Flood Hazards for First Responders
First Responders' Flood Risks
When a flood hits The Highlands, WA, a first responder is the hero of the day as he or she works to protect lives, property and the environment. It is important for these trained professionals to look after themselves as well, and this work comes with its own set of potential risks. Rather than put yourself or others at risk, follow these simple steps to stay safe.
Flood response has its own set of hazards. Prior to heading out to help others, take time to review personal safety procedures.
• Immunizations for Hepatitis B and tetanus must be up-to-date.
• Protective clothing should include chemical-resistant outer clothing, goggles, boots and plastic or rubber gloves.
• Layer latex gloves over puncture-resistant gloves and discard them after use.
After cleaning, don’t wear contaminated clothes in your personal vehicle. Remember to shower and change into uncontaminated clothes when your shift as a first responder ends. Wear a disposable N95 mask to protect yourself from inhaling mold. Clean wet surfaces with clean water and disinfectant. Properly vent portable generators and avoid the risk of electrocution.
Be aware of your surroundings, especially when working near traffic. Watch for sinkholes and areas where the terrain has sustained damage. Seek medical care if you are exposed to raw sewage or chemicals. Frequently wash your hands in soap and clean water or with alcohol-based gel, especially before meals and after handling potentially contaminated materials.
The major cause of loss of life in floods is being trapped in a vehicle. It takes only a foot of water to float many cars and trucks, and once the wheels are off the road, rolling, flipping, or colliding with anything downstream can happen quickly.
A first responder is a welcome sight to flood victims and is the person who will lead the way to recovery and damage remediation. Though staying dry may be impossible, staying safe doesn’t have to be.