by Ian D Scofield
If you haven't heard of the flooding and storm problems in Texas right now, you are probably living under a rock. With this being the first category 4 hurricane to hit U.S shores since 2004, there are a lot of considerations that citizens of the United States may have forgotten. We are going to take a look at some of the safety tips that can keep both you, as LEOs, and the public safe. Keep reading.
Your emergency dispatcher should be relaying critical information to officers in the field but chances are that the police radio will be flooded with traffic (no pun intended). Keep a NOAA weather radio near you and keep it on. This will allow you to keep up to date with the current conditions. NOAA weather radios will allow you to know if more flooding is coming, future weather conditions, where not to go, and where you might want to focus your patrols.
During a flood there is plenty of water on the ground and there is bound to be moving water in your jurisdiction. Keep yourself and others out of the moving water. It only takes about 6 inches of moving flood water to trip a person. It takes even less than that to drown. Moving water can also be deceptive. You also do not know what might be carried by that water from animals to debris.
It probably sounds hard to do during a flood but you should do your best to keep clean and healthy during a flood. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer regularly will go a long way towards making sure that you are clean. Law enforcement departments will be busy for days, if not weeks, and chances are you will have a hard time finding a chance to shower but try to find a time to do so.
A flood will also be a festering ground for germs and disease. Make sure that you are up to date on your immunizations. As an LEO you will probably have already received many of your shots but make sure to get any that you need. If you get cut and it is exposed to contaminated water, try to get a tetanus shot ASAP.
Just because the flood may have knocked out power to homes and businesses does not mean that power sources aren't still live. Downed wires, car batteries, and other sources of power should be treated with extreme caution. Do not attempt to move power lines without a utility company confirming that they are not live. Electrical appliances should not be used if there is water on the ground, even if they are not touching the ground. You never know where a connection might be made.
Floods tend to displace animals, that includes snakes and other animals that could potentially cause harm to you and the citizens you are trying to serve. If you encounter an animal, make sure to deal with it in the safest possible manner. Many animals, including pets, will be terrified after the disaster and can respond accordingly to humans.
After a flood, there are sure to be plenty of chemical hazards. Propane tanks are common in many areas and these can present both explosion and health risks. Make sure that all propane tanks and gas sources are shut off. If you hear a hissing or have other reason to suspect a leak, back off and notify authorities. Note that you may have to wait a while before an energy company can come out. Even LEOs may have trouble getting an immediate response after a storm as big as Hurricane Harvey.
Other potential chemicals can include hazardous waste, garbage sites, and other areas that may store these chemicals during normal times. Hopefully, these sites had enough time to properly secure their storage but it is better safe than sorry. Should you get yourself hurt, that is one less first responder to hurt others.
Almost all disaster plans call to have police departments and other first responder facilities inspected quickly so as to allow emergency responders to get up and running quickly. However, if there hasn't been an inspection of a building and there appears to be any risk at the building, wait for it to be inspected. That includes heavy flooding at the area or fallen debris (power lines/trees).
Make sure that your department has an alternate command post in place. This location should be elevated and determined ahead of time. Plans for stalking this facility and getting staffing there should also be made ahead of time.
If you are in Texas, be safe and cautious during this trying time. Reach out to others when you need help. Our hearts go out to you while you try to keep Texans safe. For everyone else, take these tips to mind and you will be safer during a flood. Stay safe out there.
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Law enforcement is a very rewarding career, one that can enhance your life and benefit you greatly. Preparing for a job in law enforcement shares some similarities to other careers. At the same time it has unique challenges to overcome.
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.