Monday, April 7, 2014

When natural disaster strikes...

Photo Credit: Snohomish County

 As we watch and read the news coverage of the devastating landslide in Snohomish County, many of us want to help. Please visit Snohomish County’s website to find out what you can do.

As the recovery efforts unfold, responders are finding the mud mixed with toxic materials from homes and vehicles such as propane, motor oil, solvents, and other household hazardous materials. This is a serious health risk for the responders and authorities have said the area will likely be contaminated for many years.

Hazardous materials are an issue with most natural disasters. In a flood, floodwaters quickly become contaminated. In an earthquake, containers of hazardous products can tip over or fall off of shelves to spill or break. This can lead to chemical exposures for disaster victims, first responders, and can even cause fires. In a fire, flammable hazardous materials can cause the fire to spread or become more severe. 
While we can’t control when a natural disaster will take place; we can control the type and amount of hazardous products that we keep in our homes, garages and barns.

Emergency Preparedness Tips for Hazardous Products
Photo Credit: Snohomish County
  • The best way to prevent hazardous material exposure or contamination during a natural disaster (or at any time), is to avoid using products that contain flammable, toxic, corrosive, or reactive chemicals. There are many safer alternatives for cleaning products and yard care products.
  • When you choose to use a hazardous product, only buy the amount you need at that time. This decreases the amount of chemicals stored on your property.
  • Choose the least toxic product for the job. Products with signal words such as “caution” and “warning” are less toxic than products labeled with “danger” or “poison”.
  • Store hazardous products in secondary containers such as plastic bins with lids. This practice will keep a spill from spreading.
  • Be sure containers are in good shape without rust and with caps or lids that work.
Photo Credit: Snohomish County
  • Bring old, unneeded hazardous products to the Thurston County HazoHouse for proper disposal, before the containers become old, brittle, or develop leaks. Disposal at HazoHouse is free for Thurston County residents.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a thorough publication with checklists and suggestions called Basic Preparedness. This publication can help you, your family, and neighbors understand what you can do to be prepared.

Photo Credit: National Guard
Our state is experiencing great loss in the Snohomish County landslide. We are proud of the responders and their courageous recovery efforts. We find comfort in the outpouring of love and support in our communities and from all over the state, the nation, and even the world. 

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