Handex Insights

How Can You Avoid These Post-Hurricane Dangers?

Written by Maureen Davis | October 18, 2016

down tree after hurricane

Very few people enter the hospital during a major storm like Hurricane Matthew. After the storm, however, the floodgates tend to open. Many potentially fatal injuries can occur during the after effects of a hurricane. In fact, several deaths were reported in Volusia and Orange Counties as a result of fallen tree limbs or carbon monoxide poisoning in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Here are post-hurricane safety tips to ensure you don’t incur an illness or injury while recovering this hurricane season:

Downed Power Lines

After a powerful storm, you will probably notice the streets are littered with debris, broken branches and fallen trees. You have to consider that if a tree can be knocked over, so can a utility pole, so you have to be careful and watch out for downed power lines, especially if you have to wade through a flooded street or yard.

  • Keep an eye out for downed or loose power lines along the road
  • Avoid wading through flooded areas
  • Report any potential dangers that you site right away

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms when power outages occur. This is because many people will run a generator if there is no power without realizing that the colorless, odorless gas is seeping into their home. So how can you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Never run a generator indoors or in a covered area like a garage or porch
  • Keep the generator as far as possible from the house and point the exhaust away from doors and windows
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector inside your home before using a generator

Clearing Tree Limbs

When people start clearing debris from their yards and neighborhoods, there is a huge potential for injury. This makes it very important to exercise caution when trimming branches and clearing limbs. Here are few tips to help you stay safe and prevent injury when clearing your yard of post-storm debris:

  • Do not work alone
  • If using a chainsaw, start it on the ground
  • Make sure the chainsaw is lubricated before starting it
  • Watch for branches or thin trees that are under tension and may spring back at you

Illness and Infection

There is also a huge potential for illness or infection following a major storm. Flooded areas that contain standing water can also harbor disease or contain harmful chemicals. If you step on broken glass or cut yourself before entering a flooded area, there is a good chance you could end up with an infection.

Here are a few extra tips:

  • Wear rubber boots when walking through standing water
  • Reduce the risk of mold by removing flood-damaged belongings
  • Wear insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites

Take Precaution

Be safe the remainder of this hurricane season and don’t fall victim to the many post-storm hazards that are prevalent this season. Make sure you have help when clearing storm debris, watch out for downed power lines, and never ever run a generator indoors. Following these tips will increase the chances of you and your family staying safe.


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Written by Maureen Davis
Maureen has over 20 years of experience in occupational and public safety and health in the environmental and construction industries. As health & safety manager, Maureen’s primary responsibility is to provide effective leadership focused on compliance with all Federal, State and local health and safety regulations. At Handex, she has been instrumental in the development and implementation of strategies, training programs and various ways to ensure compliance with best safety practices. She is truly passionate in fostering the safety of others whether at work, home or in the general public.

Topics: Health & Safety, Storm Safety