Safety precautions after a disaster
After a disaster, damage to property may cause unusual and additional safety hazards. Many disaster-related injuries and deaths occur due to injuries resulting from clean up in the aftermath of a disaster.
How to reduce chances of injury after a disaster
General safety tips
- Wear sturdy shoes when entering a building or walking through debris after a disaster.
- Carry a flashlight when entering dark buildings.
- Do not enter a building if the foundation has shifted or has been weakened.
- Do not demolish a building or house without professional help. Crews from the King County Dept. of Permitting and Environmental Review or licensed contractors can help you.
- Buildings must be declared safe before they can be entered.
- During a flood: avoid standing water to prevent drowning, even if it is only 6 inches deep. Do not drive through standing water.
- After a flood: avoid entering or touching flood water. It can have electrical charge, and may be contaminated with sewage and chemicals. Learn how to protect your health after a flood, how to clean mold, what to wear while cleaning, and what to keep and what to throw away.
Heating equipment safely
- If you smell gas, open all windows and doors. Do not use matches, candles, lighters, or turn on the stove. Sparks can ignite the gas and cause a fire or an explosion. Call the gas company from your neighbor's house.
- If you suspect there is damage to the heating equipment, do not use it until a qualified service representative has checked it.
Electrical equipment safety
- WARNING: Never use wet electrical appliances. They may cause an electric shock, overheat, or start a fire.
- Do not touch any exposed cable or electrical wire.
Safe storage of garbage
- Store garbage away from food and water.
- Have a spare container with a tight fitting lid to store garbage in case regular pick-up is not available.
- Report all unusual waste (animal carcasses, asbestos, and so on) to the City of Seattle Solid Waste Utility at 206-684-3000 (City of Seattle) or the King County Solid Waste Division at 206-477-4466 (King County).
Safety tips for children
- Do not allow children to wade or play in contaminated water or sand.
- Do not leave cleaning buckets with even small amounts of liquids unattended. Toddlers are "top heavy" and if they topple into a bucket, it may not tip over and they could drown.
What to do if an injury occurs
- Clean puncture wounds or cuts with soap and water. You may need to see your health care provider for a tetanus shot or antibiotics.
- In case of serious injury, go to an emergency room or call 911.