The snow storm that brought blizzard-like conditions to much of the Northeast has left some areas with two to three feet of snow. Unfortunately when such a great deal of snow begins to melt, flooding can occur.
Snow melt isn’t the only cause of flooding so if you aren’t located in the Northeast – don’t think you’re out of the woods. Floods are unpredictable and can occur anywhere at anytime – which is what makes them so dangerous.
Some typical causes of flooding:
- River flooding
- Coastal flooding
- Flash floods
- Ice jams
- Heavy rains
- Spring thaw / Snow melt
- Dam failure
- Broken water mains
Some of the hazards associated with working in flooded and recently flooded areas include:
- Electrical hazards
- Carbon monoxide
- Musculoskeletal hazards
- Thermal stresses
- Heavy equipment operation
- Structural instability
- Hazardous materials
- Hypothermia due to the cold weather and water exposure
- Falls from heights
- Burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure
- Exhaustion from working extended shifts
When a flood occurs there is almost no way to determine how deep the water will become or where it will flow. Training your workers about flood safety will not only assure that they survive the flood at work but that they will know what to do during a flood at home – allowing them to come back to work again tomorrow. Click here for a Flood Fact Sheet from FEMA to pass on to your employees, your families and everyone you know.
Consider how you can prepare for a potential flood and ensure that everyone at your workplace stays safe and injury-free.
- Check sewer system. A clean sewer system will help the flood water recede faster;
- Stock up on basic essentials such as canned goods and clean drinking water (have enough on hand to give every employee food and clean drinking water for a week;
- Make sure all first aid kits are always fully stocked;
- Keep flashlights and extra batteries stored in different areas around the building;
- You should also have a battery operated radio;
- At your next weekly safety meeting make sure to cover emergency flood safety procedures. You should have an area of the building where all employees will meet during a natural disaster when it is unsafe to leave the building;
- If the power is still on after the water has begun to rise you should voluntarily turn off the power in order to prevent fires or electrocution.
- Know the area around you. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.
- Stay clear of electrical wires and other electrical hazards.
- Use sorbent pads to clean up oily flood water