Those working in flood recovery need to be taking appropriate safety precautions.
“People want to make sure that they stay a safe distance from downed and damaged power lines,” said Bonita Winingham with OSHA’s Kansas City office. “When they’re operating generators, they should use them outdoors, to prevent an exposure to carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless gas.”
If you’re actually exposed to floodwater, you need to take further action.
“They can be exposed to chemical and biological hazards,” said Winingham. “They should definitely wash their hands with clean water and wear protective clothing, goggles, gloves and boots as they perform the cleanup.”
For more information, you can go to the Flood Preparedness response page at osha.gov. There are also additional resources available online.
“As they clean up, if they need additional assistance, there’s a free service, they can visit that on OSHA’s website, as well, it’s the on-site consultation program,” said Winingham. “In addition, if anyone sees something that is unsafe that they feel needs to be reported to us, they can report that at (816) 283-8745, or if they have questions on safe flood recovery, they can call that number, as well.”
Floodwaters contain many things that may harm health. We don’t know exactly what is in floodwater at any given point in time, as it is dependent on what hazards that water has flowed through.