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After the winds and rain of a hurricane finally end, new dangers can emerge. Specifically, injuries related to storm cleanup and recovery.
Following big storms like Hurricane Ian, emergency departments often see an uptick in the number of people with storm-related injuries as a result of cleanup. Dr. Brittany Beel, a Mayo Clinic emergency medicine physician, has some important reminders about staying safe while rebuilding.
"The top injuries we see after a storm are related to cleanup, from people falling off ladders and getting injured while clearing debris to chainsaw injuries as people try to remove trees that have fallen down," says Dr. Beel. "If it's not something you don't do normally, don't do it."
If you must start the cleanup, she recommends wearing goggles or safety glasses to limit getting debris in the eyes. Also, wear appropriate clothes and shoes, such as long-sleeved shirts, gloves, and rugged, closed-toe shoes. And don't forget the bug spray.
Stay away from rising water or any flood water. While standing water can be a magnet for mosquitos, all water after a storm can pose potential health risks from bacteria, like E.coli or shigella.
"You want to stay out of the water. You don't know what it contains. It could contain chemicals, fecal matter or animals. Do not go into the water unless you absolutely must," Dr. Beel says, noting that the risk of infection is higher if the water is contaminated.
Since power and water tend to be an issue after a storm, Dr. Beel also advises drinking bottled water and, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, only run generators or gas grills outside in well-ventilated areas.
Want to read more?
Safety in the hurricane aftermath
Hurricane safety: Preparing for cleanup before the storm
Mayo Clinic Minute: After the hurricane concerns
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