Resource Appendix #4

Tools and Tips 


General Health and Safety Tips following disasters:

  • Always check with local health officials for guidance about living and working in a disaster-affected area 
  • Are pets safe and being cared for?  Have they been bathed since walking in the yard, street, or affected areas? 
  • Before eating garden produce, wash it thoroughly with cleaners recommended by your local health department 
  • Before planting or harvesting garden or orchard produce, have soil tested to make sure it is safe and free of contaminants 
  • Before entering a building, check for structural damage and make sure all utilities (gas lines and electricity) are disconnected or turned off.  Let the house air for several minutes before entering. 
  • Keep chemicals used for disinfecting, and poisons used for insect and rodent control, out of the reach of children 
  • Wear protective clothing on legs, arms, feet, and hands while clearing debris.  Wear rubber gloves while scrubbing flood-damaged items that will be used again.  Protective gear includes:  safety glasses or goggles, heavy-duty gloves, sturdy non-slip shoes, trim fitting clothes, long pants and long-sleeve shirt, hat, face mask or air purification device 
  • Assume all water sources are contaminated until proven safe.  Purify all water used for drinking, cooking, and washing eating/cooking utensils, hands, and kitchen/bathroom surfaces 
  • Do not use, touch, wade-in, or otherwise disturb water that is discolored, has an odor, or contains floating material or debris 
  • Before cleaning, disinfecting, or using any items that may have been contaminated, consult with your local health department 
  • Discard items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned (i.e. mattresses, carpeting, upholstered furniture, etc.) 
  • During clean-up, keep hands and fingers way from the nose, mouth, eyes, ears 
  • Leave soiled work clothes and shoes outside your living area 
  • Shower after work each day 
  • Cuts and open sores should be kept as clean and dry as possible to avoid infection from contaminated materials; apply antibiotic ointment to reduce infection and seek medical attention if infection is evident 
  • Use repellants containing DEET, Picaridin, or oil from lemon or eucalyptuses (remember that DEET is a powerful chemical that will dissolve plastics and other like materials, so use with caution) 
  • Remove debris from around houses as soon as possible to avoid attracting rodents and snakes 


 A Partnership of




Mr. Zachary Wolgemuth
Executive for UCC Disaster Ministries
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Ave
Cleveland, Ohio 44115