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After a disaster, damage to property may cause unusual and additional safety hazards. Many disaster-related injuries and deaths occur due to injuries resulting from clean up in the aftermath of a disaster.

How to reduce chances of injury after a disaster

General safety tips

  • Wear sturdy shoes when entering a building or walking through debris after a disaster.
  • Carry a flashlight when entering dark buildings.
  • Do not enter a building if the foundation has shifted or has been weakened.
  • Do not demolish a building or house without professional help. Crews from the King County Dept. of Permitting and Environmental Review or licensed contractors can help you.
  • Buildings must be declared safe before they can be entered.

Heating equipment safely

  • If you smell gas, open all windows and doors. Do not use matches, candles, lighters, or turn on the stove. Sparks can ignite the gas and cause a fire or an explosion. Call the gas company from your neighbor's house.
  • If you suspect there is damage to the heating equipment, do not use it until a qualified service representative has checked it.

Electrical equipment safety

  • WARNING: Never use wet electrical appliances. They may cause an electric shock, overheat, or start a fire.
  • Do not touch any exposed cable or electrical wire.

Safe storage of garbage

  • Store garbage away from food and water.
  • Have a spare container with a tight fitting lid to store garbage in case regular pick-up is not available.
  • Report all unusual waste (animal carcasses, asbestos, and so on) to the City of Seattle Solid Waste Utility at 206-684-3000 (City of Seattle) or the King County Solid Waste Division at 206-477-4466 (King County).

Safety tips for children

  • Do not allow children to wade or play in contaminated water or sand.
  • Do not leave cleaning buckets with even small amounts of liquids unattended. Toddlers are "top heavy" and if they topple into a bucket, it may not tip over and they could drown.

What to do if an injury occurs

  • Clean puncture wounds or cuts with soap and water. You may need to see your health care provider for a tetanus shot or antibiotics.
  • In case of serious injury, go to an emergency room or call 911.