• By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Hurricane safety: Avoiding injuries after the storm

September 6, 2019
a man cleaning up storm debris with wheelbarrow

Although Hurricane Dorian is still affecting parts of the East Coast, many are beginning to assess damage and clean up after the storm. And this is the time when emergency departments see an uptick in patients with injuries, so it is important to remain vigilant, says Dr. Michael Boniface, a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician.

"Floodwaters and standing water are the biggest contributors to injury, illness and death following a storm," says Dr. Boniface. "There is a lot of additional water, and it's important to avoid floodwaters and any standing water." Aside from a risk of drowning, Dr. Boniface says it's often hard to see what's beneath the surface.

"Many of the injuries we see spike are those related to storm cleanup and exploration after the storm, including lacerations, puncture wounds, falls and chainsaw injuries," says Dr. Boniface. 

Dr. Boniface recommends avoiding do-it-yourself projects, unless you're skilled with the equipment. Also, he advises wearing a long-sleeved shirt; long pants or jeans; hard soled, closed-toe shoes or boots; thick gloves; and insect repellent.

"You're going to be exposed to a lot of mosquitoes and other insects that are going to be equally displaced by the storm," says Dr. Boniface.

Finally, stay hydrated. Drinking enough fluids, especially water, can prevent dehydration and heat illness while doing the strenuous work involved in hurricane recovery.

"If you're going to be working in the yard, sweating, losing more water, you need to drink additional quantities of water," says Dr. Boniface.

Mayo Clinic has more information on hurricane health and safety preparedness, and storm cleanup tips.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video and sound from Dr. Boniface is in the downloads.

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