Are You Prepared For A Disaster?

A disaster can strike quickly, without warning and can occur anywhere at any time. In our area a severe winter storm could confine you and your family to your home where you could lose electrical, water, gas and telephone services. A tornado or other severs storm could cut you off from these resources for days or even weeks. What would you and your family do in a case where these basic services are lost for any length of time? After a disaster has occurred local police, fire departments, etc. will be on the scene to help in such cases but they have no way of reaching everyone immediately. Depending on the situation help could take a matter of hours, but in severe conditions it could take days. Once a disaster happens you probably will not have the time or resources to purchase vital supplies that may be needed.

Will you and your family be prepared to handle such a situation and be prepared to deal with an emergency until help arrives?

Families can successfully handle a disaster by being prepared in advance and working together as a team. Following the tips located here can aide in you and your families preparedness in the event of a disaster. Read and apply this information to your own emergency disaster plan. Being prepared and knowing what to do is your best protection and is your responsibility.

General Information To Know

  • Learn and be aware of your community's warning signals; what they sound like and what you should do in the event that you hear them.
  • Find out about animal care after a disaster. In most places animals are not permitted inside of shelters due to health and safety regulations.
  • Find out how to help persons who are elderly or disabled.
  • Ask if there is a disaster plan in place at you business or place of employment, your children's school or daycare center, and other places where you and your family spend time.

Create a Disaster Plan

  • Hold a family meeting and discuss the reasons that you need to prepare for a disaster. Talk about the dangers of severe weather, fire, and other natural disasters that may apply. Have a plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team in the event of a disaster.
  • Talk about the disasters that are most likely to occur in your area and discuss what to do in each case.
  • If everyone is away from home, discuss a place to meet in the event that you cannot return to your home. In case of a fire, discuss where to meet outside the home.
  • Ask someone outside your immediate family (such as a family member in another state) to be a contact person in the event you and your family are separated.
  • Talk about what to do in the event of local evacuation. If you have pets, discuss how you are going to plan and take care of them.

Checklist

  • Post emergency phone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.)
  • Teach children when and how to call 911 or local emergency services.
  • Show your family how and when to turn off water, gas, and electrical at the main switches.
  • Learn or receive training from your local fire department in the use of fire extinguishers (ABC type), and how and where they are kept in your home.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors on each level of your home especially near bedrooms.
  • Make sure to stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
  • Determine the best evacuation routes from your home. Try and find at least two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.

Practice and Maintain Your Plan

  • Test your children every six months.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • Replace stored food and water every six months.
  • Maintain fire equipment according to manufacturers specifications.
  • Maintain and test your smoke detectors monthly. Replace or recharge batteries once a year.

Hazards at Home

During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Any items in your home that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is considered a home hazard. Inspect your home at least once a year to find and fix potential home hazards.

Evacuation

  • If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Listen to and follow the instructions given by local emergency officials that you receive on a battery powered radio or scanner.
  • Be sure to wear protective clothing.
  • Take your Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Lock your home.
  • Only use travel routes specified by local authorities- do not try and take short-cuts, these may be or may become impassable or dangerous.
  • If you are sure you have adequate time shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving. Make proper arrangements for any pets.

Utilities

  • Locate the main electrical fuse box, water service main, and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep all necessary tool near gas and water shut off valves.
  • Remember to turn off utilities only if you suspect that the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn off your gas, you will need to have a professional turn it back on.

In The Event of a Disaster

  • Remain calm and patient. Put the plan you developed into action.
  • Check for injuries; Give first aids and help for those injured.
  • Listen to your battery powered radio for news and instructions.
  • Evacuate if advised to do so.

Returning to Your Home

  • Check the damage of your home.
  • Use flashlights. Do not use matches or turn on electrical switches if damage is suspected.
  • Check for the odor of gas leaks starting at the water heater. If you detect the odor of gas, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and move everyone outside immediately.
  • Clean up any spilled liquids immediately.

Things to Remember

  • Secure and confine any pets.
  • Call your family contact - do not use the telephone again unless it is a life threatening emergency.
  • Check on the welfare of your neighbors, especially handicapped or elderly persons.
  • Ensure you have an adequate water supply in the event that service is cut off.
  • Stay clear of any downed power lines.