Posts Tagged ‘Before an Emergency’


AccidentWe often hear in the news about communities and neighborhoods who are told to quickly evacuate because of a toxic chemical spill or other biological hazard that has happened nearby.  Highways and railroads are the means of carrying many toxic and hazardous substances that are necessary for the operation of our society.  Most cities have chemical storage areas that are used for water treatment and manufacturing.  After September 11, 2001, we have come to realize the threat of terrorists using chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological weapons.  What if there is no time to evacuate a large population?  It is extremely difficult to quickly evacuate large population areas because there are too many people and too few exists.  Evacuation is preferable when there is time, but if it isn’t an option, families can do what is called “sheltering in place” with some simple preparation.  This means that a family sets up a shelter in their own home.  In the event of an airborne biological or chemical hazard, you can seal your family indoors until the hazard blows through, usually in a matter of hours.  When you become aware of an emergency, turn on your emergency radio to know what to do for the particular situation.  Be sure you are listening to the official emergency station for your area.

Prepare in Advance

Select a shelter in place room.

An upstairs, interior room is preferable since many chemical hazards are heavier than air and travel along the ground.  Choose a single room large enough to hold air for all members of your family.  Include pets as well.  A full-size dog uses twice as much air as an adult and cats use half the air.  To determine air needs and occupancy, have everyone in the room stand with outstretched arms.  If they can do this without touching anyone else’s outstretched arms there is enough air for one hour.  An 8 foot by 6 foot typical bathroom holds enough air for 2 adults and a child under 6 years of age for one hour.

Gather a shelter in place kit.

  • 2 mil or Thicker Clear Plastic Sheeting – 250 sq. ft. (1 roll) or enough for the room you chose.  Pre-cut and label the plastic sheeting to cover doors, windows, vents, and light fixtures to save time.
  • 2 Rolls Duct Tape – Use medium grade or better to tape plastic sheeting in place and to cover all electrical outlets, fixtures, and other areas where air can seep in.
  • Sodium Hypochlorite Bleach (Standard Household Bleach) – Use bleach without any added scents or colors to wash anything that might have become contaminated by a biological agent.  Rotate often as standard bleach has a one year shelf life.
  • Battery Operated Emergency Radio or TV – Check  for official news as to when it’s safe to come out.
  • Personal Medications – Any medical items that are essential to survive for a few hours.
  • Flashlight or Battery Operated Lantern – It is possible you could lose power and light.  DO NOT use candles or open flames as they burn valuable oxygen.
  • Porta-Potty – Don’t flush the regular toilet as it displaces valuable air.
  • Coats, Blankets, Sleeping Bags, Etc.  – Items for staying warm without using a heating device that burns oxygen.
  • Air Filtering Masks.
  • Towels – Get damp and use to jam under door cracks.
  • Books, Games, or Other Diversions.
  • Cordless Telephone or Mobile Phone.
  • Food and Water.
  • Small step stool or ladder to reach ceiling fan, vents, or fixtures.

Have your kit prepared in advance.  You may not have time to prepare it during the emergency.

When the Emergency Happens
  1. Turn on the emergency radio or TV for official information.
  2. Turn off all mechanical or electrically operated air intakes or air exchanges to your home; the furnace, air conditioner, chimney flue dampers, and any fans.  There is a switch on or next to the furnace that you can flip to actually turn off your furnace.  Some thermostats have an actual “off” position for the furnace or A/C, but just turning down the thermostat isn’t enough — you have to TURN THE FURNACE OFF!  Do not take the time to get on your roof to cover vents and/or chimney openings.
  3. Close, lock, and secure your home (windows, doors, animal entries, etc.). Close windows, blinds, and drapes.
  4. Gather your family, pets, and emergency supplies into the selected shelter in place room.  Using the pre-cut and labeled plastic sheeting and duct tape, make the room as air-tight as possible.  While gathering your family, you can provide a minimal amount of protection to your breathing by covering your mouth and nose with a damp (not soaking wet) cloth or using an air filtering mask.
  5. Wet towels and jam them in the crack under each door in that room.
  6. Use pre-cut plastic sheeting and duct tape to cover windows, heat vents, light switches, power sockets, fireplaces, baseboard gaps (if the baseboards aren’t caulked), light fixtures, entire door frames, attic doors that might be in the room, and where pipes come in through the wall.  The precut plastic sheeting needs to fit entirely over the window and door frame so you are actually taping the plastic onto the interior wall and not the casing.
  7. Limit activity and air usage.
  8. DO NOT use water from the taps or flush toilets as this could displace valuable air.
  9. DO NOT use lanterns or candles which burn oxygen. If your power is still on, it is fine to use the electric lights.
  10. Use a 5% solution of bleach to wash down anything or anyone you think might have been contaminated by a biological agent.
  11. Stay inside the sealed shelter until you are told OFFICIALLY it is safe to leave.
  12. When you are OFFICIALLY told it is safe to come out, have one person use an air filtering mask or put a wet cloth over their mouth and nose and go open up all doors and windows, and turn on air exchangers and fans to air out the home.  Realize you may still need to stay indoors, quarantined, for a longer period of time.

Prepare beforehand and practice shelter in place procedures with your family.  You may not have time in the event of a real emergency to learn by trial and error.

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Heat WaveHEADLINE!  Heat Wave Knocks Out All City Utilities!  So…whaddya DO?

Just as in all preparedness plans, it is important to make your preparations before the emergency happens.  Make your home ready for hot weather emergencies by applying the concepts spoken of in previous posts about Emergency Sheltering.

Before the emergency, install an adequate number of attic vents to allow accumulated heat to be dispelled from your home.  Additionally, have energy rated and UV protective windows installed.  These measures will lower your utilities bills and help your home be cooler when the power is out.

During the heat wave emergency, look for & create cool rooms.  Choose rooms of the house as designated cool rooms where everyone will spend most of their time.  This saves on any limited resources you may have during the emergency situation.

  • Select rooms on the lowest level of the house.  Since heat rises, these will be the coolest rooms.  Following this principle, sleep with your mattress directly on the floor to be cooler by a few more degrees than you would be otherwise a few feet higher on the bed frame.
  • Select rooms with only north facing windows.  This will block the heat and light from the southern sun during the day and still allow for outside cool air at night.  Cover all windows, especially south and west-facing, with aluminum foil or Mylar blankets. Apply foil or Mylar directly to the windows, eliminating as much air between them as possible.  This not only blocks the light and heat of the sun, but reflects it away, preventing the heating up of inside air.  Keep all doors and windows closed during the day to keep out hot air, and then open upper level windows at night to let accumulated heat escape.
  • In dry climates, in addition to foil or Mylar, promote evaporation by hanging wet blankets or sheets in front of windows and doors.  As the moisture evaporates from the blankets, it creates a cooling effect.  Hospitals often do this during heat waves to keep their bed-ridden patients cool.  In extreme heat, sleeping in wet sheets and clothing can also help keep you cool.  Unfortunately, this does not work well in areas of high humidity where the surrounding air is already saturated with moisture, hampering evaporation.  Use caution when exerting yourself in these high humidity areas since sweating does not work very well either.  Be sure to limit your activities during the hottest part of the day.
  • Staying hydrated is important to help your body maintain its own cooling system.  Have plenty of stored water on hand to maintain your level of hydration.  If you have to cook to prepare your meals, which is a distinct possibility if the power is out and the freezer starts to defrost, cook outdoors to keep the heat out of the house.  Solar ovens are a great way to conserve fuel and use to power of the sun to your advantage.

Cold SnapHEADLINE!  Cold Snap Freezes All City Utilities!  So…whaddya DO?

Just as in all preparedness plans, it is important to make your preparations before the emergency happens.  Make your home ready for cold weather emergencies by applying the concepts spoken of in previous posts about Emergency Sheltering.

Look for & create a warm room.  Choose one room of the house as the designated warm room where everyone will spend most of their time.  This saves on any limited heating resources you may have during the emergency situation.

  • Select a room on the highest level of the house with a low ceiling.  Since heat rises, these will be the warmest rooms.  The low ceiling will hold the heat closer to where you need it to stay warm.
  • Select a room with south-facing windows.  This will allow the direct sunlight to help provide heat during the day to your room.  Keep all house windows clear & clean during the day to allow as much solar radiation in as possible.  Think about turning your home into a make-shift solar oven.
  • Insulate your windows with clear plastic sheeting.  This allows sunlight in during the day, but creates an insulative layer of trapped air to hold in heat.  The distance between the plastic sheeting and the window should be about one inch.  Be sure no air can escape from between the plastic and the window.  Use duct tape the seal off any drafts.  At night use curtains, blankets or other insulative materials draped over windows to help hold in the heat.
  •  Isolate and insulate your warm room from the rest of the house.  Again you only want to warm as few areas as possible to conserve your heating supplies.  Cover doors, under doors and other openings with blankets or towels.  Don’t forget to leave some ventilation to allow oxygen into the room for breathing, especially if using heaters, candles, or other indoor safe supplies that consume oxygen.
  • Make a “nest” or a room within your warm room.  Use small tents, blankets, couch cushions, etc. to isolate and insulate your nest and make it even warmer than the larger warm room.  Couch cushions just like the fort you made as a kid are excellent for insulation.
  • Get cozy with the family.  Radiation from body heat can be used to keep each other warm and warm the inside of the nest.  Get Mom, Dad, the kids, Grandma, and Grandpa all together in the same nest.  Sleep together inside the same tent, even in the same bed or sleeping bag if possible.
  • Eat high calorie foods and stay hydrated to generate heat from your metabolism, the process of breaking down food into energy.  When possible, eat hot, simple to prepare meals to help in maintaining your body temperature.
  • Use indoor safe heaters, fireplaces, or wood stoves.  There are many commercially available alternative fuel heaters that are safe to use indoors.  Be sure to allow a sufficient supply of oxygen to enter into your room and check the manufacture’s guidelines to know how to safely use your device.  Keep a ready supply of fuel for your heater or fireplace.

Don’t forget the dangers of Carbon Monoxide (CO).  Don’t use fuel burning camp equipment indoors.  Don’t use gas appliances like the oven, stove or dryer to heat your home.  Don’t use gas-powered tools indoors (generators, etc).  Large propane bottles are never to be indoors so have a long enough hose to allow the bottle to stay outside while the indoor safe heater is inside.  Check the manufactures directions for safe operation.


  1. EarthquakeFireAccidentSnow StormHurricaneFood
  2. Water
  3. Sanitation
  4. Shelter
  5. First Aid
  6. Cooking
  7. Light
  8. Communication
  9. Personal Items & Clothing
  10. Important Papers & Money

 All ten things need to be planned for, for every emergency, even though these items may apply differently in different situations.


Kit must be small enough to fit in a desk or locker.

Water

Food

Shelter & Warmth

Cooking

  • Unnecessary

Light

First Aid

Communication

Hygiene & Sanitation

Clothing & Personal Items

Important Papers & Money

  • Child ID Tag with Emergency Contact Info, Family Picture & Medical Info
  • Small Bills & Change


Lightning Hit

How safe is YOUR home?

GENERAL HAZARDS
YES
NO
Are flashlights and spare batteries easily accessible in the event of a power outage?  Flashlights are safer than candles.
Are step stools with handles or ladders used to reach high objects?
Are emergency numbers posted next to every phone? (911, Poison Control 1-800-222-1222, Work, School, Day Care, Out of State Emergency Contact, etc.)
Are there First Aid Kits that are easily identifiable, labeled and easily accessible around the house?  Does everyone know where they are?
Do all responsible people know basic first aid and how and when to use the first aid kits?
Do all responsible people know how and when to use a fire extinguisher?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Does everyone have their own, personalized, portable 72 Hour Kit stored in an easily accessible location like the front door closet?
Are all emergency kits checked, inventoried and expired items rotated every six months?
Is there enough food and water stored to last everyone in the home a minimum of one month?
Is there a sanitation kit with supplies to last at least a month if the water and sewer are not functioning?
Are there extra blankets and a safe means of warming the home if the power and gas go out?
Is there a family emergency communication plan?  Does everyone have a copy and know how it works?
Are copies (not the originals) of all important documents kept outside the home in a safe deposit box or trusted family member’s safe?
FIRE HAZARDS
Do you keep your lighters and matches locked, out of the reach and sight of children?
Do you keep lighters and matches away from heat sources like stoves or heaters?
Do you make sure lighters, matches, candles and smoking materials are “cold out” before disposing of them, leaving the home or going to bed?
Do you make sure candles are sitting on a non-combustible base and are away from curtains, lamp shades, plants, decorations and children when burning?
Do you have plenty of large non-combustible candle bases or ashtrays in every room?
Is “NO SMOKING IN BED” a rule in your home?
DETECTORS AND DRILLS
Do you have a smoke detector on every floor and inside or near every bedroom properly installed?  Does everyone know what it sounds like?
Do you have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every floor properly installed?  Does everyone know what it sounds like?
Do you test your smoke and CO detector monthly and change batteries twice a year?  Are detectors replaced every 10 years?
Do you have a fire extinguisher mounted outside each room that contains a serious heat source? (furnace room, kitchen, water heater, laundry/shop area, etc.)
Do you, your children & babysitter know how and when to call 9-1-1?
Do you have an escape plan from every room in your home?
Have you practiced that escape plan by holding fire drills in your home twice each year?  Have you practiced it at least once while everyone was asleep?
Is there a plan to help young children or the elderly who may sleep through an alarm?  Is a person designated to help?
Does everyone know at least two escape routes from every room?
Do upper floor rooms have an emergency ladder or other means of escape?
Is there a designated place to meet a safe distance from your home?
UTILITIES HAZARDS
Do you allow only qualified electricians to install or repair your wiring?
Do you have enough electrical outlets in every room to avoid the need for multiple plug attachments or long extension cords?
Do responsible people know how to reset breakers or replace fuses?  If you blow fuses or breakers often in your home, you need an electrician.
Are all extension cords in the open — not run under rugs, furniture, over hooks or through partitions or door openings?
Do all outlets and switches have properly fitting face plates?
If there are children, are safety caps installed over electrical outlets?
Are bulbs the correct wattage for the lamps of light fixtures in which they are used?
Too many appliances using the same outlet can cause a fire.  Are outlets used properly?  Are surge protectors used?
Do you have your heating system inspected and serviced before heating season begins?
Do you have all flue pipes, vent connectors, gas vents and chimneys inspected each fall and cleaned and repaired if necessary?
Are wood floors under stoves and heaters protected by insulation or ventilated airspace?
Do you always turn off portable or gas heaters when you go to bed?
Do you always keep a window slightly open in rooms where gas or oil heaters are being used?
Is the water heater set to 120º F or below to prevent scalding?
Is the water heater securely mounted to wall studs with sturdy earthquake straps and connected with a flexible gas hose?
Do all responsible people know how, when and where to turn off main water, gas and electricity to the house?
KITCHEN HAZARDS
Are loose clothing, curtains, potholders or other combustibles near cooking ranges or heating equipment arranged so as to not fall or blow over the heat source?
Do you keep your range, its oven and broiler, clean of grease?
Has everyone been warned not to wear loose-fitting clothing near a kitchen range?  Loose garments may catch on fire.
Are pot holders used when cooking?
Are children kept away from the range when cooking?
Do all appliances have an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark or stamp?
Are dangerous products labeled and stored in different areas from food, beverages and medicines?
If there are children, are product safety caps and cupboard locks used?
Are cupboard locks used to prevent cupboards from opening in the event of an earthquake?
Is heated food temperature tested before given to young children?
BATHROOM HAZARDS
Are there non-slip surfaces or adhesive strips in bathtubs and showers?
If there are elderly or disabled, are grab bars installed near toilets and in bathtubs and showers?
Do bath mats have non-slip bottoms?
Are bathroom floors kept clean and dry?
Are there nightlights in bathrooms?
When children use the sink or tub, is an adult within arms reach?
If there are children, are toilet seat locks properly installed?
Are medicines and cleaners kept in their original containers with labels and kept separate from each other?
If there are children, are medicines, cosmetics and cleaners locked in cabinets?
Are electrical appliances kept away from water and unplugged and put away after using?
Do all electrical outlets in bathrooms and near water use a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent shock?
DOOR AND WINDOW HAZARDS
   
Do all exterior doors and windows have locks?    
Do windows and doors unlock and open easily from the inside?    
Do “dead-bolt” locks have a “thumb-turn”, not a “key” inside lock?  A missing key could trap you inside.    
Are all doors and windows kept locked when not in use?    
Are windows made of tempered safety glass?    
Do security bars have an inside release latch?  Does everyone know how to use it?    
Are window blind cords up high out of reach of children?    
Window blind cords should not have a loop.  Has the loop been cut in two pieces?    
If there are children, do upper windows have window guards to prevent falling out?    
STAIR AND HALLWAY HAZARDS
   
Are stairs, doorways and escape routes kept clear?    
Are rugs and carpets secured to the floor or removed?    
Are stairways adequately lit at the top and bottom?    
Are there nightlights and emergency lights in hallways and along emergency escape routes?    
If there are children, are there gates at the top and bottom of stair cases?
Do hand rails go completely from the top to the bottom of the stairs?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
HOME OFFICE HAZARDS
Is home office equipment unplugged when not in use?
Is home office equipment and supplies out of children’s reach or safely locked away?
Does the paper shredder have safety features and is it unplugged when not in use?
Are file cabinet drawers kept closed when not in use?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Is a smoke detector installed and checked regularly?
Are emergency numbers posted by the phone?
YARD & GARAGE HAZARDS
   
Do you keep your yard cleared of leaves, debris, and combustible rubbish?
If any of the surrounding property is vacant, have weeds, dry leaves, and rubbish been cleared away?
If your garage is attached to the house, is there a tight-fitting door which is always kept closed?
Is gasoline only used as a fuel for motors?
Is gasoline stored in a container that is designed specifically for gasoline and stored out of sight and out of reach of children?
Do you warn your family never to use gasoline, benzene or other flammable fluids carelessly near visible or hidden open flame or for cleaning?
Are children kept away from BBQ grills during cooking?
Are gas BBQ grills checked for leaks before each use and stored with the gas disconnected after each use?
Do swimming pools have a fence with a self-locking gate?
Are adults always present when children are in or near water?
Are large buckets stored upside down so as not to collect water?
Are stairs, porches and walkways well lit?
Do stairs have hand rails?
Are ladders put away, locked and stored on their side so children cannot climb on them and intruders cannot use them?
Are stairs kept clear of tripping hazards?
If there are young children, is a safety gate used to prevent falls from the deck or porch?
Is there 9 to 12 inches of mulch, wood chips or safety material under playground equipment?
Are tools, chemicals, car fluids, pesticides and lawn and garden products put away after use and kept out of reach and out of sight of children?
Is garden equipment stored where children cannot reach it?
Are sharp tools stored pointing downward?
Are shelves bolted to the wall and items on shelves secured so as not to topple in an earthquake?
Is the garage clean from dust, webs and trash, which can interfere with the electrical system?
Does the automatic garage door opener have an auto-reverse feature that prevents trapping people or pets?
Do garage and shed doors have locks?  Are they used?
Are tools, toys and equipment not left in the yard where they can be stolen or be possible hazards in an emergency?
Are electric generators, BBQ grills and gas powered tools only used outside?
Is the house number visible from the street, day and night?
Much of the information was obtained from http://www.homesafetycouncil.org
http://www.survivalsolutions.com

WaterWilderness Breakdown
Food
Shelter & Warmth
Cooking
Light
First Aid
Communication
Hygiene & Sanitation
Clothing & Personal Items
Important Papers & Money
  • Emergency & Non-Emergency Numbers
  • Emergency Family Contacts:  Phone, Address & E-mail
  • Home, Work, School, Day Care, Out of Area, Out of State
  • Local Maps with Evacuation Routes, Home, Work, School, Family Meeting Places
  • Currant Copies of Family Photos & IDs
  • Personal Medical Information
  •           Medical Providers
  •           List of Medications
  •           Special Medical Equipment
  •           Medical Conditions
  •           Vaccinations
  •           Blood Type
  •           Allergies & Sensitivities
  •           Health Insurance
  • Emergency Cash
  • Coins for Pay Phones
Auto Kit Specifics