HAZMAT team, disaster rescue, deep-rescue training

Safety After a Disaster

Tips for Disaster Situations

After a disaster, damage to property may cause unusual and additional safety hazards. Many disaster-related injuries and deaths occur because of injuries resulting from clean up in the aftermath of a disaster.

  • Wear sturdy shoes when entering buildings or walking through debris.
  • Carry a flashlight when walking into buildings.
  • Do not enter a building if the foundation has shifted or has been weekend.
  • Do not demolish a building or house without professional help.
  • Buildings should be declared safe before you can enter.
  • If you smell gas, open all windows and doors, evacuate and call the gas company from an outside line.
  • Do not use the heating equipment if you suspect damage until it has been checked out by a qualified service representative.
  • Never use wet electrical appliances.
  • Do not touch exposed cable or wires.
  • Report all unusual waste (animal carcasses, asbestos etc.) to the proper authorities.
  • Do not allow children to wade or play in contaminated water or sand.

Safe Drinking Water

In a disaster, such as a flood, water may be contaminated when sewage systems are damaged or there are breaks in the sewer lines.

To decontaminate water by boiling:

  1. Fill a large pot with water after straining the water through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove particles.
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil for 3 minutes.
  3. Allow to cool and pour into a disinfected container.

To decontaminate water with bleach:

  1. Strain water through a coffee filter.
  2. Pour 1/8 of a teaspoon of unscented household chlorine bleach into a gallon of water.
  3. Let stand at least 30 minutes before drinking.

*If the water is still cloudy after 30 minutes add an additional 1/8 teaspoon and wait an additional 30 minutes. If the water is still cloudy, do not drink the water.

Caution: Excessive amounts of bleach can be poisonous - follow the directions exactly

Food Safety

  1. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.
  2. Avoid the danger zone with food - keep it under 40 degrees or above 140 degrees.
  3. Always use a clean platter to serve food - do not put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
  4. Use a separate cutting board for poultry/meat.
  5. Use or freeze raw poultry and ground meat in one or two days.
  6. Other meats can be stored for four to five days.
  7. Separate raw poultry and meat from other foods to avoid cross contamination - this includes at the grocery store, in the refrigerator, during preparation, on cutting boards and serving platters.
  8. Never put a marinade used on raw foods on cooked foods unless it has been brought to a boil first.
  9. Always wash your hands for 20 seconds before handling any food and after handling meat or poultry.
  10. Never thaw food at room temperature - always thaw food in the refrigerator or in the microwave (only if it is going to be cooked immediately).
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