Flood Responders Be Aware
Self-deployment is not considered a wise response to the natural disasters affecting our nation. Self-deployment often brings more challenges than helpful support. During Katrina when there were no motel accommodations for anyone available within hours, CEN would receive calls from well meaning Christians who wanted to know where they should go to make reservations in order to assist.
CEN encourages churches to become a CEN Ready Church before self-deploying. When a church is equipped they provide solutions not added problems to the incident. Even for the trained volunteer the flooding response requires wisdom. Before you let your heart rule your head go to www.christianemergencynetwork.org and download the suggestions found on CEN Ready Church in the drop down menu under Prepare Your Church.
In addition, Ben Curan, formerly the faith-based FEMA director under the Bush administration provided faith-based organizations responding to the flooding in the Southeast with the following information:
Floods and their aftermath can expose many threats to life and safety, depending on response and recovery efforts. Workers who respond to flooded areas are most at risk. Safety and health hazards can be expected in flood zone areas.
Some hazards associated with floods and cleanups are listed below:
· Airborne microorganisms; microbial growth (e.g. bacteria and fungi)
· Heat stress
· Slippery and unstable surfaces
· Fatigue or exhaustion from working long shifts
· Floodwater exposure; contaminated floodwaters
· Sharp or jagged debris
· Electrical hazards
· Contact with animal and human remains
· Air contaminants/Chemical exposures
Please contact your site safety and health official for area specific guidance.
· Seek immediate first aid treatment or medical evaluation for any injuries and illnesses.
· Report injuries or illnesses to your supervisor and site safety official.
· Do not walk through flowing or standing water.
· Do not drive through a flooded area.
· Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
· Watch for animals, especially snakes.
· Look before you step.
· Be alert for gas leaks.
· Get Immunizations and be sure that they are current, e.g., Tetanus.
· Use hand sanitizer. Wash hands with soap and clean water, preferably. When available, wash hands before work breaks, meal breaks and at the end of the work shift.
· Keep safe potable water close by for drinking and washing. Consider all water unsafe until local authorities announce that the public water supply is safe.
· Use insect repellant
· Use sunscreen
· Have watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank; slip resistant).
· Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. This may decrease the risk of mosquito and other insect bites.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2004). Floods. http://osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/floods.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Responders, http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/disease/responderimmun.asp
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hazard Based Guidelines: Protective Equipment for Workers in Hurricane Flood Response, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/pre-workers.html