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Ensuring Health and Safety after a Tornado
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
If you are able to survive a tornado devastating your community, then the last thing you want is to make a mistake in the hours and days following a tornado that ends up endangering your health or life. As much as 50% of tornado-related injuries take place after the twister has blown itself out, usually the result of rescue attempts, cleanup, and other activities. Exposed nails are one of the main culprits, ripped up from damaged structures and ready to be stepped on by unsuspecting workers.
In the immediate aftermath of a twister, check for injured family or neighbors and do not attempt to move any seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger. Seek medical assistance and be prepared to render whatever aid you can since medical staff may be stretched thin following a disaster like this. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location by banging on pipes or anything that will make a noise.
Stay tuned to local news and weather broadcasts. The hours following a tornado are likely to continue to see unstable and rapidly changing weather conditions. Local news stations will also be able to direct people to emergency shelters and medical facilities.
Use extreme caution if you must enter any structure that has been damaged. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, heavy duty boots, and work gloves, and be aware of the dangers posed by exposed nails and broken glass. Use lanterns and flashlights to light darkened areas as opposed to candles since candles present the greater fire risk.
Refrain from using generators, grills, camp stoves, or other items powered by gas or propane inside your home. They produce deadly carbon monoxide that could prove fatal in an enclosed space.
Stay off the telephone except to report an emergency. Phone lines are often overloaded following severe weather events. Don't contribute to the problem if you can avoid it. Also, cooperate fully with all public safety officials. They will be depending on the public to help make their jobs a little easier.
During cleanup, be aware of proper safety procedures when using any gas-powered or electric saws or other tools. Clean up any spilled medicines, drugs, flammable liquids or other hazardous materials.
Above all else, safety is the key word. By being aware of your surroundings, staying up to date on the weather, and taking slow, cautious steps toward recovery, the aftermath of a tornado event may not be so hazardous to you and your family.
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