Virtually any natural disaster will entail a fair amount of cleanup. Whether we’re talking about downed trees or mountains of snow to be shoveled, it seems that once the initial crisis has ended, the real work begins. With all that work comes no small amount of injury potential, if you’re not careful.
Personal protective equipment goes a long way toward preventing you from getting hurt. Keep in mind that medical attention may not be readily available immediately after a disaster. Therefore, it is imperative you take steps to prevent injuries from happening.
Protecting Your Head
One of the most important pieces of protective equipment is safety glasses or goggles. Your eyes are precious and need to be protected as best you can. Glasses or goggles should be worn any time you’re dealing with the potential for flying debris, such as when using a chainsaw or a snowblower.
Dust masks should be worn when dealing with flying dirt and debris. I prefer to use N95 masks simply because that means I’ll have them on hand in the event of an infectious disease scenario.
Ear protection is important whenever you’re handling or working near loud equipment, from chainsaws to weed whackers to firearms. Ear damage is cumulative and can creep up on you before you realize it. Even disposable ear plugs are beneficial.
As a side note, both ear and eye pro (short for “protection”) are required at many gun ranges. You can use the same ear and eye pro recommended you use on the range in a disaster situation. The ear muffs that blunt the sound of gun shots also blunt the sound of a chainsaw or a generator, if you need to work near one for long.
Protecting Your Extremities
Your hands are typically the body parts closest to the action, so to speak, and should be protected by gloves of some sort. For most chores, I prefer one or another pair made by Mechanix. They are high quality, durable, and long lasting.
For winter work, such as snow removal, I’ll typically just go with whatever warm gloves I have on hand, no pun intended, although they should be waterproof. On top of protecting your hands, gloves also provide you with added grip, helping to prevent things from slipping through your fingers.
Heavy work boots are recommended any time you’re clearing storm debris. The ground may be slippery and you’ll appreciate the heavy boot tread. If possible, spring for the steel toe. More than one person has had their tootsies smashed by a falling log when they’re clearing out downed trees.
The #1 Protection Tool
The absolute best protective tool you can use, though, is that lump residing between your ears. Don’t rush through the cleanup.
Take your time, evaluate the situation, and think through all the steps before lifting or moving anything. Common sense goes a long way toward preventing accidents and injuries.
And don’t forget: kids need safety gear too!