Safety Tips for Cleanup in the Aftermath of Florence - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Safety Tips for Cleanup in the Aftermath of Florence

With dozens of reported human fatalities and hundreds of chickens and other animals also thought to have perished in the storm, cleanup in the aftermath of Florence poses a number of serious health and safety risks. Whether you are a resident returning to your home to clean up and repair storm damage or are on a volunteer cleanup crew, it is vital to understand the dangers that potentially await you. Professional HAZMAT teams are specially trained to deal with some of the situations you might face, so be aware of the dangers so that you can call in the pros before attempting tasks that could put you at extreme risk.

Safety Gear Is an Absolute Must

With flooding the most serious of issues confronting residents of North and South Carolina, the danger of toxic waste in those waters is high. The CDC advises that anything from sewage to decomposing organic matter may be in those waters and so you should not touch anything without adequate covering. This would include gloves, face masks and boots if you will be wading through flood waters. Also, if inspecting roofs and other high areas of a structure, you would want to look at fall prevention gear. However, it is vital to understand that when wearing such things as safety harnesses, they are not sized the same as apparel. Always refer to safety harness sizing charts to ensure a proper fit and adequate protection.

Safety Precautions with Downed Power Lines

The CDC also advises that you avoid coming into contact with downed power lines. Never assume that no power is running through lines up to the point where lines are downed and when using generators as a backup power source, avoid placing them in enclosed areas. Always check your carbon monoxide detector to ensure it is working and also check the batteries to see if they have enough charge to power the device. While it is understandable that you want to get the power up and running to operate any electric equipment needed for cleanup and repair, it is vital to consider potential safety hazards as well.

Mold Cleanup and Prevention

Any time water has been standing for any length of time, mold may result, causing a number of known health issues. Many neighborhoods have pumps running to drain water levels below foundations of homes in the area, but in their absence, it is vital to wait until the waters have receded enough to allow you to begin drying out your home. You can rent pumps, but with such widespread damage, it is unlikely there will be a sufficient supply. The main thing to keep in mind is that you must begin drying your property the moment the water is gone. Fans and dehumidifiers are your best options and a mixture of bleach and water can prevent mold and mildew.

Before attempting any repairs, it is recommended that you dry your home out as quickly as possible. You have approximately 24 to 48 hours before mold begins to grow and at that point, the air you breathe can be toxic as well. If you are unsure how to proceed, contact FEMA, the local Red Cross chapter or the CDC for tips on how to recover after a storm of this magnitude.

Remember, safety is your first priority so take the time to understand the dangers before jumping in head first to clean up and repair.


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