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Safety Tips for Water Damage Flood Restoration Volunteers

Aug 6, 2008
Flooding presents a series of potential hazards. When people decide to volunteer to help in a Water Damage flood ravaged city they face the possibility of encountering several unpleasant and dangerous issues that are brought about by the flooding. The water purification and sewage systems in the affected area are likely to be disrupted, leaving no clean water to drink or a way to flush bodily waste. The flood water will contain filth from the sewage system. Flood waters will mix with toxins from overflowing toxic waste sites and with chemicals that were stored in barrels above ground. Volunteers helping to cleanup a flood ravaged area can be exposed to these problems resulting in serious illness or chemical poisoning. Volunteers should also be careful to avoid areas near downed electrical lines because these present a possible fire or electrocution hazard.

Anyone who works near or with flood waters should be aware that the water will contain bacteria such as shigella, E. coli, salmonella, hepatitis A virus, agents of typhoid, paratyphoid, and tetanus. Even though these sicknesses are caused by different pathogens they have similar symptoms when they take hold in a person's body. Fever, muscle aches, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea are signs that you are coming down with one of these waterborne diseases. These diseases are brought on by eating contaminated food or drinking dirty water. Tetanus is an infectious disease that is gotten by exposure of contaminated flood water to an open cut or puncture wound. This can be quite serious or even fatal. For this reason it is imperative that anyone who volunteers to clean up after a flood has gotten a current tetanus vaccination.

Flood water is often contaminated with hazardous waste and pesticides or industrial chemicals. These can poison the volunteers that come into contact with the water polluted by thewater damage. Some of the symptoms of chemical poisoning include fatigue, weakness, headache, skin rashes dizziness, excitability, and nausea. Be especially aware of the possibility of getting chemical poisoning if you are doing clean up near an industrial site. Always wear protective clothing, rubber gloves, boots, goggles, and respirator when working around flood waters. Be even more vigilant about these precautions when working near an industrial site.

Remember that standing water will breed insects, especially mosquitoes. Mosquitoes raise the risk of infecting people with West Nile, encephalitis, or malaria. Stay away from wild animals and snakes as best as you can to avoid being bitten. If any of these things do happen seek medical help immediately.

There are some things you can do to lessen the risk being infected with these unwanted problems. Wash hands with soap and clean water often. Don't drink any water that isn't bottled or disinfected. Do not eat any food that has been in contact with the polluted water. Be sure you have a current tetanus shot. Wear protective clothing and insect repellent. Be especially careful to avoid contamination from chemical if you are anywhere near an industrial site or hazardous waste dump site.
About the Author
Jacklyn Hartfield can be counted on for her insight on water damage contractors since she has been one for the past 5 years. Her specialty is water damage restoration.
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