Hurricane Ida has caused devastation to Louisiana. As most are sifting through the damage and initiating the cleanup process, here are some safety tips to help with this process.
Tetanus shots: Everyone involved in cleanup efforts should consider Tetanus shots. You can check you immunization records or contact your Primary Care Physician to see if you are due for the Tetanus booster.
Generators: The use of generators for temporary power for the home and or tools during demolition is common. Please remember to give the generator the distance it needs away from the structure to avoid carbon monoxide build up. Also proper maintenance will reduce the chance of failure and/or incident. Remember to:
Check fluid levels before use
Refuel when the engine is shut down and cooled.
Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for operations and maintenance.
Have a battery operated carbon monoxide detector in your home
Health and Hygiene: As you will be dealing with contaminated water and surfaces that have contacted contaminated water remember the following:
Only drink water that is safe for consumption. Utilize bottled water until local authorities state that it is safe to do otherwise.
Only bathe or shower in water that has been boiled unless local officials state the utility water is safe for use.
Do not drink or use flood water for any purpose as it is contaminated.
Hydrate! As you work in the hot and muggy environment remember to keep hydrated for your safety. Wash hands and face before eating and drinking.
Disinfect surfaces with hot water and industrial disinfectant. See websites below for additional tips.
Use caution on surfaces when wet to avoid slips and trips
Wall material that becomes wet acts as a sponge, you should remove at least to the flood line. Also remove a small portion at the top to aid in air drying; this is called the “chimney effect”.
Insulation should be removed based upon the type, there may be alternative methods for cleaning. The websites below have additional tips.
Floor topping should be removed so the sub floor can dried and treated before reinstalling floor covering.
Like walls if contacted with flood water, remove.
This will need inspection and cleaning. Flood soaked insulation should be replaced.
Waste being generated during clean up should be placed a safe distance from access roads, and in a manner to prevent accident or injury when removing.
Try to segregate waste to make it easier for removal.
Anything that may have come into contact with contaminated flood waters should be disposed of.
Personal Protective Equipment
Gloves, utilize proper hand protection for the task at hand
Respiratory protection, as you start to remove carpets and walls, or start mechanical cutting protect yourself with a dust mask (N95) properly fitted. Other types of respiratory protection may be needed depending on task.
Foot protection, utilize proper foot protection such as rubber boots with steel toe when working in wet or muddy conditions.
Eye protection, utilize a good Safety glass or goggle for operations to protect your eyes from contaminated debris.
Remember you will be working with contaminated materials, clean PPE being re-used. Disposable equipment should be disposed as indicated by manufacturer.
Gas powered Equipment: The use of gas powered equipment such as chain saws, lawnmowers, loaders etc., should be used in accordance with manufactures recommendations. Utilize proper PPE, follow maintenance and inspection recommendations, and always shut down equipment before servicing.
Electrical Safety: Before engaging in work with electrical components, ensure that the power is off. Utilize tools such as meters and tick tracers to ensure no power is present to the device being worked upon. Avoid overloading plugs and/or generators. Inspect tools and equipment for damage before use. Follow manufactures recommendations for all tools and equipment. See the NFPA’s website below for additional tips.
Do not work with electricity if there is standing water!
Insects and Wildlife: As you engage in clean up, remember that insects and wildlife were affected by the flood waters as well.
Check under items before placing hands and feet to avoid unwanted contact with Creatures.
Utilize insect repellant to minimize mosquito bites, use something with DEET.
Prevent rodents by disposing of food and cleaning pots and pans with food residue.
Snakes, back away slowly to avoid contact. If you or someone is bitten, remember size, color and shape to report. Call 911 or take to hospital for immediate treatment.