Flood Safety Tips for Emergency Workers
Flood Safety Tips
We’re heading into tropical storm season, and the likelihood of flooding and water damage is increasing. As a first responder, how should you prepare yourself to help others? Below are some tips to help you navigate your own safety before, during, and after a disaster.
1. Before the Emergency
The right vaccines are your first line of defense. If you haven’t had a tetanus booster or hepatitis B series in the last 10 years, now is the time to get current on your shots. These vaccines are required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all disaster recovery workers. Before you’re called to the next neighborhood emergency cleanup, confirm that you’re up to date on these immunizations. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself, and the health of others, at risk.
2. During the Event
Most emergencies require personal protection equipment (PPE) for a first responder, especially floods. You need protection from the debris and unknown substances that floodwater carries. If you must enter the water, cover any open wounds with waterproof bandages. Wear gloves, goggles, and rubber boots; add waterproof pants or overalls and a jacket if possible. Pay attention to weather conditions so that you don’t become overheated or too cold. Avoid ingesting any kind of floodwater.
3. After the Disaster
After the flood response, you must decontaminate your PPE, clothing, and body. Disinfect equipment with a cleaner that contains bleach and dry thoroughly. Wash your clothing in hot water and detergent, and separate these items from your regular laundry. Then wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Finally, remove any bandages, inspect wounds, and shower as normal.
If the disaster has been stressful or traumatic, seeking mental health care is vital to your well-being. The ability to continue your work depends on your coping skills and stress management. You will best help others when you’re thinking clearly and feeling emotionally sound.
Working as a first responder in Yelm, WA is challenging and rewarding. With the right preparation, you’ll be able to help those affected in their most dire circumstances.