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July 01, 2012

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Virginia Department of Health Offers Tips to Prevent Injuries and Food-borne Illness
(Richmond, Va.) People in the areas affected by the recent severe weather will continue to face a number of hazards associated with cleanup activities. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) offers the following safety tips:

Wear Protective Gear

  • For most cleanup work, wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank).
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.

Reduce Risk of Heat Exhaustion
While cleaning up after a severe storm during excessive heat, you are at risk for developing health problems. To reduce heat-related risks:

  • Drink a glass of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
  • Work during the cooler hours of the day.
  • Equipment such as chain saws may cause ringing in the ears and subsequent hearing damage.
  • Wear eye goggles while removing or cleaning up debris to prevent eye injuries.

Prevent Muscle and Bone Injury
Special attention is needed to avoid back injuries associated with manual lifting and handling of debris and building materials. To help prevent muscle and bone injury:

  • Use teams of two or more to move bulky objects.
  • Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds.
  • Use proper automated-assist lifting devices.
  • Use caution or seek professional assistance when removing fallen trees, cleaning up debris or using equipment, such as chain saws.
  • Wear eye goggles while removing or cleaning up debris to prevent eye injuries.

Food Safety Precautions
In the case of an electrical outage, it is important to take careful precautions to ensure food safety. The risk of food poisoning is heightened when refrigerators and ovens are inoperable.

  • Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Just remember, "When in doubt, throw it out!"
  • If your power has been out for 48 hours or longer - and you have NOT made other provisions for keeping your food at or below 41 degrees F - do not eat it.
  • If you have made other provisions to keep your food cold, make sure the temperature of the food is 41 degrees F or below before cooking or eating it.
  • A full cooler or freezer will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled, so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to insure a constant cold temperature.
  • Depending on the type of cooler you are using, ice will need to be replaced at least every 24 hours.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is poisonous to breathe. During storm cleanup, operate gasoline-powered generators and outdoors. Never bring them indoors.

Candle Safety

  • Use a flashlight instead of a candle whenever possible.
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as clothing, books, curtains, or flammable liquids.
  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, won�t tip over easily an