EMERGENCY RESPONSE RESOURCES

hurricane swaying palm trees, flooding with road closed sign, firefighter equipment

Storm, Flood, and Hurricane Response

CDC/NIOSH Hurricane Key Messages

During emergencies the use of key messages aiming to provide guidance in the protection of the health and safety of emergency response and recovery workers is a priority. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and health (NIOSH) has created a document communicating key messages associated to the multiple hazards related to storms, floods and hurricanes. The document is available for employers, emergency response and recovery workers, and volunteers. The key messages document covers topics such as carbon monoxide, tree removal, chemical safety, electrocution hazards, fall prevention, heat stress, mold, vehicle safety, violence, workers-on foot hazards, livestock and poultry wastewater and sludge work, Stress, and emergency responder health monitoring and surveillance, among others.

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Storm, flood and hurricane events involve the presence of powerful winds, heavy rainfall, rip currents, and landslides, among others. Therefore cleanup and recovery activities can be hazardous and can lead to injury or even death. Emergency response and recovery workers and volunteers involved in flood, hurricane, and storm related cleanup activities should be aware of the potential dangers involved, and take proper safety precautions. Work-related hazards that could be encountered include but are not limited to physical, chemical, ergonomic, radiological and biological hazards. This topic page aims to provide information for employers and emergency response and recovery workers to prepare for storm, flood and hurricane events, and provide recommendations to act safely and protect themselves during and after the emergency.

The following information is intended to help employers and workers prepare in advance for anticipated response activities, and to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in the field once rescue, recovery, and clean-up activities begin.

Disaster Site Management

Management of activities before, during and after an emergency is a difficult task. Different components must be considered to account for all the potential hazards that can be faced. The preparation of a comprehensive plan is vital to ensure the correct management of resources, consecution of activities and protection of responders. During the elaboration of a disaster management plan, potential hazards can be identified which helps to establish the necessary measures to prevent, control and mitigate those hazards. Such measures can include but are not limited to the establishment of a system to manage personnel during an emergency, provide training to face a particular hazard, define the use of personal protective equipment, and install guidelines and mechanisms to be used in case of an emergency, among others.

Hazards

Storms, floods and hurricanes are associated to multiple hazards that represent a risk for emergency responders and recovery workers. During cleanup activities hazards may include physical, chemical and biological hazards. Some common hazards during and storms, floods and hurricanes may include air pollutants, electrical hazards, extreme temperatures, falls, fire, carbon monoxide, and injury among others. This section offers resources to inform workers how to protect themselves from multiple hazards.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a main source of protection for emergency and recovery workers. Depending on the type of emergency which may include flooding, hurricanes, fire, electricity, structural collapse, falls, terrorism, earthquakes, tornadoes, extreme temperatures, diseases, among others. It is necessary to protect emergency response and recovery workers from physical, chemical and biological hazards. Routes of exposure include inhalation, dermal contact, ingestion or contact through mucous membranes. Therefore, main protective equipment includes respirators, eye protection, hearing protection and protective clothing. Depending on the hazard, the recommendations on the use of PPE change. Some examples of PPE may include Gas masks, gloves, overalls, boots, and goggles.

Additional Information

Page last reviewed: February 15, 2019