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Health, Safety, and Resilience for Disaster Responders
Produced by the Office of Health and Safety, with the support of CDC's Resilience and Mental Health Team
It Can Happen to You
You will likely encounter hazardous and emotionally gripping conditions.
Accidents, illnesses, or exposures can occur. Risks for gastrointestinal
illness, dehydration, overexertion, and illness spread by skin and wound
infections will likely increase.
Your personal health and safety is our #1 goal; make it yours as well.
General Health and Safety Guidelines
Look for potential hazards and changing conditions. Warn others as needed.
Avoid contaminated water, snakes, stray or wild animals, carcasses, unstable
structures, debris piles, poorly ventilated areas near generator (a carbon
monoxide poisoning risk).
Report immediately any incident or unusual occurrence, or any exposure, fever,
rash, significant wound, unusual symptom.
Stay connected to people around you; use the "buddy" system.
Don't perform beyond your ability to do so safely. Lift heavy objects with a
Rest and relax when you can without feeling guilty. You'll need to recharge to
Food and Water Safety
Wash hands with soap and safe water before drinking or eating.
Use bottled water or sealed drinks only.
Follow any EPA, state, or local water authority's boil water advisories.
Don't eat food that may have contacted floodwaters or other contaminated water.
Heat and Sun Safety
Use SPF > 15 sunscreen.
Wear light-colored, loose-fitting long pants and long sleeve shirts (breathable
or wicking fabrics).
Drink 8 oz. of water for each 15 min. of activity.
Take breaks in a shaded area or cool room.
Prevent Disease and Injury
Wash hands with soap and safe water often and always after using restrooms.
Wear steel-toed, steel-bottomed shoes.
Change socks often; bring extras!
Check with team leader for duty-specific personal protective equipment (PPE).
Avoid flooded areas without appropriate PPE.
Use mosquito repellent with > 30% DEET.
Flush a wound well with safe running water and a soapy, 10-minute scrub. Get
prompt medical help if a wound is swelling, warm or hot to touch, or tender.
Helping out during an emergency can be emotionally taxing. You'll likely
experience mental and emotional stress, and increased physical stress, during
deployment and afterward. You'll need to be resilient to such stresses.
Resilience is the...
Ability to recover from or rapidly adjust to misfortune or change.
Ability to "bounce back" from difficult experiences in a healthy manner.
Increase Your Resilience to Stress
There's no shame in experiencing stress or taking positive action to manage it! Some helpful hints:
Connect to those around you, colleagues, and loved ones at home.
Share with family/significant others that you're safe and that you're eating and
Apprise family/significant others of the length of your deployment, especially as
Create a Routine
Create at least one routine activity, such as calling home during a certain part
of the day.
Schedule in that rest and relaxation time.
Eat well, as regularly as you can and exercise!
Symptoms of Stress
Heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness or tingling, gastrointestinal upset.
U.S. Department of Labor | Occupational Safety & Health Administration | 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210 Telephone: 800-321-OSHA (6742) | TTY www.OSHA.gov
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