Disaster Preparedness Tips

Before a Disaster!

  • Prepare to be self-sufficient for at least three days by putting together an emergency kit, including:  non-perishable food, water, a flashlight, a portable, battery-operated radio or television, batteries, medicines, anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel, first aid kit, money, seasonal clothing, and sanitation supplies.
  • Conduct practice drills so you and your family know the safe locations in your home for each type of emergency.  Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend or relative that separated family members can call to report their whereabouts and conditions.
  • Learn first aid and CPR from your local Red Cross chapter or other community organizations.
  • Learn how to shut off gas, water and electricity in case the lines are damaged.
  • Make sure insurance coverage is up-to-date and reflects present property values. Check on flood insurance.
  • Compile an inventory of home contents. Take pictures and/or video. Store in a safe place.
  • Check chimneys, roofs, walls and foundations for stability. Make sure your house is bolted to its foundation.
  • Secure your water heater and major appliances, as well as tall, heavy furniture, hanging plants, picture frames and mirrors (especially those over beds). 
  • Make arrangements for pets.
  • Organize your neighborhood to be self-sufficient after a disaster.

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During a Disaster!

If you are evacuated:

  • Follow directions of  local officials. Carry your disaster supplies kit with you.
  • Unplug appliances, turn off electricity, gas, and main water valve.  (Safety note: do not attempt to re-light the gas pilot. Call the utility company.)
  • If time permits, elevate or move furniture to upper floors.
  • Tell someone outside of storm area where you are going.
  • Lock home and leave.

If you stay at home:

  • Listen constantly to a battery-powered radio or television.
  • Stay inside away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • If power is lost, turn off major appliances and keep refrigerators and freezers closed.

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After a Disaster!

Unless there is an immediate life-threatening emergency, do not attempt to use the telephone.
Be sure to:

  • Stay calm.  Check on neighbors, especially elderly or disabled.
  • Turn on your portable radio or television for instructions and news reports.  For you own safety, cooperate fully with public safety officials and instructions.
  • Use a flashlight to cautiously check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines.  If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source. Immediately report gas leaks to your utility company.  Check for downed power lines; warn others to stay away.
  • Check your home for cracks and damage, including the roof, chimneys and foundation.
  • Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency.  Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.  If you must drive, watch for downed power lines, flooded streets and highways and undermined roads.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both house and contents, for insurance claims.
  • When electricity is lost for several hours or days, frozen and refrigerated food may not be safe to eat.  Do not re-freeze thawed food.  Throw away all food that has been under flood waters, except canned food, but wash and sanitize the cans before opening.  All food that cannot be saved should be double-bagged for normal trash disposal or buried at least 2-feet deep.
  • Conserve water if your septic system is flooded.
  • If your system lost pressure, boil water for 3 minutes before consuming.
  • In warm weather, empty water out of birdbaths, tires, flower pots and other containers to limit mosquito larvae growth.

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Helping Children Cope With Disaster

Be aware that after a disaster, children are most afraid that....

  • the event will happen again.
  • someone will be injured or killed.
  • they will be separated from the family.
  • they will be left alone.

Children depend on daily routines.  In a disaster, they'll look to you and other adults for help.  How you react to an emergency gives them a clue on how to act.

Help them cope by:

  1. Tell children what you know about the disaster. 
  2. Explain what will happen next.
  3. Your children will realize that life will eventually return to normal. 
  4. If a child does not respond to the above suggestions, seek help from a mental health specialist or a member of the clergy.
  5. Plan to keep the family together, calmly and firmly explain the situation and encourage your children to talk!