For the last four days, I have been glued to the Weather Channel watching the field reporters braving the elements surrounding Hurricane Matthew. This massive storm trekked up the southeastern U.S. coastline after blasting its way through the Caribbean nations of Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Although most of Florida was spared from the forecasted destruction, Matthew left a wake of downed trees and flooded homes across the Carolinas. Now the cleanup process begins, but the danger is not yet “gone with the wind.”
Cleaning up after a hurricane or other massive storm can bring just as many dangers as the 75+ mph wind and storm surge does. The days following the storm are when many people risk injury, sickness, and even death. Clearing debris, driveways, and power outages are minor inconveniences in comparison to what remains hidden.
Very few people go to the hospital during the hurricane itself. The streets are littered with shingles, fencing, pieces of trees, and downed power lines. Now that people are returning to their homes to get back to life, that is when the injuries, like cuts (from nails, glass, or broken wood), falls (from roofs or ladders), and accidental electrocution, occur.
The first step that many residents take to restore normality is to purchase a generator to bring back air conditioning to homes and power to refrigerators. A generator can be lethal in just a few minutes by producing carbon monoxide, the invisible and odorless gas. At least 14 people have already been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in Jacksonville. Generators should be kept outside at least 25 to 50 feet away from the house.
The Zika virus is already in Florida. The spread of disease is a major concern because of all the standing rainwater. The mosquitoes that carry Zika become adults in just a week’s time after hatching. Protect yourself from mosquitoes by applying generous amounts of insect repellent and get rid of standing water. If your neighborhood was evacuated, do not be in a hurry to come home until the water has receded.
There is much to do to clean up after the storm, but many people are glad that they are safe and healthy by heeding the advanced warnings.
Deo, Parminder and Dunn, Lauren. “Hurricane Health: The Hidden Dangers After the Storm Is Gone.” Health. NBCNews, 9 Oct 2016. Web. 9 Oct 2016.