National Preparedness Month -Week 2: Make a Plan- Life Saving Safety Skills, Sept 8-14
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is "Prepared, Not Scared."
Today, we have the ability to predict with more accuracy than ever dangerous tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, and floods. We know the areas that are prone to earthquakes and areas that are susceptible to wildfires, and we can tell hours in advance whether a tsunami will hit our shores.
However, in spite of all the capabilities for advance warnings, we are still not quite up to speed at preparing for these disasters. Many really believe that it can’t happen to us.
Some simple, quick preparations could make the difference between life and death for your family. Here are several steps you can take to be ready for a disaster from our friends at Ready.gov.
What You Should Know About Life Saving Skills
- Know basic preparedness skills to protect your family and home.
- Eliminate common electrical and fire hazards around your house and property.
- Install smoke, carbon monoxide, and natural gas alarms and test them monthly.
- Teach children what to do when they hear smoke, carbon monoxide, and natural gas alarms.
- Place natural gas detectors on every level of your home and test them monthly.
- Know how to turn off utilities like natural gas in your home.
- Talk to your landlord or building manager about evacuation routes and fire safety.
- Develop and practice a family communication plan and discuss it with your family.
- Have emergency supplies in place at home, at work, and in the car.
- Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
- Know two ways out of your home in the event of a fire and practice evacuation plans.
- Set some money aside from your income in case of an emergency.
Learn First Aid & CPR
Take a first aid and CPR class. Local American Red Cross chapters can provide information about this type of training. Official certification by the American Red Cross provides, under the “good Samaritan” law, protection for those giving first aid.
Get more information about the supplies in a first aid kit.
Learn to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Make sure you have one or more up-to-date fire extinguisher and be sure everyone knows where they are kept and how to use them. You should have, at a minimum, an ABC type.
The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate. Contact your local fire department for information on training in your area. Get more information about preparedness for a fire emergency.
Know how to shut-off Utilities
Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.
Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company for any guidance on preparations and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.
When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedures.
- If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve, if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.
- Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve.
- Before an emergency happens, locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house and label this valve with a tag for easy identification. Make sure all household members know where it is located.
- Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open or it may only partially close. If so, replace it.
- Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.
The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve. (This is not the street valve in the cement box at the curb – the street valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.)
Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.
- Locate you electrical circuit box. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.
Plan to Evacuate
A wide variety of emergencies may cause an evacuation. In some instances you may have a day or two to prepare, while other situations might call for an immediate evacuation. Planning ahead is vital to ensuring that you can evacuate quickly and safely, no matter what the circumstances.
Before an Evacuation
- Learn the types of disasters that are likely in your community and the local emergency, evacuation, and shelter plans for each specific disaster.
- Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
- Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.
- If needed, identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Most public shelters allow only service animals.
- Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
- Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
- Develop a family/household communication and re-unification plan so that you can maintain contact and take the best actions for each of you and re-unite if you are separated.
- Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation, both a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation and supplies for traveling by longer distances if you have a personal vehicle.
- If you have a car:
- Keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
- Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car.
- If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if needed. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
During an Evacuation
- A list of open shelters can be found during an active disaster in your local area by downloading the FEMA app
- Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
- Take your emergency supply kit.
- Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
- Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency now.
- If time allows:
- Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
- Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
- Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
- Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
- Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
- Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
- Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
After an Evacuation
If you evacuated for the storm, check with local officials both where you’re staying and back home before you travel.
- Residents returning to disaster-affected areas after significant events should expect and prepare for disruptions to daily activities, and remember that returning home before storm debris is cleared is dangerous.
- Let friends and family know before you leave and when you arrive.
- Charge devices and consider getting back-up batteries in case power-outages continue.
- Fill up your gas tank and consider downloading a fuel app to check for outages along your route.
- Bring supplies such as water and non-perishable food for the car ride.
- Avoid downed power or utility lines; they may be live with deadly voltage.
- Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.
- Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.
SERVPRO of West Riverside City encourages our neighbors to take steps to plan for a disaster, "Be Prepared not Scared" should a natural disaster take place in our Riverside City. Add our contact information to your emergency list. We can help ease the stress should you face a loss due to a disaster. We can make it "Like it never even happened."
SERVPRO of West Riverside City
Contact number: 951-351-8033