The old saying “one disaster after another” shouldn’t apply in Oklahoma if everyone will follow a few simple steps in cleaning up after the recent tornadoes.
“Oklahomans should take safety precautions before they begin cleaning up after the storm,” said Scott Sproat, chief of the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Service. “Be sure that you have a current tetanus shot and that you wear boots or substantial shoes and heavy gloves to protect hands and feet from injury while picking through debris. You should also understand how to use a generator properly, and if you use a chain saw, you should wear appropriate protection and follow basic safety rules. There is no need for this to be worse than it already is because of accidental injury.”
Anyone in need of a tetanus shot should contact their local county health department or their personal physician. In some areas hit hard by yesterday’s storms, mobile health department trailers have been dispatched to provide tetanus shots and basic first aid. Tetanus shots are recommended for anyone who hasn’t had a tetanus booster within the last ten years.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a concern as residents without power use generators near homes. Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
Generators should be a sufficient distance from a home and anyone feeling dizzy around a generator should immediately get outside to fresh air. In addition, never connect the generator directly to the home’s electrical system due to the potential of backfeed electricity harming crews trying to restore power.
If you must use a chain saw, follow the instructions to be safe. Wear a hard hat, safety glasses, ear plugs, thick work gloves, chaps, and boots. Always hold the saw at waist level or below, and make sure that others remain far away. Take extra care in cutting “spring poles” – trees or branches that are bent, twisted, hung up on, or caught under another object during a high wind.
For more storm recovery information, visit the Coping After The Storm section of the Oklahoma State Department of Health website at www.health.ok.gov.