Disaster Response

Get clinical answers to frequently asked questions about disaster response.
  • What are appropriate steps to restoring OR operations after a power outage and flooding?
    1. Perform an environmental assessment by a multi-disciplinary team including:

      1. Infection Preventionist

      2. Facility Plant Engineer

      3. Nursing

      4. Sterile Processing Department Manager

      5. Management

    2. Assess environmental cleanliness:

      1. Condensation on surfaces (eg, walls, flooring)

        • Terminally clean room to remove condensation on walls or flooring.

      2. Condensation or any signs of water damage on sterile packaging

        • Reprocess or discard any sterile items with condensation or suspected water damage.

      3. Flooding or water damage

        • Collaborate with multi-disciplinary team on an infection control risk assessment (ICRA) and renovation plans.
        • Follow CDC recommendations for cleaning of floodwater.

    3. Assess power supply: Fully restored or on emergency generator?

      1. Operate essential equipment from emergency power outlets (red).

      2. If flooding occurred, work with facilities plant engineer to assess electrical safety and biomedical engineer to evaluate electrical equipment.

    4. Assess HVAC system:

      1. Air exchanges restored?

        • Do not resume elective procedures until minimum air exchanges met.

      2. Temperature within acceptable range?

        • Do not resume elective procedures until temperature within range

      3. Humidity less than 60%?

        • Do not resume elective procedures until humidity within range and assess for condensation.

      4. If flooding occurred, work with multi-disciplinary team to follow CDC recommendations for cleaning air ducts and vents prior to turning on HVAC system.

    5. Assess water supply.

      1. Water pressure and quality

        • Do not perform procedures until water is functioning or if water supply is contaminated.

      2. Steam supply lines

        • Do not perform procedures until steam is functioning.

    6. Perform quality check on steam sterilizers and automated cleaning equipment before returning to service.

    7. Terminally clean operating rooms.

      1. If flooding occurred, follow CDC recommendations for cleaning of floodwater.

    8. Inventory and record discarded damaged supplies for insurance claim purposes and to obtain replacements.


    • Lessons Learned from Hurricane Ike. AORN Journal. 2009;89(6):1073-1078.

    • Mitchell, L.Flood water after a disaster or emergency. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.asp. Accessed November 19, 2012.

    Updated November 19, 2012