Now that two hurricanes have passed the clean up is under way. There are some real hazards when cleaning up from a storm like a hurricane that if not followed can lead to injury and illness.
I always like to use risk management. Even after a storm, you can identify the potential hazards and ways to control them through a risk management process. There are a lot of different risk management processes out there and I recommend using the one you are most familiar with. The important thing is to use it.
The first thing you will want to do is obtain the protective clothing and equipment. If you will be working in water a good pair of hip or leg waders are necessary. Solid well fitting working gloves are also essential. If you are moving sharp items you will want to make sure your gloves will prevent cuts and scrapes. Protective eyewear and hard hats may also be needed. If you are not wearing a hard hat you should wear a hat to keep the sun off of your face, neck, and ears.
In addition to the protective clothing and equipment you should apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn and at times a bug repellent. It is important for you to keep yourself hydrated so a handy bottle of cool water is essential. I say cool because most of us don’t like to drink warm water and if you don’t like to drink it you probably won’t. This will put you at a higher risk for heat injuries.
You will need to make sure the area you are about to work in is safe. This includes checking for electrical shock hazards or leaking gas. It is also important to look for wildlife such as snakes and in some areas alligators and crocodiles. There may even be mammals with rabies. Skunks and racoons are commonly infected. They usually act aggressively when infected.
You will also want a first-aid kit and a way to contact emergency medical care for yourself or a colleague. Cuts, punctures, and scrapes may require a tetanus shot to prevent infection. After applying a band aid or bandage seek medical attention due to the unclean condition following a storm.
It is always best to work in teams so there is always someone to get help for an injured person. There are also other hurricanes in the Gulf and you will want to stay on top of their locations and hazards as well.