Posts Tagged ‘disaster’


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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  • 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

 

When making preparations for an emergency, we usually just think about surviving the ordeal, not recovering from the incident.  After large-scale disasters like September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, we have seen communities and the entire nation come together and help those in need.  Emergency responders and other volunteers leave family and home to travel to the other side of the country to render assistance.  Neighborhoods, churches, and business donate time and money to put together disaster, food, and sanitation kits.  Blood donors flock to literally give the gift of life.

When thinking about post-disaster recovery, we often think about search and rescue, removing debris and cleaning, or reconstructing homes and other structures.  Many people don’t have the skills or ability to help in these actions.  So what can these other individuals do?

After an emergency on your area, after you have taken care of the needs of your family and neighbors, it is a good idea to report to CERT, Red Cross or other community action groups.  They are trained in how to organize volunteers to help. 

There are many things that can be done besides heavy lifting, cleaning and building. 

  • Volunteers can help prepare and distribute food, clothing, sanitation, and shelter supplies. 
  • Just as in any organization, there is a lot of paperwork and documentation that needs to be done.  Volunteers can help collect, organize and distribute information. 
  • If traditional communication lines are down, volunteers can act as information runners in cars, on bikes, horses, ATVs, or on foot.
  • In emergencies, children can get separated from parents.  A volunteer experienced in child care can care for these children or for the children of parents who are volunteering in other areas.
  • Sometimes one of the most important jobs a volunteer can do is to hold a hand, listen, and provide a shoulder to cry on.

If a person is willing and able to help, there is always something that he or she can do.  Be proactive and think about what you and your family can do to help others after a disaster.  Remember that when we are helping others, we forget about our own sorrows and can find comfort in serving others.


To prevent disease in an emergency situation, keep yourself and your environment clean!

Sanitation KitMobile Sanitation Kit
Home Sanitation Supplies
Portable Hygiene Emergency Kit

Work Emergency Kit

Work Emergency Kit

Keep this personal emergency kit in a desk, locker or other quick access area to help you survive an emergency until you are able to evacuate and go home.  Make sure your place of business has an emergency plan and additional emergency supplies.

Water

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

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


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

Supplies:

  • One Apple Box with Lid, or 2 large matching boxes with flaps cut off
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
  • Stapler
  • Heavy Duty Scissors
  • Metal Wire Rack that fits completely in the box horizontally
  • Metal Wire (Optional)
  • 2 Pie Tins
  • Bricks or Boards for a Base
  • Charcoal
  • Tongs
  • Hot Pads

(Figure 1)

Box Oven Instructions:

  1. Completely cover the inside and bottom of the apple box with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Fold the foil over the edges about 2” and staple it to the box.  (Figure 2)  Turn the box on its side.
  2. Place a rack in the box so that it is level and approximately 8” from the bottom of the box.  You may secure it with wire on all 4 corners of the rack.  Or, use a rack that comes with legs.  Make sure the rack fits completely inside the box. (Figure 3)
  3. Cut the lid of the apple box or second matching box down to about 3” to 4” from the bottom.  (Figure 4)  This is now the door of the oven.  Cover the outside of the door with foil and secure the foil in place with staples.  (Figure 5)  Place the lid with the foil side toward the opening of the oven to form a door.
  4. Place bricks or boards under the bottom edges of the oven so air can circulate and keep the outside of the box cool. (Figure 6)
  5. Put two pie tins with the bottoms together and the tops facing up and down.  The top tin holds the coals while the bottom tin prevents the coals from burning the oven.   (Figure 7)  Place about 12 hot coals in the top pie tin and place both tins in the bottom, center of the oven.
  6. Place food on the rack for cooking like you would in a normal oven.  Cover with the oven door to cook the food.  (Figure 8, Figure 9)
  7. Use a pair of pliers or tongs to adjust the coals and a hot pad to remove the hot pans from the oven. (Figure 10)

Reflector Oven Instructions:

  • To use the oven as a reflector oven, you don’t need the pie tins or the door.  Place the pan of food on the rack in the oven and set the oven close to and facing a heat source like a campfire.  The radiant heat from the heat source will then cook the food.  (Figure 11)