Disaster can strike
quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood
or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services--water,
gas, electricity or telephones--were cut off? Local officials and
relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot
reach everyone right away.
do--cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together
as a team. Follow the steps listed in this brochure to create your
family's disaster plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection
and your responsibility.
Where will your
family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere--at work,
at school or in the car.
How will you
find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?
4 Steps to Safety
1. Find Out
What Could Happen to You
local emergency management or civil defense office and American
Red Cross chapter--be prepared to take notes:
2. Create a Disaster
- Ask what
types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information
on how to prepare for each.
- Learn about
your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what
you should do when you hear them.
- Ask about
animal care after disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside
emergency shelters due to health regulations.
- Find out
how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
- Next, find
out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's
school or daycare center and other places where your family
Meet with your
family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain
the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children.
Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
3. Complete This
4. Practice and
Maintain Your Plan
- Post emergency
telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
- Teach children
how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services
number for emergency help.
- Show each
family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity
at the main switches.
- Check if
you have adequate insurance coverage.
- Teach each
family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and
show them where it's kept.
smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near
a home hazard hunt.
- Stock emergency
supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
- Take a
Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of
- Find the
safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
- Quiz your
kids every six months so they remember what to do.
fire and emergency evacuation drills.
stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
- Test and
recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's
- Test your
smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once
supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation.
Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as
backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers.
- A three-day
supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that
- One change
of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping
bag per person.
- A first
aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty
of extra batteries.
- An extra
set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
- An extra
pair of glasses.
- Keep important
family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit
in the trunk of your car.
Locate the main
electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn
how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible
family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off
off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if
you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will
need a professional to turn it back on.
neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors
to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster
until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood organization,
such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce disaster
preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors' special skills
(e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors
who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make
plans for child care in case parents can't get home.
During a disaster,
ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything
that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard. For
example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your
home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.
local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
if told to do so:
If you're sure
you have time:
to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of
local emergency officials.
- Wear protective
clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Take your
family disaster supplies kit
- Lock your
- Use travel
routes specified by local authorities--don't use shortcuts because
certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
IF DISASTER STRIKES
- Shut off
water, gas and electricity before leaving, if instructed to
- Post a
note telling others when you left and where you are going.
- Make arrangements
for your pets.
Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
Check for injuries
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
Listen to your
battery powered radio for news and instructions
advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
Check for damage
in your home...
- Use flashlights--do
not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect
- 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.
- Clean up
spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids
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 elderly or disabled persons.
- Make sure
you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
- Stay away
from downed power lines.