Off-the-Job Safety: Tips for Residents in Flood Areas

June 17, 2008
As residents in the Midwest begin their cleanup efforts following days of severe flooding, the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) offers health and safety tips for residents returning to their homes and businesses.

"RIA members are in a unique position to provide expertise on restoration under these circumstances," says RIA President Rusty Amarante, "but our primary concern is the safety of the individuals returning to their homes and businesses. There are many unseen hazards and we want to protect them from further injury."

According to RIA, residents returning to flooded areas should enter premises only during daylight hours and avoid using candles or gas lanterns. Children, pregnant women and people with health problems should avoid the flooded area until cleanup is complete.

RIA also offered the following tips:

  • Wear sturdy rubber gloves and boots.
  • Watch for sharp objects and contaminated materials in deep waters.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and rest frequently to avoid overheating and exertion.
  • Wash hands and face frequently using an anti-microbial soap and keep fingers away from eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Have a first-aid kit handy, and treat cuts and abrasions immediately with an antibiotic ointment.
  • Confirm that the water is clean and safe. If there is a boil-water advisory, boil water for washing for at least one minute or add 1 teaspoon of household bleach per gallon of water and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Leave the house immediately if there is an odor of gas or any suggestion of instability in the structure. Notify authorities and wait for an authorized inspection before re-entering.
  • If the power is off, turn the main electrical breaker off and tape it down to prevent it from accidentally turning on when the power is restored.
  • If you have oil or propane, turn off the fuel valve at the tank. Turn off natural gas at the meter.
  • Do not attempt to vacuum water with anything other than a vacuum specifically designed for wet pickup.
  • Treat all water-impacted surfaces and furnishings as if contaminated and toxic.
  • Do call an experienced restoration firm for professional emergency and clean up services.

For more information or to locate a restoration professional in your area, visit the RIA website at

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