Prepare yourself for emergencies
April 30, 2009 · Updated 3:00 PM
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephones were cut off?
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
Find Out What Could Happen to You
Contact your emergency management office before a disaster occurs. Be prepared to take notes.
Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen including natural and those related to terrorism. Request information on 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 are not allowed inside emergency shelters because of health regulations.
Find out how to help elderly or disabled person, if needed.
Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or day care 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 disaster. 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:
1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
2. Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.
Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
Complete This Checklist
Purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration "All Hazards" radio for emergency alerts.
Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1.
Show each family member how and when to turn off the utilities (water, gas, and electricity).
Get training for each family member on 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.
Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
Take a first aid and CPR class.
Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster and learn shelter-in-place procedures.
Practice and Maintain Your Plan
Quiz your kids every six months or so.
Conduct fire and emergency evacuations.
Replace stored water and stored food every six months.
Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
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.
Listen to your battery-powered radio for news and instructions
Check for damage in your home
Use flashlights. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
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. (You will need a professional to turn gas back on.)
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately.
Confine or secure your pets.
Call your family contact, but 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.