Archive for the ‘During an Emergency’ Category


Tornado Emergency

Care for yourself, your family & your neighbors.

  • Before
  1. Learn & Plan
  2. Prepare
  3. Practice
  • During
  1. Remain Calm
  2. Gather Information
  3. Think
  4. Act
  5. Help
  • After
  1. Help
  2. Talk About It
  3. Resume Normal Life

You’ve prepared.  You’ve planned.  You have your emergency kits in order and they are ready to go.  You’re staying calm & you’re continually gathering information about the emergency you are now facing.  With that information you are adapting your emergency plans to this specific emergency.  So you have your plan of action, now DO IT!  This is the time that you hoped wouldn’t come, but you prepared for any way.  Don’t hesitate.  Seconds of delay could mean the difference between life and death.  Get going!

You First

Now that the emergency is here, who do you take care of first?  YOURSELF!  Just like they tell you on the airplane, put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on your child.  That sounds selfish, but think about it.  How can you care for your child or any other person if you are incapacitated?  Look after your own health and safety FIRST so that you CAN help others.  YOU are your first priority, your family is your second, neighbors and the community are third.

10 Areas of Emergency Preparedness

As you follow your plan, continue to assess the situation and change the plan as needed.  One of the greatest factors in survival is adaptability.  Remember the ten areas of emergency preparedness:

As you adapt your plan to THIS emergency, think about these ten things and how your preparations before hand and your current resources can be used for you and your family.  Your first thoughts should be on SHELTER.  Find shelter from extreme temperatures, elements and physical danger, ie…  escaping from a burning building, shelter from a severe thunderstorm or tornado, car breakdown or lost, earthquake or hurricane, terrorism or intruder.

Because of the nature of emergencies, even the most prepared and self reliant of individuals can find themselves needing help.  In the case of injury, misjudgment or just happenstance that puts us beyond our own means we will need to communicate our needs to others.  That may be verbally or by calling 911, blowing on an emergency whistle or banging on something.  It may require making a signal fire or using a signaling mirror.  The important thing is to make contact and let someone know you need help.

Help Others

After securing yourself and your family, depending on the size and scale of the emergency there are going to be a lot of people that need your help.  Take a volunteer emergency training class like CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) now to learn how to safely and effectively help others in a large scale emergency.

Look at your neighborhood.  You know there are a lot of people who take emergency preparedness for granted or even dismiss it all together.  There are others like you who seriously try to prepare their families for a possible disaster.  If there is a large scale incident, it won’t discriminate between the prepared and the unprepared, everyone is going to be needed to help everyone else.  Think about your neighborhood.  Are there any elderly or people who have difficulty moving unassisted?  Are there any families with many children or who have special needs or disabilities?  Talk to them now and discuss what help they may need in an emergency.

First Aid:  Check, Call, Care

After you have taken care of yourself and your family, is there anyone around that needs first aid?  When you go to help, remember to check the environment around the victim for hidden dangers.  You don’t want to become a second victim and double the problem.  After checking the environment, check the victim to determine what is wrong.  Call for available help and give care to the victim as far as you have been trained.

In an emergency situation, you do what you need to do to help you, your family and those around you to survive the duration.  After the emergency, working together, you can rebuild and return to normal life as quickly and completely as possible.

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  • Before
  1. Learn & Plan
  2. Prepare
  3. Practice
  • During
  1. Remain Calm
  2. Gather Information
  3. Think
  4. Act
  5. Help
  • After
  1. Help
  2. Talk About It
  3. Resume Normal Life

The emergency has just happened. You are remaining calm and you are gathering information about the incident. Now you need to think about how to best apply the information you have for the situation you are facing.

Time

One of the scarcest commodities in during an emergency is time. You probably don’t have much when you are gathering information and determining how you are going to use it. Use it wisely. Even though the time for emergency planning is over, you do need to QUICKLY think about how you are going to apply your plans to this situation. How much time do you have before you have to evacuate? This may determine what you can take with you and what additional security precautions you can take. How much time do you have before the hurricane or tornado arrives? This may determine where you can shelter or evacuate to.

Instructions from Authorities

What instructions have you received from the authorities? Did they tell you to shelter in place? Depending on the emergency, are you just staying where you are or do you need to find a safe room to shelter in? How are you best going to do that?
Did the authorities tell you to evacuate? Did they tell you what routes to take or to avoid? Can you take the car or the RV, or are you on foot or bike? What can you take with you? What has to be left behind? How are you best going to do that?

Location of Supplies

Think about the location of your previously stored emergency supplies. Can you get to your 72 hour kits or your first aid kit? Is your food and water storage easily accessible? What about your camping supplies or your sanitation supplies? Is the fire escape ladder where you need it? Can you use your flashlight or is there a gas leak and you need to use your glow stick? Where are they?

Available Resources

What resources are available that you can use to ensure your safety, your family’s safety and the safety of your neighborhood? Are there resources for sandbags? Are there chain saws and pry bars for clearing debris? Can you use a sheet, table cloth or curtain to make a bandage? What do you have to make a splint? Is there a door you can use for a backboard? What is there around you that you can fashion into a makeshift shelter for you and your family? Remember that people are resources as well. Does anyone have medical training? Is anyone a HAM radio operator? Are there any people trained in CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)? People can accomplish more working together rather separately.

Decide How to Act

You need to decide how you and your family are going to react and respond to the situation you are facing. If you have preplanned and practiced your emergency plan, this should be very quick and easy. Are you going to evacuate out the door or a window? Are you going to do CPR or the “chin tilt”? Are you going to evacuate west to the public shelter or north to your sister’s city? Are you going to shut off the gas and the water?

Whatever emergency you are facing and whatever your emergency plan, your plan needs to be flexible as you get more information and as your situation changes. You don’t have much time, but you need to take a quick moment to decide how to best implement your emergency plans. Remember to consider how much time you have, what instructions you have received, what supplies you have and what resources are available. After you have made your plan, ACT on it.


  • Before
  1. Learn & Plan
  2. Prepare
  3. Practice
  • During
  1. Remain Calm
  2. Gather Information
  3. Think
  4. Act
  5. Help
  • After
  1. Help
  2. Talk About It
  3. Resume Normal Life

Once an emergency happens, other than staying calm, the first thing we need to do is gather information.   Quickly gather as much information as possible about the situation.

What we need to know

WHAT IS THE EMERGENCY?  Nothing is scarier than facing an unknown threat.  The more you know what you are facing, the better you will be able to respond to the situation.  The noise that woke you up, is it an earthquake?  An intruder?  A house fire?

WHAT SIZE IS THE EMERGENCY?  Is it just affecting you?  Your family?  Your neighborhood?  City?  State? Nation?

WHAT AREAS ARE AFFECTED? Is it in our room or the basement?  Our house or the neighbors? Our neighborhood or three blocks north?  Which city?  Which state?  Nation?

HOW SEVERE IS THE EMERGENCY?  Is it a category 1 tornado or a 5?  Is it a 2.5 scaled earthquake or an 8.5?  Is it a first degree burn or a third?  Heart burn or a heart attack?

HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO RESPOND?  Do I have seconds to escape my burning house?  Is there minutes before the tornado arrives?  Do I have hours before the wildfire reaches my house?  Days before the hurricane arrives?

WHAT IS THE ESTIMATED DURATION OF THE EMERGENCY?  Minutes?  Hours?  Days?  Weeks?  Longer?

WHAT DO COMMUNITY LEADERS AND EMERGENCY RESPONDERS WANT US TO DO?  Do they need volunteers?  Do we evacuate or shelter in place?  If we evacuate, which route do we take?  Is it safe to drink the incoming water?

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS?  Are the kids at school?  How are they?  Are they sheltering at the school or are they coming home?  Can Mom and Dad make it home from work?  Are they ok?  Is Fido still in the backyard?

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF MY NEIGHBORS?  Does the old couple across the street need help?  How about the single mother of 4 two houses down?

How we gather information

What’s the first source of emergency information you think of?  Probably the Emergency Alert System (EAS).  The EAS was created from the old national Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) that was developed during the cold war to alert in case of a nuclear attack.  The EAS is now used and controlled in your local area to alert in time of emergencies, natural and manmade.  It is also used for Amber Alerts.  All television and radio stations are required by the FCC to broadcast EAS alerts in the event of an emergency.  Be aware that oftentimes news organizations are more concerned with being first with information than being accurate with information.  If possible, use more than one or two sources to get a more complete picture of what is happening.  Have a battery operated radio you can use if the power goes out.  Also listen to the Nation Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather channels.  An emergency alert radio that automatically turns on in the event of an emergency is a good safe guard for your family.

If there is time, local authorities and police may drive down the streets broadcasting the emergency information through loud speakers or going door to door.

Some communities even have what is called “Reverse 911”.  Instead of YOU calling emergency dispatch, an automated message is sent from dispatch to all the land phones in the affected area.  Mobile phones and unlisted phones are not called unless users signup to be part of the service.

On a personal level, we have five senses to help us gather information as well.  Look around and SEE what is going on.  LISTEN not only to the radio and television, but to family members and neighbors.  Listen for sounds that may signal impending dangers.  SMELL can sometimes tell us about hazards, like natural gas leaks, that may be difficult to see or hear.  Our sense of TOUCH can tell us if a door is warm, signifying fire on the other side; or if a piece of debris on the ground may not be stable to stand on.  TASTE can tell us if water or food is not safe to consume.

There are many ways to gather information in an emergency.  Use as many as you are able to, as quickly as possible so you know what you are facing and how to respond.


  • Before
  1. Learn & Plan
  2. Prepare
  3. Practice
  • During
  1. Remain Calm
  2. Gather Information
  3. Think
  4. Act
  5. Help
  • After
  1. Help
  2. Talk About It
  3. Resume Normal Life
Rule of Threes or Fours

In his book When All Hell Breaks Loose, author Cody Lundin talks about his “Rule of Threes or Fours”.  If you panic, you could be dead in 3 to 4 seconds.  If you have no oxygen, you could be dead in 3 to 4 minutes.  If you have no shelter, you could be dead in 3 to 4 hours.  If you have no water,  you could be dead in 3 to 4 days.  If you have no food, you could be dead in 3 to 4 weeks.  If you fall apart as a group, you could be dead in 3 to 4 months.

All of these things are necessary for survival, but it all starts with remaining calm.  If we panic, we just make a bad situation worse for ourselves, our family and those around us.  I often give the fictitious example of driving down a highway and a bee flies in the open window.  Even though there is a potential for some pain from a sting, things can get a lot worse than a sting if we panic.  Losing control can result in much worse problems than a sting, for us, for those in the vehicle and those in other vehicles.

Kindergarten

Remember what you learned in Kindergarten.  Be courteous to others.  Everyone is going through what you are going through and everyone will have concerns.  Be patient.  Don’t yell.  Don’t hit.  Keep your head.

Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health.  One reason we practice emergency preparedness beforehand is so that our mind can start to comprehend what we could be facing and knowing we CAN survive.  Remember your preparations and training.  You CAN get through this.  Preparation IS peace or mind.