Actions Before: Determine Risk, Increase Knowledge, Safeguard, Plan
General All-Hazard Actions:
- Determine the disaster risks in your locale and the hazards that accompany them.
- Increase your knowledge about the emergency warning signals and alert notifications used in your community.
- Instruct family members how to shut off water, gas and electricity to your house.
- Make the necessary property preparations to reduce the damage from the hazard.
- Acquire a backup generator in case of a prolonged power failure.
- Check into insurance (property, health, life, and hazard type).
- Make the necessary financial arrangements in case of a sudden evacuation and power outage that shuts down local ATMs and banks.
- Organize important documents and records and store them in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
- Perform home inventory video taping and store tape in a portable lock box or safe-deposit box.
- Develop an Emergency Communication Plan with evacuation plan and ask an out-of-state person to serve as the "family contact".
- Assemble a shelter-in-place Emergency Supplies Kit.
- Assemble a mobile Emergency Supplies Kit that can serve as a “grab and go” bag?
- Get a family member trained in first aid and CPR.
- Make the necessary preparations and arrangements for pets, seniors, and the disabled.
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency plans of your family member's employment building, school, day care center, or nursing home.
Hazard Specific Actions:
- Have backup power available - and don’t forget that generators need maintenance. If you can, consider renewable sources such as solar, wind, or fuel cells. Power outages may have cascading effects, causing:
- Loss of water and wastewater distribution systems
- Loss of perishable foods and medications
- Loss of heating/air conditioning and electrical lighting systems
- Loss of computer systems, telephone systems, and communications systems (including disruptions in airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services)
- Loss of public transportation systems
- Loss of fuel distribution systems and fuel pipelines
- Loss of all electrical systems that do not have back-up power
- Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
- Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
- Make back-up copies of important digital data and information, automatically if possible, or at least weekly.
- If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
- Be aware that most medication that requires refrigeration can be kept in a closed refrigerator for several hours without a problem. If unsure, check with your physician or pharmacist.
Actions During: Safety Basics, Evacuation, Shelter in Place
- Follow energy conservation measures to keep the use of electricity as low as possible, which can help power companies avoid imposing rolling blackouts during periods when the power grid is compromised.
- Follow the Emergency Alert System (EAS) instructions carefully.
- Disconnect electrical appliances if instructed to do so by local officials.
- Do not use the telephone unless absolutely necessary, during emergency situations keeping lines open for emergency personnel can improve response.
Actions After: Get Disaster Relief, Clean-up, Salvage
Throw out unsafe food:
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to a temperature of 40° F (4° C) or higher for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
- If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
- If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food thermometer.
- American Red Cross, CDC – Emergency Preparedness and Response, FEMA – Are You Ready? Guide, Ready.gov, Be a Force of Nature with NOAA’s Weather Ready Nation, National Weather Service Weather Safety
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