Safety Tips for Flood Response, Cleanup and Recovery

For those involved in cleanup activities or those working in businesses impacted by local flooding, it’s important to follow safety measures to avoid serious injury or death. A full list of OSHA’s hazards and protective measures can be found here, but here are a few brief safety tips to keep in mind:

Driving during flood conditions 

  • Be cautious of unknown road conditions. Nearly half of flood fatalities are vehicle related. 
  • Do not try to cross flooded roadways, especially if you are unsure of the depth of the water. 
  • If the water level is rising around your vehicle, abandon the vehicle.

Contaminated floodwaters 

  • Assume all floodwater is contaminated unless proven otherwise. 
  • Ventilate enclosed spaces with fresh air. 
  • Allow only trained workers with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to clean up toxic chemicals, other hazardous waste, mold and asbestos. 
  • Use waterproof boots, latex or rubber gloves and other protective equipment. Consider using special chemical-resistant clothing, protective goggles and a disposable respirator. 
  • Keep an adequate supply of clean water available for drinking and washing. 
  • Dangerous wildlife, such as snakes, may be present in floodwaters. DO NOT approach or feed animals; contact the Parks and Wildlife Department.

Downed power lines 

  • Assume all power lines are live or energized unless proven otherwise. 
  • Establish and clearly mark a danger zone around downed lines. 
  • Stay at least 10 feet from all downed lines. 
  • Allow only trained and equipped workers to repair electrical lines.

Debris removal 

  • Discard water-damaged and visibly contaminated materials. 
  • Establish and clearly mark a danger zone around debris and where tree debris may fall. 
  • Allow only trained workers with proper PPE such as work gloves, a hard hat, work boots, hearing protection and eye/face protection to clean up debris. 
  • Use mechanical equipment to lift heavy objects. 
  • Ensure debris removal workers are up-to-date with tetanus vaccination.

Slips, trips and falls 

  • Use safety procedures to prevent aerial lift tip-overs. 
  • Utilize fall protection. 
  • Use proper ladder safety. 
  • Be aware of wet or slippery surfaces, obstacles or uneven surfaces.

For more tips and information, visit Accident Fund’s Severe Weather Safety page or click one of the links below: 


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