10 Most likely Hazards After a Flood

  1. Electrical and Gas Hazards

  • Take caution and treat all electrical lines, wires, equipment and fixtures as if they are energized until proven otherwise.
  • Immediately evacuate buildings if a gas leak or odor is detected, and notify the site supervisor or competent person.

  1. Motor Vehicles

  • Monitor local road conditions and obey closure signs. Don’t drive though flowing water. Six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and two feet of water will carry most cars away.
  • Standing water may not carry you away, but you may not be able to tell how deep it is. Unless you know how deep it is, it’s best to not drive through standing water.
  • Be aware of seen and unseen road hazards such as building debris, tree limbs, and pot holes. Also floods bring mud and roads can become very slick.

  1. Respiratory Hazards

  • Gasoline, propane and diesel-powered equipment (such as portable generators, power washers, compressors and pumps) should only be operated in well-ventilated outdoor areas to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
  • Stay upwind of or away from dust-generating activities, in particular involving crystalline silica-containing materials like concrete, brick, tile, drywall, mortar, sand, or stone.
  • Identify building materials such as painted surfaces and pipes that may contain lead.
  • If an area is known or suspected to contain asbestos, ensure that an assessment has been done by a competent individual before entering the area; if asbestos is present, wait until it is removed or contained.
  • Notify the supervisor immediately if asbestos is identified at the site and stop work until it has been removed or contained.
  • Refrain from entering areas with extensive mold buildup.

  1. Chemical Use/Exposure

  • Be aware of your surroundings. If there is evidence (sight or smell) of chemicals or their use, avoid that area and request an Industrial Hygienist accompany you.

  1. Sharp, jagged debris

  • Tree limbs.
  • Construction or demolition debris.
  • Broken glass.
  • Animal bites, both stray pets and wild animals.

  1. Roofing and Working from Heights

  • Ensure the use of fall protection systems: guardrails, safety nets or fall arrest systems.
  • Identify areas of structural weakness.
  • Identify ladder hazards and ensure their safe use.

  1. Power Tools

  • Ensure guarding on power tools is in good working order and always used.
  • Inspect all extension cords, remove from service those that are damaged, cut or have exposed wiring and inner insulation.
  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) or double-insulated power tools that are approved by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.

  1. Flood Waters (Drowning/Walking)

  • Same as with driving, six inches of moving water may cause you to lose your footing and two feet of water will carry you away. Stay out of moving water.
  • Even standing water can present similar hazards. The water most likely will not be clear; therefore you won’t see how deep even a small puddle is. Avoid walking in standing water unless you know it is safe to do so.
  • Be aware of seen and unseen hazards such as building debris, tree limbs, and pot holes. Also floods bring mud and walkways can become very slick.

  1. Noise

  • Ensure the use of hearing protection when noise levels exceed 85 decibels. Generally, if you cannot hold a normal conversation at arm’s length due to noise, then hearing protection should be worn.

  1.  Personal Decontamination

  • Always wash hands with soap and water before eating, drinking, smoking, applying lip balm or cosmetics to prevent contamination of the mouth, nose or eyes with hazardous materials or infectious agents. Use a waterless alcohol-based hand cleaner if water is not available.
  • Decontaminate raingear and rubber boots that have been exposed to potentially hazardous materials.

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