Dealing with the aftermath of Sandy
October 30, 2012
With Hurricane Sandy officially behind us, the communities of eastern Connecticut now must cope with her devastation. Those left without power may be running their homes on generators while others are using chain saws to clear fallen trees. Scenarios such as these raise safety and public health concerns.
Once gasoline-powered generators are started up, they release carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas, which can be deadly. For this reason, those using generators during power outages should place it far away from their homes.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning presents with symptoms similar to the flu,” said Fred Potter, Coordinator of Emergency Medical Services at Backus Hospital. “They include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should get outdoors for fresh air and call 911.”
People should also take great care when operating chainsaws and be certain that electrical wires are not tangled in the debris. Protective equipment should be worn to prevent injuries to the eyes and face, feet and ears. A hard hat and chainsaw chaps should also be worn.
Only those who are experienced should handle chain saws, said Mr. Potter. Tree removal companies are a good resource to handle storm damage safely and appropriately.
A handful of other health issues can arise from hard-hitting storms.
Drinking water from public and well supplies can become contaminated. Discontinue use of water if it becomes discolored, foul smelling or contains floating remnants.
Water can be disinfected by boiling it for at least one minute or using water purification tablets according to directions. Water purification tablets can be purchased at department or hardware stores.
For more information about hurricane preparedness and resources:
Watch a video about how Backus coped with the storm at: www.backushospital.org/multimedia
Download hurricane preparedness information by clicking here.
Get general storm safety tips by clicking here.