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Safety & Prevention

People tend to think,“Oh this won’t happen to me” when it comes to disasters. 95% of people in the United States believe just that. In fact, 60% of the population has been affected. Each year, hundreds of thousands of United States citizens go through some type of disaster. A disaster can occur in your community. It can happen to you. However, knowing some basic information about the different types of disasters and what you can do in general to get ready will help to make this feel less frightening and overwhelming.

Natural disasters are the main concern. There is information about the major disasters, forest fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. However, other types of human caused disasters such as hazardous material spills can also affect you and your community. Basic preparation will help you in any type of disaster. A list explains exactly what you will need. Prepare now. Tomorrow may be the day you need it.

Forest Fires

Forest Fires may threaten people living in or near wild land areas or those using recreational areas or campsites. Forest Fires spread quickly and are capable of destroying a home in minutes. Sometimes these fires are started by nature, but people usually start brush fires and forest fires. There are some steps you can take to protect your family if there is a forest fire.

Things to do to protect your home from danger:

  • Remove outdoor plants and objects that might burn easily
  • Keep trees, bushes and plants properly trimmed and  well watered
  • Keep your chimney clean
  • Avoid open burning; If you see a fire in your area, immediately report it by calling 911

If a forest fire is approaching:

  • If you see a fire in your area, immediately report it by calling 911
  • Close all doors and windows
  • Turn on lights in order to see better in heavy smoke
  • Close gas valves and turn off pilot lights
  • If hoses and water are available, place sprinklers on roofs
  • Wear cotton or light wool long-sleeved shirts, long pants and gloves
  • Leave at once if you are told to by emergency officials

Floods

Floods occur in every area of the country. Overflowing rivers from heavy rains, hurricanes pushing sea waters inland or heavy runoff from spring melts in the mountains all cause floods and threaten families and property.

Steps you can take to protect your family if there is a flood:

  • Have properly filled sandbags ready to stop rising water (half to two-thirds full and tied at the top)
  • Remove valuable items from the home or move them to upper floors
  • Turn off utilities at main panel;  Close main gas valve
  • Be ready to evacuate immediately. Floodwaters can rise quickly
  • Fill car with supplies and fresh water
  • Do not walk or drive through flooded areas that are deeper than knee-high

Tornadoes

Advance planning and quick response are the keys to surviving a tornado. Have a plan for getting your family back together in the event that family members are separated. For example, a tornado could strike during the day when parents are at work or home and children are at school.

Learn these tornado danger signs:

  • An approaching cloud of trash can mark the location of a tornado
  • Before a tornado hits, the air may become very still
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear skies behind a tornado.

There are some steps you can take to protect your family if there is a tornado.

At home:

  • Go to the basement, or lowest level of the building
  • If there is no basement, go to a smaller inner room without windows
  • Go to the center of room
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a heavy table and hold on to it
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck
  • If you are in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere

At work/school:

  • Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, or large hallways
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a heavy table and hold on to it
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck

When you are outside:

  • If possible, get inside a building
  • If there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or crouch near a strong building
  • Be aware of the potential for flooding
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck

If you are in a car:

  • NEVER drive in a tornado. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air
  • Get out of the car immediately and take shelter in a nearby building
  • If there is not time to get indoors, get out of the car and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle

Hurricanes

Planning ahead and learning about hurricane warning messages can reduce the chances of injury or major property damage during a hurricane. There are some steps you can take to protect your family during a hurricane.

Before the storm:

  • Plan an evacuation route
  • Have a plan. Know where nearby shelters are located and which routes you would take if you needed to evacuate
  • Have disaster supplies on hand
  • If you have pets, know where you would take them. Contact the local humane society to find out where there is an animal shelter in your area
  • Make sure that all family members know what to do during a hurricane
  • Have a plan for getting your family back together in the event that family members are separated when the storm hits

During a Hurricane Watch:

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for hurricane progress reports
  • Check emergency supplies
  • Fuel your car
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows
  • Remover outside antennas
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly
  • Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles or cooking pots
  • Review your evacuation plan

During a Hurricane Warning:

  • Stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors
  • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps
  • If power is lost, unplug appliances to reduce power “surges” when electricity is restored

If You are Told to Evacuate:

  • Leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and bridges
  • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve
  • Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going
  • If time permits, move valuable items to a higher floor
  • Take your Family Readiness Kit and disaster supplies
  • Lock up and leave home

Earthquakes

Earthquakes strike violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards in your home and knowing what to do during an earthquake can help you reduce the dangers. Make your home earthquake-safe.

Check for hazards throughout your home:

  • Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches and other places where people sit
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves
  • Fasten shelves securely to walls
  • Strap your water heater to the wall studs and bolt it to the floor
  • Brace overhead light fixtures
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass and china in low, closed cabinets with latches
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products securely on bottom shelves in closed cabinets with latches

Be prepared:

  • Identify safe places in each room in your house
  • Locate safe places – those out in the open – outside your house
  • Have disaster supplies on hand at all times

There are some steps you can take to protect your family during an earthquake.

If you are indoors:

  • Stay inside. The most dangerous thing to do during an earthquake is to try to leave a building
  • Take cover under a piece of heavy furniture or against an inside wall and hold on

If you are outdoors or in a moving vehicle:

  • Move into the open, away from buildings, streetlights, utility wires, trees, overpasses or elevated expressways.
  • Stop quickly and stay in your vehicle
  • Move to a clear area away from buildings, trees, overpasses or utility wires
  • Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake

If there is an emergengy and you need to evacuate immediately, make sure to take these items:

  • Personal identification
  • Special items for babies/young children/elderly
  • 3 gallons of water per person
  • Bar soap/toiletries
  • Non-electric can opener and utility knife (life a Swiss Army knife)
  • Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member
  • Canned meat, milk, fish, fruit and vegetables (10 cans per person is recommended)

Family Disaster Supplies List

Keep these items together in a plastic tub or container or store them together in one cabinet so they will be easy to find.

Non-Food Items:

  • Battery-powered radio
  • flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit (include acetaminophen or other no steroidal anti-inflammatory drug NSAID, antibiotic cream andantacids) and manual.
  • Prescription medications (month’s supply recommended)
  • Photocopies of prescriptions (pharmacy records may not be available right away)
  • Credit card and cash
  • Personal identification
  • Spare set of car keys
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Signal flare
  • Whistle
  • Map of the area
  • List of important phone numbers
  • Special items for babies/young children/elderly
  • 3 gallons of water per person
  • Bar soap/toiletries
  • Paper and pencils
  • Masking or duct tape
  • Plain chlorine bleach (may be needed to sanitize drinking water)
  • Plastic bucket with a tight lid
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Non-electric can opener and utility knife (like a Swiss Army knife)
  • Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member. (In warm weather climates, you may also want to include sunscreen and insect repellant)

Food Items:

  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Ready-to-eat canned soup, canned meat, milk, fish, fruit and vegetables (10 cans per person is recommended)
  • Bread/crackers stored in waterproof bag or container
  • Powdered or single serve drinks
  • Cereal/granola bars
  • Packaged condiments

For Pets:

  • A two-week supply of dry and canned food.
  • Water (1/2 gallon per day)
  • Litter box supplies
  • Traveling cage

As a parent and family member your concern is for the safety of your children and your family. We all look for ways to provide a healthy, safe and secure world for our loved ones. There may be times when we must call on special resources to make sure our families are protected. A disaster is one of those times.

 

Last Updated
5/28/2014
Source
Adapted from Family Readiness Kit: Preparing to Handle Disasters, 2nd Edition
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.