by water.
If there are any unrecognizable odors in the building, contact your local health department for assistance before continuing work. Chemical odors are nothing to ignore.
If you do get a cut or puncture wound that is exposed to floodwater or dirt, see a doctor immediately and make sure your tetanus injections are all up to date. Be sure to warn others about any sharp or jagged object in order to avoid additional injuries.
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