Flood Safety Tips for First Responders
First Responder Flood Safety Tips
A first responder is a lifesaving individual that helps the public during a crisis. When a disaster strikes, these people often risk their own safety to rescue others.
During a flood in Santa Barbara, CA, emergency response crews will be dispatched to locate missing people and rescue those who have been stranded. After the initial threat has passed, some may also volunteer to clean up debris and repair homes. Working in floodwater can be dangerous, so all responders should consider the following safety tips.
1. Know How Floods Occur
Flooding typically happens when heavy rainfall or melting snow leads to excess water accumulation. Communities near rivers or creeks are at the highest risk for flood-related disasters.
Flooding can happen gradually or rapidly. Gradual flooding, although still challenging, is the most preferable since it allows citizens time to prepare and evacuate. Rapid flooding, also known as flash flooding, is more difficult to navigate. When water levels rise quickly, people often find themselves unprepared.
2. Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations
During a rescue or cleanup, a first responder may encounter rusty metal or be exposed to chemicals in the rising water. For these reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all responders stay up-to-date with their tetanus and Hepatitis B vaccines.
3. Wear Protective Clothing
Rescue crews and flood restoration specialists should wear protective gear. Waterproof clothing, boots, goggles and two layers of gloves are highly recommended. N95 masks can protect against mold or mildew.
4. Remain Alert for Other Hazards
Flood response is tricky for many reasons. For example, murky floodwater could engulf landmarks and make even a familiar environment feel disorienting. Downed electric lines might cause power disruptions. Uneven terrain and sinkholes can make wading impossible. By remaining alert and using tools such as maps, boats, drones, generators and radios, rescue crews can be better equipped to handle these challenges.
A first responder is a selfless individual who helps the community during a disaster. He or she can prepare for a flooding crisis by knowing how floods happen, staying current with vaccinations, wearing appropriate clothing and remaining alert.