How to quickly and safely recover from a hurricane

July 11, 2018


Jacksonville, FL, USA - September 11, 2017; Flood waters engulf a parking garage in downtown Jacksonville, FL after Hurricane Irma took an unexpected turn and caused massive power outages and coastal flooding around the state.

July is emergency month at Vanguard, and our goal is to help you prepare your facility for any and all emergencies that may come your way.

 

Hurricanes can be destructive, not only for what damage they can do during the storm, but for all the dangers that linger for weeks, even months afterward, as witnessed last year after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. This week we look at how to get your facility up and running after a hurricane, while keeping your employees safe.

 

Power

Facility managers need to plan in advance of a hurricane so you can power key areas during recovery until public utility power returns. Have updated drawings and records of mechanical and electrical systems, so you’ll know how to supply temporary power.

 

IMPORTANT

Generator exhaust, made up of carbon monoxide, is toxic as it can build up quickly, and linger for hours. Always put generators outside and away from doors, windows, and vents and never use a generator inside. Carbon monoxide is deadly.

 

Drinking water

Your facility’s drinking water may be compromised from a hurricane, and you should assume that this is the case until you can have an expert come out and test your water. In the meantime, if safe to return to work, employees should only drink bottled water. You should have a 3-day supply of bottled drinking water stored in preparation for an emergency. Should you need to disinfect and detoxify your tap water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers these tips.

 

Spills

If you encounter spills or discharges in the aftermath of a hurricane contact the National Response Center immediately. You or your organization may have legal requirements for reporting or for taking other actions depending on the spill. You can contact the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.

 

Avoid flood water

According to the EPA, you should “limit contact with flood water. Flood water may have high levels of raw sewage or other hazardous substances. Early symptoms from exposure to contaminated flood water may include upset stomach, intestinal problems, headache and other flu-like discomfort. Anyone experiencing these and any other problems should immediately seek medical attention.”

 

Mold

Mold can cause serious health problems and should be prevented and removed as quickly as possible after a hurricane. The key to mold control is moisture control. Remove any standing water and be hypervigilant about drying indoor areas. Remove and discard anything that has been wet for more than 24-48 hours.

 

Mosquitos

Mosquitos thrive after hurricanes. Make sure your outdoor workers use insect repellent. Repellents should contain DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Look for EPA approval on the bottle or container. Apply repellent to both exposed skin and clothing.

 

Report dead birds

Certain species of birds are very susceptible to West Nile virus. By reporting dead birds to your local health authority, you may help prevent the spread of this dangerous mosquito-borne disease.

 

Once you’ve got power, clean water, and mold under control, you should be ready to get back to business.

 

For more information on preparing for and recovering from a disaster, contact Vanguard Resources.