Reducing the Impact of Disasters Through Education
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Safety Notes for Field Staff


Floods and their aftermath can expose many threats to life and safety, depending on response and recovery efforts. Workers who respond to flooded areas are most at risk. Safety and health hazards can be expected in flood zone areas.

Stay safe in flooded recovery areas 

FEMA prepared the information below for their staff working in flooded areas.

Some hazards associated with floods and cleanups are listed below:

  • Airborne microorganisms; microbial growth (e.g. bacteria and fungi)
  • Heat stress
  • Mosquitoes
  • Slippery and unstable surfaces
  • Fatigue or exhaustion from working long shifts
  • Floodwater exposure; contaminated floodwaters
  • Sharp or jagged debris
  • Electrical hazards
  • Contact with animal and human remains
  • Air contaminants/Chemical exposures

Please contact your site safety and health official for area specific guidance.

General Safety:

  • Seek immediate first aid treatment or medical evaluation for any injuries and illnesses.
  • Report injuries or illnesses to your supervisor and site safety official.
  • Do not walk through flowing or standing water.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.
  • Watch for animals, especially snakes.
  • Look before you step.
  • Be alert for gas leaks.

Personal Safety:

  • Get Immunizations and be sure that they are current, e.g., Tetanus.
  • Use hand sanitizer. Wash hands with soap and clean water, preferably. When available, wash hands before work breaks, meal breaks and at the end of the work shift.
  • Keep safe potable water close by for drinking and washing. Consider all water unsafe until local authorities announce that the public water supply is safe
  • Use insect repellant
  • Use sunscreen
  • Have watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank; slip resistant).
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. This may decrease the risk of mosquito and other insect bites.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (2004). Floods.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Responders,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hazard Based Guidelines: Protective Equipment for Workers in Hurricane Flood Response,


Last Updated:11/3/2012 6:33 PM

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