GUIDANCE FOR EMERGENCY RESPONDERS IN U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND PUERTO RICO
What this is for: NIOSH recommends safety and health precautions for emergency responders and aid workers, addressing hazards that follow natural disasters, including the hurricanes and floods in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
How to use: Use this information to improve safety and reduce exposure risks during the emergency response in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
- You may face chemical physical and biological hazards in the aftermath of hurricanes and floods. Proper precautions in these affected areas can help you protect your health and safety as you work.
- Risks could include electrical hazards, carbon monoxide, physical injuries, heat stress, motor vehicle mishaps, hazardous materials, fire, confined spaces, and falls.
- You can check CDC Travel Health Notices, to learn about current health issues related to specific destinations including: disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.
- You should make a communications plan, that includes your organization’s emergency communication protocol and key phone numbers for professional and personal contacts you may need while on deployment. Also review company or organization policies and plans for working overseas, practice good hygiene, and provide for your personal needs—taking care to reduce stress during your deployment.
Before travel, check with your doctor or occupational medical team to find out whether you need to get vaccinations or take medicines before you leave. These sites provide information about pre-deployment screening and vaccination:
What to Pack:
Along with your normal clothing and personal care items, you may need other supplies and medications. You may have a hard time finding supplies and medicines at your destination. Medicines and supplies may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use. The resources below list items to pack as you prepare for travel.
You should also prepare for safety or health hazards you might face as you respond. Be sure to check whether you can get any protective equipment (like coveralls, steel-toed boots, gloves, hardhats) on site. If you can’t get these items there, you should pack them to take with you. The resources below can help you find out what protective equipment you will need as you work in areas hit by hurricanes or floods.
Responding to disasters can be both rewarding and stressful. Knowing that you have stress and coping with it as you respond helps you remain well, and this allows you to keep helping those who are affected. Check the resources below as you prepare for and deal with stress.
On Scene Hazards and Precautions
You should know the possible dangers and proper safety precautions for hurricane and flood cleanup. Below are resources to prepare for expected response activities, and to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in the field once rescue, recovery, and clean-up begin.
FEMA: Hurricane Maria (English and Spanish Resources)
- Page last reviewed: October 10, 2017
- Page last updated: October 10, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Office of the Director