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[IDHS] officials caution: BE SAFE WHEN cleaning damaged structures
Start Date: 3/9/2012
End Date: 3/9/2012
Entry Description
officials caution: BE SAFE WHEN cleaning damaged structures

INDIANAPOLIS – Disaster officials urge Indiana residents to take extra precautions when returning to tornado-damaged homes, apartments or businesses to avoid accident or injury. Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) officials caution that all danger has not passed because the tornadoes and storms are over. The following are tips to help residents and volunteers stay safe during cleanup activities.


  • Check the outside of the building: Call your utility company immediately if you see downed power lines, detect gas leaks (natural gas smells like rotten eggs), hear water gurgling or see water bubbling up from underground.
  • Look for external damage: Examine the foundation for cracks or other damage. Inspect porch roofs and overhangs. If you find obvious damage, ask a building inspector to check the building before you go inside.
  • Enter the building carefully: If the door sticks at the top as it opens, it could mean the ceiling has been damaged. A sagging ceiling could mean that it is ready to cave in. Don't walk under a sagging ceiling until it has been checked.
  • Open burning: Do not burn debris. Construction and demolition debris can contain harmful chemicals that are released into the air when burned.



  • Check utility connections.  Have all utility connections inspected before resuming their use.
  • Dress for safety. Consider using a dust mask or N-95 mask to filter dust or other contaminants. Wear safety glasses, leather or rubber gloves and protective shoes (avoid rubber soled athletic shoes when walking in or around debris). Hard hats, long sleeves and pants are encouraged to guard against bumps and scrapes.
  • Look before you step: Floors and stairs covered with debris may be very slippery. Watch out for window glass, broken bottles, nails and other hazards.
  • First aid: Clean cuts and scrapes with clean, drinkable water. Use an antibacterial ointment and clean bandaging to protect the wound from infection. If the wound was caused by rusty metal or an unknown material, either confirm that your tetanus vaccination is current or get a tetanus booster shot. Go to a first aid station for, animal bites, major injuries, or wounds that require stitches. 
  • Protect your children: Don't let children play in debris.
  • Watch for animals: Snakes, skunks, raccoons and other wildlife may have moved into your home for shelter. Proceed with caution if you see signs that animals have been in your home. If you discover an animal, contact your local animal control agency to avoid the possibility of being bitten or injured.
  • Be alert for gas leaks: Do not strike a match or use an open flame when entering a building unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage, not an open flame.
  • Food: Food may have spoiled or been contaminated. Long power outages could have allowed refrigerated and frozen food to spoil, even if the food is cold or frozen now. Wildlife may have torn open food packaging. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Chemicals: Medicine, cleaning products, automotive liquids, and other chemicals may have been disturbed. If you believe the chemicals have been compromised, take them to a household hazardous waste recycling center.
  • Carbon monoxide exhaust kills: Do not use camp stoves and charcoal grills indoors. All cooking on camp stoves and charcoal grills should be done outside. Gas and charcoal fumes can be deadly.

Call 2-1-1 for further details and information on how to contact local authorities .




Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Residents
  • Agency Name
    Homeland Security, Indiana Department of

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