Surviving a Disaster - Tips for your family in the event of an earthquake, flood, forest fire, chemical spill or any type of disaster.November 17, 2006
Making plans could save your family’s lives during a natural disaster. Each week we will add a new tip that involves gathering some household items, doing a bit of maintenance around your home and educating your family about what to do in the event of an emergency.
Are you prepared Check List –
1 Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (one gallon of water per person per day) if a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).
2. Food - Keep a supply of non-perishable food handy, such as canned and dehydrated food, dried fruit, nuts and canned juices. Rotate periodically to keep them fresh. Remember a manual can opener.
3. First Aid – Have two first aid kits; keep a complete first aid kit in your home and car. Take a first aid and CPR class and be sure to post emergency telephone numbers (fire, police, ambulance) by the telephones.
4. Best Way Out. Take a moment to imagine that there is an emergency, like a fire in your home, and you need to leave your home quickly. What are the best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways out of each room. Now, write it down – you’ve got the beginning of a plan.
5. Know the emergency plans in your neighborhood – Find out where emergency shelters are located, identify the closest emergency services including police, fire, ambulance and hospitals and know your children’s schools emergency plans as well.
6. Arrange an out-of-the-area contact. Each family member should carry the contact phone number and address.
7. Teach Your Children -Tell your children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for help. Post other emergency telephone numbers by phones.
8. Make sure each family member knows how to shut off the utilities gas, electricity and water. (Don't shut off the gas unless there is a leak or a fire. If the gas is turned off, don't turn it on again... that must be done by a qualified technician).
9. Consider having one or more working fire extinguishers in your home. Many household fire extinguishers are "multipurpose" A-B-C models.
Get training from the fire department in how to use them. Also, extinguishers require routine care. Read your operator's manual to find out how it should be inspected and serviced.
10. Keep a flashlight and battery operated radio near your bed.
11. Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Make a complete inventory of your home. The inventory can be either written or videotaped. Include information such a serial numbers, make and model numbers, physical descriptions, and price of purchase (receipts, if possible).
12. Stash away a little cash for a true emergency-keep it in your disaster supplies kit in a safe and secure place at home so it is easy for you to access when you need it. This doesn't need to be an overwhelming task. We pay bills every month, consider your emergency funds among your debts and put a few dollars away for the future.
13. Get your house ready – Move or secure objects that could fall and injure people or start a fire, such as a water heater, heavy furniture, lamps and bookcases. Move beds away from heavy mirrors and windows.
14. Tie down your water heater and other appliances that could break gas or water lines if they topple. Kits Available at hardware stores.
15. Install flexible pipefitting where possible (water supply lines, toilets & washers) to avoid gas or water leaks.
16. Know what to do during an earthquake: DROP, COVER, and HOLD ON! If you are inside stay inside. Move away from windows, get under a heavy desk or table and hang on. If you are outside, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
17. Short-term power outages, such as those caused by storms, are inconveniences but with good planning, you and those you care about will get through it just fine.
- Keep a flashlight and batteries handy for emergency lighting.
- Turn off electrical equipment you were using when the power went out.
- Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer.
- If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system.
18. If a Winter Storm WARNING is issued...Avoid traveling by car, but if you must... Follow forecasts and be prepared when venturing out:
- Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk and have extra blankets on hand.
- Keep your car's gas tank full for emergency use and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your route.
19. After a disaster strikes – Do not call 911 for information (The system must be kept open for emergency calls) – Listen to radio or television for news or instructions. Call your family contact. Do not use the telephone again unless it’s a life-threatening emergency.
20. Help a neighbour who may require special assistance -- Infants, elderly people, and people with disabilities may require some extra help. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
21. Store flammable products and household chemicals (weed killers, pesticides) away from heat sources and where they can't spill. Keep them in a safe cupboard if they can't be stored in an outside shed.
22. Vital documents such as birth and marriage certificates, tax records, credit card numbers, financial records and wills can be lost during a disaster. Make two photocopies of these documents and keep the originals in a safe deposit box, keep one in a safe place in the house, and keep the second copy at another location.
23. Prepare your Work Place - You probably spend at least eight hours a day or more there, so have emergency supplies available both at home and at work. Remember that power may be disrupted and phone lines could be damaged, so familiarize yourself with your child's daycare and/or school emergency plan and establish arrangements for your children, if separated.
24. What to Keep or Discard After a Flood:
Remove and replace all insulation materials and other articles that have been soaked, including particleboard furniture, mattresses, box springs, stuffed toys, pillows, furniture coverings, paddings and cushions. Frames on high-quality furniture can often be salvaged after they’ve been disinfected and dried by ventilation away from direct sunlight or heat.
25. Evacuation Plan - If you have only moments before leaving, grab these things and go!
· Disaster supplies: flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, bottled water, prescription medications.
· Clothing and bedding: include a change of clothes for each family.
· Checkbook, cash, and credit cards.
· If there is time - Turn off electricity at the main fuse or breaker, and turn off water at the main valve. Leave natural gas on. Unless local officials advise otherwise.
26. Take steps to reduce home hazards:
- Repair deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations.
- Have a professional clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes,
connectors, and gas vents.
27. Learn about your community’s warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.
28. Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center and other places where your family spends time.
29. Find out what types of disasters are most likely to happen in your area. Request information on how to prepare for each.
30. Find an alternative place your children can go if they cannot reach home, such as a school, library, fire station, or other safe place.
31. Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
32. With your children, pick a safe place they can go to near your home if they need help right away.
33. Tell your children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for help. Post other emergency telephone numbers by phones.