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Disaster preparedness

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 8 months ago


What would you do if basic services — water, gas, electricity or telephones — were cut off? What if you couldn’t get to work or to the store?


In crisis situations, local officials and relief workers are usually on the scene to help quickly, but they can’t do it all. People who know how to reach their families and are confident in the readiness of their home and loved ones are more likely to help emergency response efforts, rather than add to the stress of the situation. Preparedness planning and education are just as critical in creating a sense of confidence and empowerment at home and in our communities as they are at work.


Build a Family Disaster Plan


Find out what could happen.



  • Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office, American Red Cross chapter or Community Emergency Response Team. Be prepared to take notes.
  • Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information about how to prepare for each.
  • Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.
  • Ask about animal care after a disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters due to health regulations.
  • Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
  • Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare center, and other places where your family spends time.


Create a disaster plan.



  • Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for a potential disaster.
  • Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children.
  • Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
  • Pick two places to meet: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number of this location.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your family contact. After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Obviously, everyone must know this contact's phone number.
  • Discuss what to do in the event of an evacuation.
  • Plan how to take care of your pets.


Complete an emergency preparedness checklist.



  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local emergency medical services number for help.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Conduct a home hazard hunt.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supplies kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.


Practice and maintain your plan.


  • Quiz your children every six months so they remember what to do.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguishers according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.


Assemble an Emergency Supplies Kit


Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Also assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or covered trash containers. Supply kit elements include:



  • A minimum of a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil, such as ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and soups; protein or fruit bars; dry cereal or granola; peanut butter or nuts; dried fruits; crackers; canned juices; canned or jarred baby foods and formula; and pet food
  • Changes of clothing and footwear, and blankets or sleeping bags for each person
  • A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications
  • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
  • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
  • An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses
  • Important family documents in a waterproof container


In case of a quarantine or social distancing situation, you may need to remain in your home for up to two weeks or longer. Therefore, you may want to increase your emergency supplies to accommodate this possibility.


Neighbors Helping Neighbors


Working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbor's special skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.


If Disaster Strikes


  • Remain calm and patient; put your plan into action.
  • Check for injuries. Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
  • Check for damage in your home.
  • Use flashlights. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches if you suspect damage.
  • Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and get everyone outside quickly.

Shut off any other damaged utilities.

  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids immediately.
  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact. Do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Listen to your battery-powered radio for news and instructions. Evacuate if advised to do so.


If Evacuation Is Necessary


  • Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
  • Wear protective and sturdy shoes.
  • Take your disaster supplies kit.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.


If you're sure you have time:


  • Shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving if instructed to do so.
  • Post a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Make arrangements for your pets.



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