Tetanus vaccination, Heat safety key to post-storm cleanup efforts

Monroe County, Fla. — The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County urges residents to be careful when cleaning up the debris that Hurricane Ian left in and around their homes and businesses.

Every person involved in cleanup should make sure their tetanus vaccination is current. Additionally, avoid heat stress when working outside or in non-air-conditioned buildings.

There may be unseen hazards under the water in areas that received storm surge or freshwater flooding. Flood waters can mask debris, downed power lines, and other hazards.

To ensure your safety during storm clean-up efforts:

  • Wear rubber boots, waterproof gloves, and protective eyewear during all cleanup. Storms can cause toxic materials to be spread through flood waters.
  • Do not mix household cleaners and disinfectants. Combining these products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury or death.
  • Walls, hard-surfaced floors, and other household surfaces must be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach, per 5 gallons of water.
  • Remove and discard contaminated household materials that cannot be disinfected, such as wallcoverings, furniture, and rugs. Wash all linens and clothing in hot water. Drywall and insulation that were exposed to water should be removed and discarded. Disinfection and drying of the internal wall structure will be necessary before replacement of drywall coverings can be installed.
  • It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items that have been exposed to floodwaters may be unhealthy. In general, materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded.
  • Chainsaws should only be operated in safe conditions, and by licensed professionals that are experienced in proper operation.


  • If you sustain a wound or deep cut, seek medical attention. Ask your doctor if you need a tetanus booster.
  • Never expose wounds to floodwaters.
  • Proper wound care is essential for all cuts and lacerations regardless of exposure to floodwaters. Clean wounds with soap, disinfectant, or bottled water.
  • Individuals deployed to work on recovery efforts are encouraged to contact their primary health care provider to make sure they are current on their tetanus vaccine.


Everyone participating in post-storm clean up should practice proper heat safety. A person can experience sunstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and even heatstroke if exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and fainting.

If heat exhaustion is left untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. If symptoms become more severe or last longer than one hour, seek medical attention immediately. If you suspect you may have heat exhaustion, take the following cooling measures:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Rest in an air-conditioned environment.
  • Take a cool shower or bath.

To avoid becoming dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids, especially water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Individuals with medical conditions such as kidney and heart disease, who require a fluid-restricted diet, or have problems with fluid retention, should consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids. 


  • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear a hat or to use an umbrella.
  • Prevent sunburn. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply as needed.
  • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink frequently, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
  • Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day to avoid excessive heat exposure.
  • Don’t forget your pets. Make sure your pets have access to water, ventilation, and shade. Animals can experience heat-related injuries as well.

For more information about debris clean up safety, visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/cleanup/facts.html

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