Staying Safe: Six Precautions to Take After a Natural Disaster

November 1, 2012  |  Mesothelioma

Hurricane Sandy Hits New JerseyIn the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many brave families are beginning to take the initial steps to clear out, clean up and rebuild the places they call home.  In some areas, rescue and recovery are still underway.  With floodwaters reaching six to eight feet in some areas, it is imperative that those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy take several vital precautions in the days and weeks ahead. 

With flood waters still present, many power lines down and countless hazards in the streets, Baron and Budd would like to urge those on the east coast to follow federal guidelines and keep safe.  The public safety of our fellow Americans is of Baron and Budd’s utmost concern, so we would like to point out some key measures to take so that you and your loved ones stay safe.

Here are a few simple steps that can mean all the difference:

Carefully, carefully, carefully handle damage and debris.  Hurricane Sandy has caused structural damage to countless buildings. When handling debris, take extreme precaution, as it may contain asbestos.  When asbestos is exposed – often when an existing structure is damaged – people handling the debris are at risk of breathing in the asbestos fibers.  Inhalation of asbestos can place a person at risk for developing lung diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer.  A safety mask is advised.  Although the EPA has strict standards on how to handle materials containing asbestos, these standards are rarely enforced during states of emergency.  After previous floods, citizens have been exposed to mass amounts of asbestos before the materials were contained.

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization has posted some very helpful information about how to safely handle debris from damaged buildings.  To learn more, take a look at ADAO’s blog, “EPA: Natural Disasters and Weather Emergencies – Dealing with Debris and Damaged Buildings,”  by visiting here.

Be careful when re-entering a flooded home.  A home that has just been flooded can possess numerous unseen hazards.    In addition to physical dangers such as unstable objects and the weakened foundation of the your home, any damage to the structure of your home can be extremely dangerous.  Before entering the house, turn off the electricity.  This will reduce the risk of electrically charged floodwater. If possible, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggests contacting an electrician before going back into the home.

Try to avoid standing water.  Standing water can be potentially dangerous with so many power lines down.  The water can hold an electric charge and can cause great injury.  Standing water can also contain gasoline, oil or sewage and possess the risk of being a health hazard. 

Avoid moving water, no matter how shallow.  According to FEMA, even as little as six inches of water can make a person fall.  If possible, try to stay on firm ground as much as possible while moving around.  Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends using a stick to test your footing is water cannot be avoided.

Flood zones are still dangerous even after water recedes.  Floodwaters have the ability to compromise many seemingly safe structures.  Roads can erode or be weakened and support structures can collapse under the pressure of a car.  Use caution when navigating a flood area and try to follow well-traveled paths.

Avoid contaminated materials and other safety hazards.  Always make sure to use safety gloves and rubber boots to avoid broken glass, sharp metals and other safety hazards.  Also, sitting water must continuously boil for at least one minute before it is considered safe to drink.  Contaminants are at extremely high levels after a flood, so make sure that proper sanitation is used at all times.

During this time of rebuilding and recovery, Baron and Budd hopes that all who have been affected find safety and comfort during this troubling time.  For more information on how to keep you and your family safe, visit here.

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