Safety Tips When Returning to Flooded Areas

Monday, August 15, 2016

By Richard Perkins, CSP, LWCC Safety & Loss Prevention Manager

With the recent heavy rains there are many residences and businesses that have flooded and have sustained major structural damage.

Once the flood threat is over and the water recedes, hazards may be present that will need to be minimized.

Here are some tips to assist you with staying safe during reentry into flood zones:

  • If a structure is still standing the integrity may be compromised. Resist the temptation to enter until the structure has been stabilized or evaluated.
  • Due to decaying organic matter and hot conditions mold will be present in debris piles and structures. Respiratory protection classified N-95 or higher, should be used to reduce your exposure.
  • You should wear head, eye and hand protection when working in or around structures in the flood zone.
  • Care should be taken when driving in an area that was flooded. Sink holes may be present as well as deep pools of water, which can inundate your vehicle.
  • Care should be taken when walking in a formerly flooded area. You could walk into a large sink hole and become trapped.
  • Never work alone! Working with a partner allows for someone to obtain assistance in case of an emergency.
  • Have emergency phone numbers with you for the area you are working in.
  • In addition to a cell phone you should have another form of communication when working in remote locations.
  • Leave a daily work plan with another person. This will allow a third party to request emergency help if you do not arrive home on time.
  • Be prepared to combat mosquitoes and fire ants when working.
  • Ensure you have an up-to-date tetanus shot. This will reduce the potential for a serious infection should you receive a puncture wound.
  • Have a well-stocked first aid kit available.
  • Bring any medications you are taking to the work site.
  • Be aware of wildlife reentering the flood zone. Snakes and large predators will be moving back to their homes as well.
  • Debris piles will be a haven for snakes and spiders. Use extreme caution when working around debris piles.
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain hydration.
  • Work at a slow pace and take frequent breaks to reduce fatigue.
  • Get plenty of rest at night.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. Report damaged power lines to your utility provider.
  • If you are using a generator use the generator outside in the open air.
  • Never run the generator in the back of a pickup truck if you have flammable materials in the truck.

By following these basic tips you can accomplish a quicker recovery and reduce your exposure to the potential hazards you may encounter.