Community Disaster Safety Awareness Volunteering North by liaoqinmei




Developed by: R. ROBERSON
Disaster Volunteer Coordinator (VNQ)





This awareness training has been designed to assist community members better understand the
dangers associated with Post Disaster Recovery Activities (PDRA)

Disaster can come in all forms and as such a PDRA may well vary.

The Volunteer Community Recovery Coordination Group (VCRCG) has prepared these sessions to
assist community members be prepared before a disastrous event and better safely assist in
community recovery activities after an event. Recovery activities may range from around the home,
in the immediate neighbourhood or in a devastated community area.

The awareness program has six (6) sessions. Each section addresses a particular subject and should
be read in its entirety. Some will read sections and think “well that’s just common sense” and they
will be right, but others will find this program educational and enlightening.

Not everyone knows everything, there is always room to learn or refresh previously gained

Community Disaster Awareness Program:
Session 1:      Disaster Action Planning                                        page 3

Session 2:      General Health and Safety                                       page 27

Session 3:      Electrical Safety (Mains, Solar and Generators)                 page 37

Session 4:      Asbestos Identification and Safety                              page 39

Session 5:      Post Traumatic Stress                                           page 43

Session 6:      Chainsaw Safety                                                 page 48


          SESSION ONE


                            Disaster Planning & Action Plan


        An event that has a potential to cause loss of life, health, livelihood, assets and/or services –
        which could occur to a particular community or a society over a specified time period.

        Basically disasters can be divided into types, Natural and Manmade.

        Natural Disasters can be:

                         Geological Hazards - Volcanic eruption, Earthquakes, Tsunamis and

                         Hydro-meteorological Hazards – Tropical cyclones, Thunderstorms,
                         Tornados, Blizzards, Heavy snowfalls, Avalanches, Flood, Droughts, Heat
                         waves and Wild Fires (Bushfires)

There may be incidents where the action of a natural disaster could result in a domino reaction that
cause or amplify an additional disastrous event, not of a natural nature e.g. Industrial Accident,
Explosion or Fire as a result of a Natural Disaster.

Fortunately, not all of the above hazards can cause a disaster. Natural Hazards may occur in remote
areas and as such may not trigger a disaster because it has little to no effect of population or

This section is aimed at community awareness and planning for hazards that do become disasters
and ultimately effect population and property.

Manmade Disasters are exactly that, created or caused by man, Structural Fires, Structural Collapse,
Chemical Explosions/ Spills, War, are some examples.

Disaster Planning
Disaster Planning is one of the many names given to the basic process known as being prepared
before a disastrous event.

Disaster Planning does require a little bit of thought and action to be successful, but on saying that,
in Australia there are numerous resources available to assist in this process.

Disaster Planning is about the survival of or lessening the impact on people and property as a result
of a disastrous event.

Families and individuals should make the time to become familiar with information produced by
Emergency Management organisations relating to what to do before disastrous events that may
have an impact your community.

Emergency Management Australia for example produces single page ACTION GUIDE pamphlets on
CYCLONES, FLOOD and STORM. These guides combined with information contained in the more
expanded handouts developed for local communities go a long way towards informing the individual
or family on pre-disaster planning.

        Annex A. attached may help

Businesses have a responsibility to ensure they have not only a Disaster Plan for the actual business
but a Disaster Plan for the protection of their employees whilst at work. Furthermore it may be
necessary to build into the Business Disaster Plan the provision and availability of operational staff
during a particular disastrous event.

        Annex A. attached (page 6) - Disaster Action Plan Template

                This may assist Individuals, Families and Business to expand their scope of planning
                thoughts and areas to be considered

        Annex B. attached (page 9) - Business Disaster Plan Template

                This may assist a business get their head around how to develop a plan.

Annex A



                      DISASTER ACTION PLAN - TEMPLATE

To assist in developing a Disaster Plan, first an Action Plan needs to be developed.

By the utilizing the below Action Plan (Questions and Answers) it is possible to ascertain what
needs to be addressed in the Disaster Plan.

Although the action plan reads as it applies to a Business, in fact it can be readily adapted to any
event that requires a Disaster plan.

                                        Action Plan

Question                                  Action

Our Clients

(My Family)

Who is at risk?

Who might become at risk?

How many?

What are their specific needs?

Our Staff

(Family Individuals)

Who is at risk?

Who might become at risk?

How many?

Who might be able to help?

Our Organisation

(My Family Unit)

Do we need to function and if so, how
will we function?

What do we need to do to operate?

Our Community

(Your neighbours)

What other roles do I have?

Have I done what is expected?

Our Image

(Neighbourhood Responsibility)

What roles do I have?

Have done what is expected?

Our Future

(Family and Community Safety)

Have I done everything reasonably
possible to ensure the safety of clients
and staff?

Have I kept the local authorities
informed of actions taken?

Have I briefed staff and volunteers on
appropriate statements to media?

Annex B


                      BUSINESS DISASTER PLAN


Facility Name: ________________________________________

Facility Address: ______________________________________

Date prepared: ________________________________________

Prepared by:   ________________________________________

Next review date: ______________________________________

Date last amended: _____________________________________



_____________site, __________, ___________, or ____________

Name: _______________________________ Phone: ________________


Name: Phone: (______________)

AREA/FLOOR MONITORS (If applicable):

Area/Floor: Name: Phone: _______________

Area/Floor: Name: Phone: _______________


Name: Phone: ________________________________________

Name: Phone: ________________________________________

                                   EVACUATION ROUTES

Evacuation route maps have been posted in each work area. The following information is marked on
evacuation maps:

       1.      Emergency exits

       2.      Primary and secondary evacuation routes

       3.      Locations of fire extinguishers

       4.      Fire alarm call point (MCP) location

       5.      Assembly points

Site personnel should know at least two evacuation routes.

                            EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS

FIRE SERVICE:         000

AMBULANCE:            000

POLICE:               000

SECURITY (If applicable): _________________

BUILDING MANAGER (If applicable): ________________


(Specify name of the company, phone number and point of contact)

ELECTRIC: _____________________

WATER: _______________________

GAS (if applicable): __________________________

TELEPHONE COMPANY: _______________________


Types of emergencies to be reported by site personnel are:









OTHER (specify) _________________________________________

                       (e.g., terrorist attack/hostage taking)

                                     MEDICAL EMERGENCY

Call medical emergency phone number (check applicable):


Fire Service

Other _____________________________________________________________

Provide the following information:

       Nature of medical emergency,
       Location of the emergency (address, building, room number) and
       Your name and phone number from which you are calling

Do not move victim unless absolutely necessary.

Call the following personnel trained in CPR and First Aid to provide the required assistance prior to
the arrival of the professional medical help:

Name: __________________________________________________

Phone: _______________________

Name: __________________________________________________

Phone: ________________________

If personnel trained in First Aid are not available, as a minimum, attempt to provide the following

       Stop the bleeding with firm pressure on the wounds (note: avoid contact with blood or other
        bodily fluids).
       Clear the air passages in case of choking.

In case of rendering assistance to personnel exposed to hazardous materials, consult the Material
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

Commence first aid.

                                         FIRE EMERGENCY

When fire is discovered:

       Activate the nearest fire alarm (if installed)
       Notify the Fire Service by calling. 000
       If the fire alarm is not available, notify the site personnel about the fire
       emergency by the following means (check applicable):

 Voice    Communication                            Radio

 Phone Paging                                     Other (specify

Fight the fire ONLY if:

       The Fire Service has been notified
       The fire is small and is not spreading to other areas
       Escaping the area is possible by backing up to the nearest exit
       The fire extinguisher is in working condition and personnel are trained to use it

Upon being notified about the fire emergency, occupants must:

       Leave the building using the designated escape routes
       Assemble in the designated area (specify location)
       Remain outside until the competent authority (Designated Official or designee) announces
        that it is safe to re-enter

Designated Official, Emergency Coordinator or supervisors must (underline one):

       Disconnect utilities and equipment unless doing so jeopardizes his/her safety.
       Coordinate an orderly evacuation of personnel.
       Perform an accurate head count of personnel reported to the designated area
       Determine a rescue method to locate missing personnel
       Provide the Fire Department personnel with the necessary information about the facility

Area/Floor Monitors must:

       Ensure that all employees have evacuated the area/floor
       Report any problems to the Emergency Coordinator at the assembly area

Assistance to physically challenged should:

      Assist all physically challenged employees in emergency evacuation

                                  EXTENDED POWER LOSS

In the event of extended power loss to a facility certain precautionary measures should be taken
depending on the geographical location and environment of the facility:

      Unnecessary electrical equipment and appliances should be turned off in the event that
       power restoration would surge causing damage to electronics and effecting sensitive
      Facilities with freezing temperatures should turn off and drain the following lines in the
       event of a long term power loss.
      Fire sprinkler system
      Standpipes
      Potable water lines
      Toilets
      Add propylene-glycol to drains to prevent traps from freezing
      Equipment that contains fluids that may freeze due to long term exposure to freezing
       temperatures should be moved to heated areas, drained of liquids, or provided with
       auxiliary heat sources.

Upon Restoration of heat and power:

      Electronic equipment should be brought up to ambient temperatures before energizing to
       prevent condensate from forming on circuitry.
      Fire and potable water piping should be checked for leaks from freeze damage after the heat
       has been restored to the facility and water turned back on.

                                        CHEMICAL SPILL

The following are the locations of:

Spill Containment and Security Equipment: _________________________________

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): ______________________________________

MSDS: _______________________________________________________________

When a Large Chemical Spill has occurred:

       Immediately notify the designated official and Emergency Coordinator.
       Contain the spill with available equipment (e.g., pads, booms, absorbent
        Powder etc.).

       Secure the area and alert other site personnel.
       Do not attempt to clean the spill unless trained to do so.
       Attend to injured personnel and call the medical emergency number, if required.
       Call a local spill cleanup company or the Fire Department (if arrangement has been made) to
        perform a large chemical (e.g., mercury) spill cleanup.

Name of Spill Cleanup Company: _________________________________________

Phone Number: ________________________________________________________

Evacuate building as necessary

When a Small Chemical Spill has occurred:

       Notify the Emergency Coordinator and/or supervisor (select one).
       If toxic fumes are present, secure the area (with caution tapes or cones) to prevent other
        personnel from entering.
       Deal with the spill in accordance with the instructions described in the MSDS.
       Small spills must be handled in a safe manner, while wearing the proper PPE.
       Review the general spill cleanup procedures.

List structures maintained by site personnel (tower, river gauge, etc.):

Building No ____________
Structure Type_________________________________________________________
Location (address, If applicable) _________________________________________________________
Emergency Response Organisation_____ ____________________________________

Building No ____________
Structure Type _________________________________________________________
Location (address, If applicable) _________________________________________________________
Emergency Response Organisation _________________________________________

Building No ____________
Structure Type _________________________________________________________
Location (address, If applicable) _________________________________________________________
Emergency Response Organisation _________________________________________

Building No ____________
Structure Type _________________________________________________________
Location (address, If applicable) _________________________________________________________
Emergency Response Organisation _________________________________________

Building No ____________
Structure Type _________________________________________________________
Location (address, If applicable) _________________________________________________________
Emergency Response Organisation _________________________________________

Emergency Response Organization(s):

Name ______________________________ Phone Number_____________________

Name ______________________________ Phone Number_____________________

                          TELEPHONE BOMB THREAT CHECKLIST

YOUR NAME: ______________________ TIME: ________ DATE: ____________

CALLER'S IDENTITY SEX:  Male Female Adult Juvenile ____


ORIGIN OF CALL: Local Long Distance Mobile Telephone Booth

Loud High Pitch Raspy Intoxicated Soft Deep Pleasant Other

Fast Distinct Stutter Slurred Slow Distorted Nasal Other

Excellent Fair Foul Good Poor Other


Local Not Local Foreign Race Region

Calm Rational Coherent Deliberate Righteous Angry Irrational Incoherent
Emotional Laughing

Factory Machines Music Office Street Traffic Trains Animals Quiet
Voices Airplanes Party Atmosphere

                                            BOMB FACTS

When will it go off? Certain Hour ______ Time Remaining _________
Where is it located? Building________________ Area_______________
What kind of bomb? __________________________________________
What kind of package? ________________________________________
How do you know so much about the bomb? ______________________
What is your name and address? ________________________________

If building is occupied, inform caller that detonation could cause injury or death.

Call POLICE on 000 and relay information about call.
Did the caller appear familiar with plant or building (by his/her description of the bomb location)?
Write out the message in its entirety and any other comments on a separate sheet of paper and
attach to this checklist.

Notify your supervisor immediately.
When a warning is issued, seek inside shelter.

Consider the following:
    Small interior rooms on the lowest floor and without windows,
    Hallways on the lowest floor away from doors and windows, and
    Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick, or block with no windows.
    Stay away from outside walls and windows.
    Use arms to protect head and neck.
    Remain sheltered until the tornado threat is announced to be over.

     Stay calm and await instructions from the Emergency Coordinator or the designated official.
     Keep away from overhead fixtures, windows, filing cabinets, and electrical power.
     Assist people with disabilities in finding a safe place.
     Evacuate as instructed by the Emergency Coordinator and/or the designated official.


    If indoors:
     Be ready to evacuate as directed by the Emergency Coordinator and/or the designated
     Follow the recommended primary or secondary evacuation routes.
    If outdoors:
     Climb to high ground and stay there.
     Avoid walking or driving through flood water.
     If car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to a higher ground.


The nature of a cyclone provides for more warning than other natural weather disasters. A cyclone
watch issued when a cyclone becomes a threat to a coastal area. A cyclone warning is issued when
Gale or High winds or a combination of dangerously high water and rough seas, are expected in the
area within 24 hours.

Once a cyclone watch has been issued:

        Stay calm and await instructions from the Emergency Coordinator or the designated official.
        Moor any boats securely, or move to a safe place if time allows.
        Continue to monitor local TV and radio stations for instructions.
        Move early out of low-lying areas or from the coast, at the request of officials.
        If you are on high ground, away from the coast and plan to stay, secure the building, moving
         all loose items indoors and board/tape up windows and openings.

       Collect drinking water in appropriate containers.
       Be ready to evacuate as directed by the Emergency Coordinator and/or the designated
       Leave areas that might be affected by storm tide or stream flooding.

During a cyclone:

    Remain indoors and consider the following:

       Small interior rooms on the lowest floor and without windows,
       Hallways on the lowest floor away from doors and windows, and
       Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick, or block with no windows.

Blizzard: (not common in North Queensland)

    If indoors:

       Stay calm and await instructions from the Emergency Coordinator or the designated official.
       Stay indoors
       If there is no heat:
             o Close off unneeded rooms or areas.
             o Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors
             o Cover windows at night.
             o Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy and heat. Fluids prevent
             o Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing, if available.
   If outdoors:

        Find a dry shelter. Cover all exposed parts of the body.
        If shelter is not available:
              o Prepare a lean-to, wind break, or snow cave for protection from the wind.
              o Build a fire for heat and to attract attention. Place rocks around the fire to absorb
                  and reflect heat.
              o Do not eat snow. It will lower your body temperature. Melt it first.
If stranded in a car or truck:
      Stay in the vehicle
      Run the motor about ten minutes each hour. Open the windows a little for fresh air to avoid
         carbon monoxide poisoning.
      Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked.
     Make yourself visible to rescuers.

                       Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
                       Tie a colour cloth to your antenna or door.
                       Raise the hood after the snow stops falling.
                       Exercise to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

                                     CRITICAL OPERATIONS

During some emergency situations, it will be necessary for some specially assigned personnel to
remain at the work areas to perform critical operations. This may include rostering and using
available volunteers.


Work Area _______________________________________________________
Name ___________________________________________________________
Job Title _________________________________________________________
Description of Assignment ___________________________________________

Optional Instructions

        Personnel involved in critical operations may remain on the site with permission of the site
         designated official or Emergency Coordinator.

        In case emergency situation will not permit any of the personnel to remain at the facility, the
         designated official or other assigned personnel shall notify the appropriate
         _______________ offices to initiate backups. This information can be obtained from the
         Emergency Evacuation Procedures included in the site Operations Manual.

The following offices should be contacted:

Name/Location: ________________________________________________
Telephone Number: _____________________________________________

Name/Location: ________________________________________________
Telephone Number: _____________________________________________

Name/Location: ________________________________________________
Telephone Number: _____________________________________________

The following personnel have been trained to ensure a safe and orderly emergency evacuation of
other employees:


Name ________________________________________________________
Title _________________________________________________________
Responsibility _________________________________________________
Date _________________________________


Name ________________________________________________________
Title _________________________________________________________
Responsibility _________________________________________________
Date _________________________________


Name ________________________________________________________
Title _________________________________________________________
Responsibility _________________________________________________
Date _________________________________


Name ________________________________________________________
Title _________________________________________________________
Responsibility _________________________________________________
Date _________________________________


Name ________________________________________________________
Title _________________________________________________________
Responsibility _________________________________________________
Date _________________________________


Name ________________________________________________________
Title _________________________________________________________
Responsibility _________________________________________________

Date _________________________________

                                      TRIGGER POINTS

With all disaster plans there needs to be a determined point in time when certain actions are
commenced. These points may differ within each sector of a plan e.g. fire as against cyclone

Individual organisations will need to review their Actions Plans and taking into account factors such
as Time, Manpower, Task, Resources and Supply to determine when certain parts of their action
plan need to be implemented.

Actions Plans are only successful when they are implemented in a timely manner. By identifying
action plan activation ‘Trigger Points’ your plan has a greater degree of achieving a smoother and
successful operation.



                              General Health and Safety

Disasters no matter what are dangerous events.

By virtue of the fact an event has been declared a disaster indicates it has resulted in loss of life,
livelihood, assets and/or services to a community or society.

The impact on a community by such an event may well have destroyed life, building, roads, bridges,
rail lines, power, gas, water, sewage, communication, crops, vegetation, food supplies, health and
emergency services.

For Disaster Authorities the Health and Safety of the community is paramount before, during and
after an event, followed closely by the restoration of damaged or destroyed services.

Unfortunately the task of getting a community back to normal does not happen overnight in fact it
may take years.

In the section ‘Disaster Action Planning’ it was discussed what pre-planning individuals, families and
businesses should take to lessen the impact on them as a result of a disastrous event. After a
disastrous event homes, businesses, community and its infrastructure as it was known may well
have changed or been destroyed.

Disaster and Emergency Authority’s initially focus on rescue, preservation of life and ensuring
medical treatment for injured is forthcoming. At the same time these same Authorities are assessing
the impact and scope of the disaster on the community and activating their Disaster Action Plans

Local, State or even Federal Authorities may well close off access to areas, prevent roads/bridges
from being used and issue warning in relation to Health and Safety matters. These restrictions and
health & safety warnings must be adhered to by the community for their own safety.

It is a well documented fact that community members are the first to assist other community
members after a disaster.

This assistance may range from helping trapped people, fire fighting, first aid, transporting to
emergency treatment, clearing roads, debris removal, feeding or comforting. What needs to be
remembered is this assistance is being given in a hazardous environment and as such an area of
potential health and safety risks.

Below are listed some of the more common Health and Safety issues that could apply after a
disaster. Community members should make themselves aware of these issues and act accordingly.

   Stay off the roads unless your trip is necessary:

        This is not a time to be a tourist.
        Road surfaces could be destroyed, washed out, undermined or covered in hazardous
        Emergency Services will be busy enough without needing to deal with casual traffic
        or additional incidents caused by drivers just looking.

   Do not drive through flood water:

        Too often we see reports of vehicles being trapped or washed away whilst
        attempting to drive through flooding. In many cases these attempts result in loss of
        life and not necessarily that of the driver.
        Flood water is unforgiving. Water will cause the vehicle to float and loose traction.
        Moving water on the flat side of a vehicle or the side of wheels may push it off a
        road, causeway or bridge.

        Moving flood water will remove roads surfaces and gouge deep holes. This same
        water may wash out the road over culverts, remove bridges or force logs and other
        hazards to be deposited under flooded areas.

   Do not walk through flood water:

        The dangers that apply to driving through flood water also apply to walking.
        Walking has additional dangers, dangers like storm water/manhole,
        Telstra/electrical and sewage pits covers lifted and moved plus trip and fall debris
        hidden underwater.

        A Health and Safety danger that is not readily thought about when walking through
        flood water is what is floating on the water. Flood water will fill all low points first
        and the stormwater drains and sewage pits are one of the first to fill. Once filled, the
        contents of these drains and pits will float on the water surface.

        Other things that will float on the surface of water are oils, fuels, chemicals and
        construction nasties like fibreglass and asbestos from industrial areas, none of which
        should come in contact with the skin directly or through wet clothing.

   Power Lines:

        We all understand that electricity will kill. Overhead power lines are one of the
        many victims of Cyclone, Flood and Bushfire and in the majority of cases these lines
        will either end up on the ground or caught up in bush and structural wreckage.

        It is a very brave person who assumes that because power lines are on the ground or
        in water, then they must be safe. Power lines should be treated as alive until the
        relevant authority has given them the all clear.

       In a normal residential area power supply to a house can be between 240 volts to
       415 volts. That same pole may also carry lines containing 11,000 volts. All of this
       energy cannot be seen and if a wire is on the ground then that energy will fan out
       from the wires ground point of contact. If the wire is in water or on metal it will fan
       out a greater distance than it would on dry dirt. On dry ground a safe distance from
       downed 240v lines is no closer than 10mtres. Be aware of power lines that are off
       their insulators and touching cross arms or the pole. The pole may be alive.

       Bushfires create smoke. Smoke is carbon and carbon is a conductor of electricity.
       High voltage power transmission lines can arc between line or the ground in smoke
       and flame. When dealing with Bushfire and its associated smoke/flame do not enter
       or hose any closer than 25mtres from the closest power line.

   Be aware of damaged structures:

       Damages structures have potentially dozens of hazards.

       The first hazard may be the instability of the structure. If people are trapped then
       notify the appropriate authority 000. Avoid entering or moving debris as this may
       cause further collapse and endanger you and those trapped.

       Power may be grounded due to a collapse thus making areas alive and/or gas may
       be leaking creating an explosive situation. Be aware of Solar Power and/or
       Generator Power supply as these may not necessarily be legally or safely connected,
       do not enter, and call the appropriate Authority or 000

   Sewage and Water:

       As earlier stated sewage pipes can become flooded or damaged as a result of a
       disastrous incident. This can also be applied to drinking water infrastructure.

       Having plenty of drinking water is part of the advice given by the Authorities for
       making up Disaster/Evacuation Kits. This is done for a reason and that reason is to
       ensure your wellbeing in the event of damage to water purification sites and supply

       Listen to your radio (part of your Disaster/Evacuation Kit) for announcements
       relating to drinking water safety. Follow this advice. If you are not sure about water
       quality, boil it before use.

   Bare feet:

       Walking around with bare feet in a hazardous environment is inviting Health and
       Safety issues.

       Notwithstanding the potential of cuts, gashes, puncture and impact wounds that
       may require medical treatment and leave you immobile, there is also the danger of
       associated infections

        In northern Australia there is an additional danger. This danger is bacterial. It’s
        named MELIOIDOSIS.

        Melioidosis is a disease that lives naturally in the soil across northern Australia. This
        infectious disease survives in rainfall run off and peaks during the northern wet
        season or periods of extreme wet weather.

        Ground Water carries these bacteria, so run-off water during storms, heavy rain and
        flooding has the potential of containing Melioidosis. Mud and soil also carry the
        Melioidosis so people need to be aware and take the appropriate prevention.

        There is no vaccine for the prevention of melioidosis. During the northern wet
        season, adults, particularly anyone with underlying medical issues such as diabetes,
        chronic lung or kidney diseases, excessive alcohol consumption, cancer and
        treatment (such as steroids) that lower immunity, are at a greatly increased risk of
        the disease.

        Precautions that should be taken are:

                Wear protective footwear when outdoors

                Wear gloves when working in the garden or in mud/soil

                Cover cuts, abrasions and sores with a waterproof dressing

                Wash thoroughly (shower preferably) after exposure to mud, soil, muddy
                water and after working outdoors

                Diabetics should maintain optimal foot care, with professional podiatrist
                advice if necessary.

                (Precaution advice source: Queensland Health)

   Clearing or Cleaning:

        There are very few disastrous situations where after the event, clearing or cleaning
        does not become a task.


        The section ‘Bare Feet” has explained why footwear is necessary to avoid foot injury
        or infection. Sturdy closed in and well fitting footwear is advised for working in
        structural or loose material environments. Safety capped boots should be preferred
        in areas where crushing or impact hazards may occur. In wet areas water protective
        boots should be favoured, again these can be purchased with safety protective toes.
        Water protective boots should never be worn in depths where water can fill the
        boot. This defeats the boots purpose and gives exposure to water born bacterial
        infections and/or floating chemical type hazards.


The Melioidosis precautions list shows gloves are advised when working in mud, soil
or the garden as they act as a barrier. These gloves should have a large degree of
water resistance. Sturdy gloves need to be worn when clearing or cleaning after a
disastrous event. Moving destroyed or damaged items such as structural material,
tin, glass, trees/bushes or home contents has the potential of contact with sharp or
splintered edges. Gloves will offer a degree of hand protection against these
surfaces along with protection against minor impact and crushes.

Eye protection:

During clearing and cleaning many forget about safety of the eyes. Dust, flying
debris, contaminated water or chemicals all can have a devastating effect on
someone if entering the eyes.

Full sealed safety goggles should be worn for eye protection whilst clearing or
cleaning. Safety glasses with side wing protection will offer a degree of eye
protection but will not be satisfactory where dust, ash, fluids or smoke is involved.

Face Masks

Dust, smoke, fluid and fine particles can enter the lungs through the nose and
mouth (ingestion). Ingestion is a common way of hazards entering the body and
may result in medical problems or permanent lung damage. Although an area may
appear to be dust free, disturbed microscopic dust, fungi or bacteria can become
airborne and be ingested through normal breathing.

A P1 or preferably a P2 paper dust mask will suffice in normal dust/ particle
situations. A wet towel over the nose and mouth, although cumbersome, will do a
similar job for a short time as a P1 or P2 mask.

If the situation involves chemicals or gasses you are best advised to evacuate the
area upwind and uphill, keep people away and immediately notify the Fire Authority
on 000. Specialised close circuit breathing equipment will be required.

General Clothing:

Broad brim Hat, (Helmet if available) long sleeve shirt and trousers or overalls are
the dress of the day for disaster clearing or cleaning. This clothing offers the most
general protection to body from the elements and also insects and other distressed
biting wildlife.

Tee’s, shorts and thongs may seen the most comfortable attire to wear to a disaster,
but in a hazardous area these offer little to no protection to the wearer.


In our stress created by what has happened or our quest to assist where we can, we
can very easily forget to take fluids. (Drink water).

Without a continual topping up of our body fluid lost through perspiration, our body
will become distressed. Unfortunately, you as the owner of the body may not be
aware of this distress until it becomes dangerous.

People working in hot conditions, for example fighting a fire, need to rehydrate at
approximately 1 litre per hour.

To prevent dehydration a person should drink between 8 -12 large glasses of water
throughout the day.

Ice cold water should be avoided as the body is using more energy warming the
water to body temperature before it can be absorbed. This is placing an additional
and unnecessary strain on your bodies over worked cooling system

Sports drinks with electrolytes can be taken but at a ratio of one sports drink to 10
plain water equivalents. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol cause dehydration.

Heat related conditions that will occur if fluids are not kept up to the body.

        Heat Exhaustion:


         Normal or below normal skin temperature
         Cool, moist, pale skin progressing to red skin
         Headache
         Nausea
         Dizziness and weakness
         Exhaustion
         Sweating
         Rapid, weak pulse

           Victim to rest lying down with legs slightly raised
           Loosen any tight clothing
           If conscious, give small drink of cold water
           If unconscious, place victim on side (recovery position) and care for
            airway, breathing and circulation.
           Call 000

        Heat Stroke


         Hot body temperature
         Red, hot, dry skin
         Progressive deterioration in conscious state
         Full, bounding pulse
         Rapid, shallow, noisy breathing

           Stop person from continuing any activity
           Cool the body
           Give cool, clear fluids if the victim is fully conscious
           Minimise shock

Cuts and Scratches:

There are many Health and Safety hazards within a disaster area, not only physical
hazards but chemical and biological hazards.

The chemical and biological hazards are a danger in relation to cuts and scratches.

Chemical hazards may cause burning or other skin irritations on unbroken skin. This
effect will be amplified on broken skin. The body’s unbroken skin, washed regularly,
generally protects from biological hazards.

Cuts and scratches need to be immediately cleaned and treated to prevent infection
or additional medical problems as a result of chemical or biological contact.

Irrigate the wound thoroughly and remove all foreign objects. Treat with an
antiseptic and cover to prevent the entry of dust, dirt and water. If it appears that
stiches or tetanus needle is required then immediately seek medical assistance.
Immobile the injured area and remove the patient from the hazard area.

Wildlife Hazards:

This is an area not given too much thought when people are assisting others after a

Unfortunately, animals (both domestic and wild) and insects have also been affected
by the same disaster. These creatures are more than likely as stressed if not more so
than the humans.

Animals and insects, like their human counterparts, are focused on removing
themselves from danger and surviving. Anything or anyone that gets between the
animal/insect and its bid for safety is seen as another danger. This is where human
may come off second best.

Beware of the potential dangers of stressed domestic animals seeking safety. Be
equally if not more aware of wild animals and insects seeking safety. Many stressed
wild animals particularly small animals like snakes, lizards, and spiders will seek
protection in high areas. You, as a human may be seen as that high area. Animals
and insects may seek warn, dry and dark locations, those found in buildings.

Many rivers, lakes, dams and billabongs of Northern Australia, along with the ocean
contain crocodiles. During normal weather periods these creatures generally stick to
known areas. Flooding expands the boundaries for the crocodile along with offering
a greater potential selection of food.

We have already mentioned the dangers of flood water in the sub section “Do not
walk through flood water”. Crocodiles are another reason that can be added to the

Alcohol and Drugs:

We all know that it is at the least a Traffic Offence to drive under the influence of
Drugs and/or Alcohol.

It has been proven that being under the influence of Drugs and/or Alcohol impairs a
person’s ability to operate machinery and their judgment.

Emergency workers, transport drivers, to name some, must have a ‘NIL’ alcohol and
drug level, by law, to carry out their duties.

 The hazards of a disaster area are such that an ability to physically coordinate one’s
self and to make sound judgements is essential. These abilities are not only
necessary for your safety but for the safety and wellbeing of those around you.


Safety and activities of Children:

Disasters and the resultant damage can been seen as a great adventure playground
for children. In many instances children can be seen walking or riding pushbikes in
and around hazardous areas, with little or no regard to their safety.

Parents, carers or guardians have a responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the
children in their care and this applies more so in a disaster.

Disasters create hazards not playgrounds for adventurist children. Parents, carers
and guardians MUST take adult responsibility for the children in their care.

Emergency workers have enough on their plates without needing to deal with
additional emergencies created by children hurt, lost or missing because of a failure
in adult supervision.

Know where you children are at all times for their safety.

Warning signs and Instructions:

As a result of a disaster, access to some areas within a city, towns, or a suburb will
have changed. Barriers and warning signs will appear for numerous reasons but
most will for the safety of the community.

These barriers and signs must not be disregarded. We have seen way to often where
people thought they knew better than the authorities and disregarded warning
signage with unfortunate consequences.

Instructions are given by the authorities for a valid reason. Again these instructions
are mostly aimed at ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the individual or the
community as a whole.

A failure to follow legal instruction from an authorised person, particularly in times
of an emergency can result in additional, expensive and unwanted legal problems
for those already struggling with what has happened.

Don’t be a hero:

Disasters create more than their fair share of hardship and despair for those caught
up in the event.

Then there is the worry for family and friends outside of the disaster area over the
safety and welfare of those within the disaster area.

When someone is in need of assistance it is human nature to help. But helping is one
thing, doing something dangerous and losing your life while helping is another thing.

Remember, your family needs you and they come first.




In the section “General Health and Safety”, sub sections, “Power Lines” and “Beware of damaged
structures”, the subject of Health and Safety in relation to Electrical Power has been covered.

This section will address some of the areas other than direct disaster Health and Safety power
issues. This section will look at man creating additional safety hazards due to his quest to have
electrical power after a disaster.

In many disastrous events it can near be guaranteed that two main utilities will be the first to cease
operating these being Power and Phone Communication.

Both of these utilities modern man takes for granted. Those residing in cities or towns do not suffer
the hardships of intermittent power or communication services that can be experienced in remote

There is very little in our modern society that does not have a reliance on electricity. In our homes
we rely of electricity for cooking, refrigeration, entertainment, communication and lighting. A loss of
electricity for a short time is a minor inconvenience. A short time being no more than an hour.

To lose power for an undetermined period due to disaster damage can be in itself to some families

Many teenagers will suffer, the TV doesn’t work, the mobile phones, iPod and laptop computer
cannot be charged and the desktop computer doesn’t work, no electric hair dryer and there is no
lighting at night. This may well cause family stress.

The fact that because of no electricity the fridge and freezer is thawing out and food is being spoiled
may be lost on some teenagers, but it will be a concern to parents and others relying on that food to
feed a family and for survival.

This inability for some to survive without electricity is one of the common causes of failure in
Electrical Safety and ultimately a danger to the individual, rescuers or the community.

       Extension leads running over the ground or looped over sharp edges of a fence, between
        neighbouring house with mains power or a generator.
       Power extension leads across driveways and other hard surfaces subject to traffic.
       Extension leads plugs on the ground susceptible to rain or water immersion.
       Multi outlet and overloaded power boards (fire hazards)
       Energised power leads from generators being plugged back into house power outlets
        (electrocution hazard)
       Electrical appliances being operated after water submersion
       Unauthorised and illegal house power box modifications to accept generators or over ride
        for solar power operation.
       Operating generators in confined areas with no adequate ventilation (Gas poisoning)

Electricity is an unseen and unforgiving energy that has the ability to silently kill and cause fire. Only
qualified electricians are authorised to work on electrical power supply and this will only happen in a
safe manner.

          SESSION FOUR


                      ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION and SAFETY

About asbestos

There are three main types of asbestos:

       Crocidolite or blue asbestos
       Amosite or brown asbestos
       Chrysotile or white asbestos

In Australia, all of the asbestos types were used in various applications up until the late 1960’s.
White and some brown asbestos usage continued until the early 1980’s, including in building

Asbestos was used because it was considered light, cheap and durable, with the added quality of
being a fire retardant. Because of this, asbestos product use in Australia was prolific, especially
during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s when its usage was at its peak. During this time, asbestos products
were regularly used in the construction of public buildings such as schools and hospitals, as well as in
office blocks, factories and homes. Many buildings even have asbestos sprayed into them for
acoustic and insulation purposes.

In Australia, most homes build before 1980 contain asbestos in some form.

Asbestoses can commonly be found in:

       Roofing
       Fencing
       Internal and external wall sheeting
       Behind stoves, heaters and radiators
       Flues on gas appliances
       Acoustic ceilings
       Gaskets
       Break and clutch linings
       Some paints and plasters
       Old telecommunication and electrical pits

When asbestos products deteriorate or are disturbed, dangerous minute asbestos fibres and dust,
that are frequently not visible to the naked eye, are released. When these particles are inhaled or
swallowed the asbestos fibres can lodge in internal organs and cause cancer many decades later.

Asbestos disease usually takes about two decades (20 years) or more to develop after asbestos
exposure occurs. Not everyone exposed to asbestos will develop an asbestos related disease. The
greater the exposure to asbestos, the greater the risk of disease. However, some people have
developed asbestos cancer after only a minor asbestos exposure.

There is therefore no safe level of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos can cause disease, such as:

       Mesothelioma

        This is an incurable cancer of the lining of the lung or stomach. Asbestos is the only know
        cause of mesothelioma.

       Lung cancer

        Asbestos exposure alone can cause lung cancer and smokers have 90% greater risk.

       Asbestosis

        This is usually associated with heavy asbestos exposure. It is not a cancer, but can be very
        debilitating and cause breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Asbestosis can progress
        even after asbestos exposure has ceased and can ultimately result in death because of the
        added strain placed on other organs

       Pleural plaques

        These are markings on the lining of the lungs and act as indicators of past asbestos exposure.
        Pleural plaque does not cause symptoms and is not necessarily a precursor for more serious
        asbestos disease.

       Gastrointestinal tract cancers

        Heavy asbestos exposure has been found to be related to some gastrointestinal tract
        cancers such as those affecting the larynx and oesophagus. Gastrointestinal tract cancer and
        asbestos exposure are not very common.

Is it Asbestos?

        If you are not sure leave it alone and contact the Councils Health Department or a licensed
        asbestos removal company.

        There are two classes of asbestos types:

                  Friable (Class A) is the classification given to any asbestos material found under
                  ground level as well as a few older form of insulation used in domestic heating,
                  stove and in ceiling insulation products. Ceiling insulation containing asbestos was
                  generally used in commercial buildings. In most cases, glass fibres have replaced
                  asbestos in today’s insulation products.

                  Bonded (Class B) is the classification given to asbestos in fibre-cement products. In
                  these products the asbestos is firmly embedded in a hardened matrix. The bonded
                  sheets are flat, corrugated or circular tubes.

       Removing Asbestos:

       This task if not carried out under strict Occupational Safety Guidelines is dangerous.

       Asbestos fibres pose a risk to not only the remover, fellow work mates and anyone in the
       area. The definition of area would depend on dust or fibre spread through wind strength and
       direction, the asbestos is being transported in flood or wash down water or carried on

       There are strict regulations in relation to the Personal Protection and Safe Handling of
       Asbestos. None of these requirement would normal be met by a Volunteer Community
       Member assisting in a disaster clean up or even a disaster affected home owner.

WARNING: Correct safety procedures and protection is paramount to prevent asbestos related



                                  POST TRAUMATIC STRESS

Disasters: Risk and Resilience Factors
Every year, millions of people throughout the world are affected by both natural and human-caused
disasters. These disasters may be floods, fire, cyclones, earthquakes, severe storms, explosions or
wars. In disasters people will face physical injury or death. People will lose homes, possessions and
whole communities may cease to exist. Such stressors place people at risk of physical and emotional
health problems.

Stress reactions after a disaster look very much like the common reaction seen after any type of
trauma. Disaster can cause a full range of emotional (mental) and physical reactions.

Risk factors

The severity of or length of direct exposure to a disastrous incident is one contributing factor that
determines the degree and recovery time from stress after a disaster.

        Severity of exposure

       At the highest risk are those that go through the actual disaster itself (the victims).
       The next highest are those in close contact with the victims.
       The lowest risk of lasting emotional impact are those who only had indirect exposure, such
        as those exposed to news of the disaster.

        Injured or having the feeling that their life was in danger, are the factors that lead most
        often to emotional (mental) health problems.

        Studies of severe natural disasters throughout the world found that at least half of the
        survivors suffered from distress or mental health problems that needed clinical care.

        Gender and family

                  Almost always, women and girls suffer more negative effects after a disaster than do
                   men or boys.
                  Disaster recovery is more stressful when children are present in the home.
                  Woman with spouses also experience more distress during recovery.
                  Having a family member in the home who is extremely distressed will create more
                   stress for everyone.
                  Marital stress has been found to increase after a disaster, and
                  Conflicts between family members or lack of support in the home make it harder to
                   recover from disasters.


                  People who are aged between 40 – 60 years are more likely to be distressed after a
                   disaster. Researchers believe this is because they have more demands from family
                   and work.

               The reaction by children to natural disasters is limited. Generally children show
                more severe distress after a disaster then that of an adult and high stress shown by
                parents usually equates to a longer recovery period for the children.

        Other factors specific to survivors

        There are other factors that may contribute to the recovery of a person after a disaster.
        Recovery may be extended if a person:

               Was not well before the disaster
               Has had no previous experience dealing with a disaster
               Needs to deal with other stressors after the disaster
               Has low self-esteem
               Believes they have little to no control over what has happened to them or their
               Lacks the capacity to manage stress.

        Outcomes may be amplified if:

               Bereavement is involved (death of someone close)
               Injury to self or a family member
               Threat to life
               Panic, fear or like feelings during the disastrous event
               Being separated from family (this applies especially to the young)
               Extreme loss of or damage to property
               Displace (being forced to leave their home or community)

Resilience factors

Human resilience dictates that a large number of survivors will naturally recover from a disaster over
time. They will move on without having severe, long-lasting mental health issues. Certain factors
increase resilience after a disaster.

        Social support

Social support is one of the keys to recovery after any trauma, including disaster. This support
increases well-being and limits distress. Being connected to others makes it easier to obtain
knowledge needed for disaster recovery. Through social support individuals and families can also

               Practical help solving problems
               A sense of being understood and accepted
               Sharing of trauma experiences
               Some comfort that what they went through and how they have responded is not
               Shared tips about coping.
               Assistance and direction to commence on the road to recovery


Better outcomes after a disaster or mass trauma are likely if people have one or more of the

               Optimism
               Expecting the positive
               Confidence
               Believing that it is very likely that things will work out as well as can be reasonably
               Belief that outside sources, such as Government, Service organisations and fellow
                community members are acting on their behalf with their welfare, health and
                recovery at heart.
               Practical resources such as, accommodation, food, clothing, household goods,
                money and legal assistance.

Post Traumatic Stress
There are few people in this world that can claim that they have been through a traumatic event and
not suffered from some level of Post Traumatic Stress.

PSD is a state a person goes through after experiencing a shock due to physical or mental trauma.
This is further explained in the first paragraph, “Risk and Resilience” of this section.

 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is categorised as an angst disorder, which lasts for 30 days or
even longer. It can be observed in individuals after a physical or a psychological trauma, or in some
cases a combination of both.

        PTSD: Signs and Symptoms.

        The victims of disaster are only one element that may be affected by PTSD. Another element
        that can be equally affected is those assisting the victims, so those assisting must be as
        aware of their emotional health and seek help if necessary.

                Some of the most common PTSD symptoms are:

                   Impulsivity or poor impulse control
                   Anger
                   Emotional detachment
                   Social withdrawal
                   Chronic anxiety and tension
                   Numbness
                   Hopelessness
                   Avoidance of people, things and places that are related to the traumatic
                   Depersonalization
                   Survivor’s guilt
                   Hyper-alertness
                   Relationship problems

                       Difficulty in concentrating
                       Exaggerated startle reflex
                       Difficulty falling asleep
                       Inability in remembering details of traumatic event
                       Decreased self-esteem

Although some with a post traumatic stress disorder might not be able to remember the specific
aspects of the trauma, others sometimes remember the trauma through flashbacks and nightmares.

         Seeking help

         Traumatic events can cause distress, not all feelings of distress are symptoms of PTSD.

                       People should talk about their feelings with friends or relatives.
                       If these talks are not helping, then a doctor and/or counselling services are the
                        next professional help step.

Information Source: United States, Department of Veterans Affairs – National Centre for PTSD

                    US National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health



                                    CHAINSAW SAFETY
Chainsaws dangers

Chainsaws are one of the most dangerous pieces of hand held equipment ever developed. The
operating chainsaw chain is an obvious danger.

       Untrained chainsaw operation (Danger)
       The head, hands, knees and feet are vulnerable to being severely injured through incorrect
        or improper use of a chainsaw engaged and operating (Danger and Health Risk)
       Constant use without hearing protection can lead to permanent hearing loss (Health Risk)
       Fire through fuelling a hot chainsaw (Danger)
       Exhaust poisoning if being operated in a confined space (Health Risk)

However, with safety awareness training, the correct protective clothing, modern chainsaws and
good work practices, the chainsaw can be used safely.

General safety precautions (check list)

Read the owner manual for the chainsaw model. (That’s where you learn the safety features and
correct operation.

       Check the saw thoroughly before use

             The bar
             The chain
             Working safety devices
       Service the chainsaw
       Always wear the correct Protective equipment
       Keep other people and animals well away from work area
       Do not start cutting until you have a clear work area, secure footing and a planned path of
       Have someone watching you when using a chainsaw
       Cut within your ability
       Cut within the saws size and ability
       Do not, become distracted. Chainsaw operation requires total focus
       Rest if tied

Chainsaw Maintenance

In an ideal world it would be nice to believe that the maintenance manual for the chainsaw would be
available. Unfortunately this is not always the case.

If you are unfamiliar with the components and features of a chainsaw, then it would be unwise and
unsafe for you to operate this dangerous piece of equipment. It is strongly suggested that you
allocated the task to someone who has the knowledge and skills to operate the saw and to carry out
the task safely.

       Before starting work, check,

              The machine is in good repair (no wear or damage)
              The throttle trigger, safety throttle lock and stop switch operate correctly
              The chain brake is operating correctly
              The chain is lubricated, sharp, tensioned correctly and on the right way
              The carburettor idle adjustment is correct

       After work or daily

       Clean the chainsaw

              The chain
              The bar and bar guide
              The air filter
              The sprocket
              Bar oil inlet
              Chain brake mechanism
              Saw body


              Sharpen or touch up chain
              Bar guide for burring or wear
              Anti vibration mounts on handle
              Chain sprocket for wear and security of “C’ clip

       Overhaul Service

       For correct, safe and long lasting operation it is wise that a chainsaw is professionally
       checked and serviced particularly after extended or heavy operation.

Preventing noise induced hearing loss

Most petrol operated chainsaws emit noise levels that can cause permanent hearing damage if used
without hearing for an extended period of time.

              Always wear Australian Safety Standards approved ear plugs or muffs
              Check that your ear muffs are serviceable and properly fitted
              Ensure the chainsaw is tuned to manufacture specifications
              Ensure the chainsaw exhaust system is serviceable

Personal Protective Equipment (Safety Gear)

              Safety Helmet (should be replaced every 3 to 5 years or if damaged)
              Visor or goggles (essential for eye protection from chips or dust)
              Ear muffs or plugs (Ensure that they are rated for the saws decibel level)
              Protective leggings (either pants or chaps with inserts of cut resistance ballistic
              Boots (ideally steel capped with non slip soles)

               Clothing (no loose objects, e.g. flapping belts, scarves, chains or jewellery that can
                be caught in the chain)
               Gloves (high grip and that allow feel of machine)
               First Aid Kit (as has been previously stated the chainsaw is dangerous and
                unforgiving in an accident)

Operational Safety Reminder

Kickback is one of the most common causes of chainsaw injuries outside of inexperience and

Experienced chainsaw operators have had instances of kickback and normally, because of their
experience, training and safety preparedness, have avoided personal injury.

Kickback is the sudden upward and backward movement of the saw. It occurs when the tip of the
bar nose contacts a log, branch, wire or nail.

        To prevent kickback injury

               Ensure the machine is fitted with a chain brake (ideally inertia activated)
               Ensure the brake mechanism is clean and operational
               Use low kickback chains
               Avoid lowering the depth gauges too much when sharpening
               Hold the chainsaw firmly with the left hand fully and correctly griping the top handle
               Avoid allowing the upper quadrant of the guide bar into contact with any foreign
               Wear safety head protection and pants at all times
               Don’t cut above shoulder height
               Never operate the saw in one hand
               Always hold saw by both handles
               Always begin you cut at peak saw revs

Preventing Reynaud’s Disease and Repetitive Strain Injury (R.S.I.)

Vibration from a chainsaw can cause damage to the hands if used for long periods at a time.
Reynaud’s Disease or” White Finger” produces numbness and burning sensations in the hand and
may cause nerve tissue and circulation damage.

R.S.I. or sometimes called Occupational Overuse Syndrome can involve persistent pain in the neck,
shoulders and arms.

               Ensure your chainsaw has anti-vibration mountings which isolate the engine from
                the handles
               If possible use a saw with ergonomically angled handles
               Take regular rest breaks from continuous operations
               Wear gloves
               Sharpen the chain regularly (this ensures smoother cutting and less vibration)

Preventing fires

              Don’t smoke while filling or operating the saw
              Refuel in a cleared area
              Refuel the saw only after the engine has cooled down
              Make sure the fuel cap is screwed on tightly and any fuel spillage is wiped off
              Move at least 3 metres away from the refuelling area before starting the saw
              Only use safety approved fuel containers
              Keep a fire extinguisher, knapsack, hose or spray pump or shovel nearby

Information Source: Work Cover NSW – Catalogue No WC00603


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