Severe Weather and Power Outages
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Not all floods are alike. Some develop slowly and some can occur within a matter of minutes. If a flood is likely in your area, 1) Listen to the radio or television for information. 2) Be aware that flash flooding can occur and move to higher ground. 3) Be aware of streams, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly.
If you must evacuate, 1) Secure your home. Bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor. 2) Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves and disconnect electrical appliances. 3) Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you. 4) Do not drive in flooded areas. If water rises around the car, leave the car and go to higher ground. A foot of water will float many vehicles.
If a tornado is approaching it is very important to have a family plan. The following are steps to take before a tornado approaches.
•Listen to the weather radio station or commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
•Look for approaching storms.
•Look for danger signs: dark, greenish sky; large hail; large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating).
•Listen for a loud roar (similar to a freight train).
[/list]If you see any of these danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
If you are under a tornado WARNING, seek shelter immediately! If you are in a:[list type=”information”]
•Structure (home, school, shopping center) – go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) always from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open any windows.
•Vehicle, trailer or mobile home – get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornados.
•Outside with no shelter – lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location. Never try to outrun in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornados causes most fatalities and injuries.
One of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature is a severe earthquake and its terrible aftereffects. Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning at any time of the day or night. If an earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause many deaths and injuries and extensive property damage. Although there are no guarantees of safety during an earthquake, identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can save lives and significantly reduce injuries and property damage.
There are six ways to plan ahead for an earthquake:[list type=”information”]
•Check for hazards in the home
°Secure shelves to the walls, place large/heavy objects on lower shelves, store breakable items in closed cabinets with latches
°Hang heavy items away from the bed, couch or anywhere people sit, brace overhead light fixtures
°Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections, secure water heater to the wall
°Repair deep cracks in the ceilings or the foundation
°Identify safe places indoor and outdoors
•Educate yourself and family members
°Have a family disaster plan, perform drills
°Have disaster supplies on hand
°Flashlight and extra batteries, portable battery operated radio
°First aid kit and manual, emergency food and water
°Essential medications, cash and credit cards
°Develop an emergency communication plan
•Help your community get ready[/list]
During an earthquake you want to minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
•If indoors –[list type=”information”]
°Drop to the ground and take cover
°Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything that could fall
°Stay in bed if you are there. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow
°Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and you know id is a strongly, supported load bearing doorway
°Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside
°Do not use the elevators to exit the building[/list]
•If outdoors –[list type=”information”]
°Move away from buildings, streetlights and utility wires[/list]
•If in a moving vehicle –[list type=”information”]
°Stop as quickly as possible and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires
°Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges or ramps that have been damaged by the earthquake.[/list]
After an earthquake expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main earthquake.
Returning Home After Disaster Strikes
Before you enter your home walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, do not enter until the house has been inspected by a building inspector.
Do not enter the house if:[list type=”cancel”]
- You smell gas
- Floodwaters remain around the building
- Home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.[/list]
Once it has been deemed safe to enter your home, check for:[list type=”cancel”]
- The smell of natural gas
- Broken or frayed wires
- Cracks in the chimney, roof, foundations
- Water and sewage systems
- Chemical spills[/list]
Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue.
Disaster Kits in a Bucket
Emergency management organizations encourage citizens to keep disaster supplies, emergency food and water on hand in case of flood, power outage, tornado or earthquake. All of the following items will fit into a five-gallon bucket. The items are: 1 roll of toilet paper, 1 camp stove, 2 cans of Sterno, 1 mess kit, 4 boxes of water proof matches, 6 books of regular matches, 12 paper plates, 6 each plastic forks, knives and spoons, 12 disposable drinking cups, 1 flashlight, 2 AD batteries, 2 emergency solar blankets, 12 hand/foot warmers, 6 heavy duty plastic bags, 12 hand sanitizer packets, 2 light sticks, 1 roll of duct tape, 1 pocket (utility) knife, 1 hand can opener, a two punch can opener, 2 combs, 1 tube toothpaste, 2 toothbrushes and 1 first aid kit. Items for the first aid kit: 6 pairs plastic gloves, an 8 oz bottle contact lens saline (to irrigate and clean wounds), 6 knuckle band-aids, 6 regular band-aids, 6 Telfa pads, 1 roll tape, 1 tube antibiotic ointment, 3 burn gel packets, 6 wound wipes (Providone-Iodine), 2 stretch gauze, 2 instant ice compresses, 6 packets each of buffered aspirin and non-aspirin pain reliever, 1 each scissors and tweezers, a 4 oz bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide, and 6 sanitary napkins, which can be used to dress a large wound.
Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency
Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food? Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of food borne illness. These tips will help you make the right decisions in keeping your family safe during an emergency.
Steps to follow to prepare for a possible weather emergency:
- Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.
- Make sure the freezer is at 0° F or below and the refrigerator is at 40° F or below.
- Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator or coolers after the power is out.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately — this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
- Group food together in the freezer — this helps the food stay cold longer.
- Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
Steps to follow after the weather emergency:
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
- The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) and the door remains closed.
- Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after 4 hours without power.
- Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below when checked with a food thermometer.
- Never taste a food to determine its safety!
- Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
- If the power has been out for several days, check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer. If the appliance thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe to refreeze.
- If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
- When in Doubt, throw it Out!
This information was provided by the following agencies and for additional planning and weather preparedness information, please refer to the following websites: