Protect Yourself During Cleanup

Posted: 4:15 p.m.

People in the areas affected by the recent severe weather will continue to face a number of hazards associated with cleanup activities. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) offers the following safety tips:

 Wear Protective Gear

  • For most cleanup work, wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank).
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.

Reduce Risk of Heat Exhaustion

While cleaning up after a severe storm during excessive heat, you are at risk for developing health problems. To reduce heat-related risks:

  • Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Work during the cooler hours of the day.

 Prevent Muscle and Bone Injury

Special attention is needed to avoid back injuries associated with manual lifting and handling of debris and building materials. To help prevent muscle and bone injury:

  • Use teams of two or more to move bulky objects.
  • Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds.
  • Use proper automated-assist lifting devices.
  • Use caution or seek professional assistance when removing fallen trees, cleaning up debris or using equipment, such as chain saws. 

Avoid Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is poisonous to breathe. During storm cleanup, operate gasoline-powered generators and outdoors.  Never bring them indoors.

Prevent Fatigue-Related Injuries

Continued long hours of work combined with exhaustion can create a highly stressful situation during cleanup. People working on storm cleanup can reduce their risk of injury and illness in several ways:

  • Set priorities for cleanup tasks and pace the work.
  • Avoid physical exhaustion.
  • Resume a normal sleep schedule as quickly as possible.
  • Be alert to emotional exhaustion or strain.
  • Consult family members, friends or professionals for emotional support.

  Mosquito-borne Disease Prevention

  • Protect against mosquito bites by wearing long, loose and light-colored clothing. 
  • Use insect repellant with the smallest percentage of DEET necessary for the length of time you are exposed to mosquitoes, but no more than 50 percent for adults and 30 percent for children under 12. 
  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as toys, plant trays and buckets.

Additional cleanup safety tips: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/recover/cleanup.htm

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Official emergency information about preparedness, response and recovery from Fairfax County Government.
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