New York, NY - DOH Issues Safety Recommendations For Cleaning Up Homes After Hurricane Sandy
New York, NY - As the recovery from Hurricane Sandy continues, the Health Department urges New Yorkers to protect themselves from health and injury risks during cleanup. While Sandy has not caused problems with outdoor air quality, indoor dust, mold, fumes from temporary heating sources and the use of strong cleaning products can be irritating to the eyes, throat, and lungs. Dust can also be produced by repair and debris removal. In addition, debris removal and repair work can lead to injuries of various types. To help you and your family stay safe, the Health Department recommends the following:
Keep Yourself Protected
• Wear waterproof gloves and boots during cleanup. Remove and wash clothing when finished.
• Use a dust mask and safety glasses if cleaning will produce dust.
• Wash hands and face with soap and water before eating or drinking.
• Open windows and doors to ventilate as much as possible while cleaning to prevent irritation from dust and strong cleaning chemicals.
• Keep children and pets away from areas you are cleaning.
• Most surfaces and items can be cleaned effectively with soap or detergent and water.
• To disinfect materials and surfaces that came in contact with sewage, add one cup household bleach to two gallons water. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
• If your belongings came in contact with fuel oil or other household chemicals, wash them thoroughly with detergent and water. Do not put contaminated clothing in a dryer until all oil is removed.
• Clean with soap and water. Do not use full strength bleach or mix bleach with other cleaning products. Use diluted bleach sparingly and only on areas that require disinfection.
• Dry out affected areas of the home as soon as possible. Open windows, use fans if available, and remove and discard porous building materials that got wet. Wallboard should be removed at least 6 inches above the watermark along with any insulation that soaked up water. Leave walls open until they dry out to prevent sealing in moisture.
• Exteriors of homes seriously affected by flooding need to be assessed for water damage as well; siding should be removed to check for damage, and to assist with full drying.
• Walls, siding, tiling and other materials should not be reinstalled until all building materials are fully dry, cleaned and, if necessary, disinfected.
• For more information on preventing mold, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/epi/mold.shtml.
• Wear heavy duty work gloves, boots, long sleeve shirts and jeans or work pants.
• Clear pathways for carrying out debris.
• Residents working on cleanup projects should check to make sure they have been immunized for tetanus within the last 10 years, and obtain a tetanus booster if they have not. If a person is unsure about the date of their last tetanus shot, they should receive the booster as well. The Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) vaccine is preferred over Td, when available.
Avoiding Injury During Debris Removal
• Remove debris in manageable amounts, use more than one person with heavy loads.
If you get a cut or puncture wound from handling debris:
• Clean thoroughly under running water.
• Apply antibiotic ointment.
• Cover with sterile gauze and tape.
• Keep the wound dry and clean.
• Change the bandage twice a day until healed.
• Seek medical attention if any of the following apply: the wound is large enough that it may require closure with sutures or other means, you think there may be pieces of debris in the wound, or you develop any signs of infection such as pain, redness, swelling and/or pus.
• If you get an injury, you will need a tetanus booster if you have not received one in the past five years.
• Do NOT enter rooms with standing water unless power is turned off at the main switch.
• Do NOT run any electrical equipment or appliances near standing water or on wet materials.
Heating Oil Tanks
• If you have a home heating oil tank and it has leaked or has been damaged by the storm, or you suspect that fuel has been released in or near your home, call the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at (800) 457‐7362 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., seven days a week).
• Keep flames away from the area.
For more tips on safely cleaning your home after Hurricane Sandy, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/ehs/floods-food.shtml
In addition to the information on the Health Department website, the National Center for Healthy Housing offers guidance on cleaning up after a flood at http://nchh.org/Portals/0/Contents/FloodCleanupGuide_screen_.pdf.
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