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Preventing Injuries In The Wake Of The Storm

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warm water across the Atlantic and Caribbean, paired with less frequent wind shear, may result in an above-normal number of storms this hurricane season, with early development in the Caribbean in June. In preparation for possible impacts along the Gulf Coast, Lakeview Regional Medical Center reminds Northshore residents to be prepared in advance, and in the event of landfall in our area be mindful of the dangers that lurk following a storm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that hurricane related injuries are second only to heat related injuries in a compilation of all weather associated injuries in the United States. While a number of injuries are a direct result of the landfall, a vast majority of those injuries occur after the storm takes place. Lakeview Regional Medical Center’s highly trained Emergency Room staff remains on site and available for immediate emergency assistance during and after hurricane evacuations. “After Hurricane Isaac last year we saw a number of post storm related injuries in our Emergency Department,” states Dr. Charles Muntan, Lakeview Regional Medical Center’s Medical Director of the Emergency Department. “The most prevalent injuries were falls from ladders, roofs or trees; insect bites and stings; and lacerations and blunt trauma which occurred during clean up efforts.”  Dr. Muntan adds that using common sense and paying close attention to your surroundings can avoid most injuries.

Lakeview Regional recommends following the CDC’s safety guidelines for after a disaster:
General Tips:

  • Do not enter a building if you smell gas. Call 911. Do not light a match or turn on lights.
  • Wear waterproof boots and gloves to avoid floodwater touching your skin.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and clean water, or use a hand-cleaning gel with alcohol in it.
  • Avoid tetanus and other infections by getting medical attention for a dirty cut or deep puncture wound.
  • Do not turn on any electric or gas service until the safety of these utilities has been confirmed.
  • If power remains disrupted use flashlights. Candles left unattended can start fires.
  • If there has been structural damage to your home or to trees in your yard ask for assistance from a professional before you risk getting injured from fallen debris.

Generator Safety: Protect Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
Do not use generators, pressure washers, charcoal grills, camp stoves, or other fuel-burning devices indoors or in enclosed or partially enclosed areas such as garages, even with doors or windows open. Do not put these devices outside near an open door, window, or air vent. You could be poisoned or killed by carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas from burning fuel such as gasoline, charcoal, or propane. Make sure a battery or electric powered CO detector is functional to alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home.

Keep Drinking Water and Food Safe:

  • Listen to public announcements to find out if local tap water is safe for drinking, cooking, cleaning, or bathing. Until the water is safe, use bottled water or boil or disinfect water.
  • If a "boil water" advisory is in effect, do not drink tap water or use it to brush your teeth unless water has come to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute or is treated with unscented household chlorine bleach.  To treat water, add 1/4 teaspoon (approximately 1.5 mL) bleach to 1 gallon of cloudy water or 1/8 teaspoon (approximately 0.75 mL) bleach to 1 gallon of clear water.  Stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it.
  • Do not eat food that smells bad, looks bad, or has touched floodwater.  When in doubt, throw food out.
  • Be sure to guard against spoiled food.  If the power was disrupted, food in the refrigerator may have spoiled. Freezers will keep food for several days if the doors were left closed after the power went off.  Do not refreeze food once it begins to thaw.

Outdoor Hazards:

  • Watch for loose or dangling power lines.  Do not enter flood waters where there may be submerged appliances. Many lives are lost by electrocution.
  • Turn off the electrical power at the main source if there is standing water.  Do not turn on power or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Be extra careful when clearing fallen trees and limbs with a chain saw.  Power lines could be entangled.
  • Do not be a victim of a chain saw accident.  When in doubt, leave the work to professionals.
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  • Avoid Contact with Animals and Insects:
  • Reduce mosquito bites.  Consider avoiding outdoor activities during the evening and early morning, which are peak biting times for many mosquitoes.  Use an insect repellent with DEET or Picaridin.
  • Stay away from wild or stray animals.  Stray dogs may be hurt or afraid and may bite. Call local authorities to handle animals.
  • Be mindful of snakes and other displaced rodents.  Be careful where you place your hands while cleaning up debris.

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