Flood cleanup health and safety tips
RENO, NV – The Washoe County Health District is reminding people to take health and safety precautions while preparing for and cleaning up after floods.
“Residents and volunteers have been busy sandbagging and making preparations for flooding, now that cleanup is beginning people are tired and may not be thinking about the importance of taking care of themselves during cleanup,” said Kitty Jung, Washoe County District Board of Health Chair Kitty Jung. “It’s important for everyone to take some precautionary measures in order to avoid injuries and illnesses as the flood fight continues.”
The Health District offers the following tips:
• When sandbagging or removing sandbags, make sure to take breaks on a regular basis. Over-exertion can lead to health emergencies, including heart attacks. Also, temperatures are expected to drop later this week. Layering your clothing is important to keep your body temperature constant and avoid both overheating and hypothermia.
• Avoid back injuries; use the following safe-lifting techniques:
Stand close to the load and center yourself over it with your feet shoulder width apart.
Tighten your abdominal muscles.
Keeping your back straight, bend your knees and squat down to the ground or floor.
Get a good grasp on the load with both hands.
Keeping the load close to your body, use your leg muscles to stand up lifting the load off the ground or floor.
Your back should remain straight throughout lifting, using only the muscles in the legs to lift the load.
Do not twist your body when moving the load. Instead take small steps with your feet turning until you are in the correct position.
• Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration even in cold temperatures. With current cool temperatures, you may not feel thirsty, but it’s important to drink something regularly. Water is the best choice.
• If you are injured, wash the wound with soapy water and seek medical care if needed. Make sure your tetanus vaccination is up to date (within 10 years).
• Wash your hands before you eat and drink, or use a hand sanitizer.
• Always wear protective clothing and take precautions when cleaning up areas previously flooded. Water and mud most probably contain sewage, chemicals, hazardous waste and other contaminants that can cause serious illness. Basements, cellars and garages that may have had mice and other small critters may contain mice droppings, nests or dead vermin. So hantavirus and giardia may be present in those cleanup areas.
• Never use an electric generator, or other gas-powered equipment or tools indoors because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Always wear lifejackets when using watercrafts for flood-related work.
• As families and friends are busy with flood-related activities, it is important that children are properly supervised in a safe area.
The Health District has more flood-related Health and Safety information available on the web at www.washoecounty.us/health.