Home hazards to avoid when doing storm cleanup
Cleaning up after a storm can have many health risks. You and your family should wait to re-enter your home until government officials tell you it is safe, with no structural, electrical, or other hazards. Touro Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christopher Lege, explains what home hazards to avoid when cleaning your home.
Hazards to look out for and avoid?
- Carbon Monoxide
- Wet electrical devices
- Any other dangerous looking devices or materials
What can you do to protect yourself from post hurricane cleanup?
It is very hot here in Louisiana, try to cleanup in the cooler hours of the day like early morning later in the afternoon. If not, make sure you bring plenty of water and take breaks in the shade if possible. Make sure you pace yourself; you should not be lifting anything over 50lbs without more hands to help or a team of people.
Wear protective clothing, rubber gloves, use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris, and maintain a physical distance of at least six feet while working with someone else.
If you smell gas or suspect a leak, leave your house/building and contact emergency authorities right away! Don’t turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that can cause a spark. It is never a good idea to use generators, pressure washers, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless gas from these sources that can cause sudden illness and death—can build up indoors and poison the people and animals inside.
There may be water damage inside of your home, open the doors to let your home breathe and dry out within 48-72 hours after. Thoroughly clean all wet items and surfaces with hot water and laundry or dish detergent. For example, you’ll want to clean any flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures. Anything leaking or any wet floors, drywall, etc., clean out as quickly as possible to prevent more mold growth.
Take precaution before using machinery like a chainsaw to cut trees or limbs, read the manual and make sure there is no one around you before operating.
People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled, even if they do not have an allergy to mold. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
What can you do to take care of yourself during storm cleanup?
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Take breaks in cool locations if possible.
- Wear a mask while cleaning debris to protect yourself from breathing in allergens and harmful materials.
- Monitor your stress levels. Lean on friends and family and ask for support when needed.
For information on Hurricane cleanup tips and what hazards to avoid, visit touro.com