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What You Can Do To Prepare:
- Create an emergency communications plan.
- Establish a meeting place.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
- Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you may have.
- Develop a Disaster Plan.
- First Aid Primer.
Create an Emergency Communications Plan:
Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that that person would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and the person should know he or she is the chosen contact. Make sure every household member has that contact's and each other's e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager, and cell). Leave these contact numbers at your children's schools, if you have children, and at your workplace. Your family should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or try e-mail. Many people flood the telephones lines when emergencies happen but e-mail can sometimes get through when calls don't.
Establish a Meeting Place:
Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit:
If you need to evacuate your home or are asked to “shelter in place," having some essential supplies on hand will make you and your family more comfortable. Prepare a disaster supplies kit in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can. Include “special needs” items for any member of your household (infant formula or items for people with disabilities or older people), first aid supplies (including prescription medications), a change of clothing for each household member, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each, a battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries, food, bottled water and tools. It is also a good idea to include some cash and copies of essential documents, like powers of attorney, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, life insurance beneficiary designations and a copy of your will should also be kept in a safe location outside your home. A safe deposit box or the home of a friend or family member who lives out of town is a good choice.
If Disaster Strikes:
Remain calm and be patient.
- Follow the advice of local emergency officials.
- Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.
- If the disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
- Shut off any other damaged utilities.
- Confine or secure your pets.
- Call your family contact. Do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
- Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.
What We Learned After 9/11/01:
If local authorities ask you to leave your home, they have good reason to make this request, and you should heed the advice immediately. Listen to your radio or television and respond to the instructions of local emergency officials and keep the following simple tips:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be protected as much as possible.
- Take your disaster supplies kit.
- Take your pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative's or friends home, or find a pet-friendly hotel.
- Lock your home.
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities - don't use shortcuts because areas may be impassable or dangerous.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
If You're Sure You Have Time:
- Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
- Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so. Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise. You may need gas for heating and cooking, and only a professional can restore gas service in your home once it's been turned off. In a disaster situation it could take weeks for a professional to respond.
Shelter In Place:
If you are advised by local officials to "shelter in place," what they mean is for you to remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there. Close and lock all windows and exterior doors. Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems. Close the fireplace dampers.
- Get your disaster supplies kit, and make sure the radio is working. Go to an interior room without windows that's above ground level. In cases of chemical threat, an above - ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room. Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
Additional Positive Steps You Can Take:
Raw, unedited footage of terrorism events and people's reaction to those events can be very upsetting, especially to children. It is not recommended that children watch television news reports about such events, especially if the news reports show images over and over again about the same incident. Young children do not realize that it is repeated video footage, and think the event is happening again.
Adults may also need to give themselves a break from watching disturbing footage. However, listening to local radio and television reports will provide you with the most accurate information from responsible governmental authorities on what's happening and what actions you will need to take. So you may want to make some arrangements to take turns listening to the news with other adult members of your household.
First Aid Primer:
If you encounter someone who is injured, apply the emergency action steps:
Check the scene to make sure it is safe for you to approach. Then check victim for unconsciousness and life-threatening conditions. Someone who has a life-threatening condition, such as not breathing or severe bleeding, requires immediate care by trained responders and may require treatment by medical professionals.
Call out for help. There are some steps that you can take, however, to care for someone who is hurt, but whose injuries are not life threatening.
- Cover the wound with a dressing, and press firmly against the wound (direct pressure).
- Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart if you do not suspect that the victim has a broken bone.
- Cover the dressing with a roller bandage.
- If bleeding does not stop:
- Apply additional dressings and bandages.
- Use a pressure point to squeeze the artery against the bone.
- Provide care for shock.
Care for Shock
- Keep the victim from getting chilled or overheated.
- Elevate the legs about 12 inches (if broken bones are not suspected).
- Do not give food or drink to the victim.
- Stop the burning by cooling the burn with large amounts of water.
- Cover the burn with dry, clean dressings or cloth.
Care for injuries to Muscles, Bones and Joints
- Rest the injured part.
- Apply ice or a cold pack to control swelling and reduce pain.
- Avoid any movement or activity that causes pain.
- If you must move the victim because the scene is becoming unsafe, try to immobilize the injured part to keep it from moving.
Be Aware of Biological / Radiological Exposure
- Listen to local radio and television reports for the most accurate information from responsible governmental and medical authorities on what's happening and what actions you will need to take.
Reduce Any Care Risks
The risk of getting a disease while giving first aid is extremely rare. However, to reduce further risks you should:
- Avoid direct contact with blood and other body fluids.
- Use protective equipment, such as disposable gloves and breathing barriers.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water immediately after giving care.
Links to Emergency Agencies: