Emergency Preparedness Kit Part 2

In my last blog, I focused on the first three points in the American Red Cross pamphlet, “Prepare!  A Resource Guide”.  This blog will focus on the forth and fifth items of the pamphlet.

THE APPS:

First Aid App:

This app puts free and simple life saving information at your fingertips.  Downloading this app will give you instant access to advice from experts on everyday emergencies and disaster safety preparedness tips.  The app features step-by-step instructions on handling many every day first aid issues, plus useful videos.

Wild Fire App:

This app provides warnings, alerts with the “Blaze Tracker” information on wildfires within 100 miles of a specific location so users can track fires and make adjustments as necessary to avoid fire dangers.   “Blaze Warnings” show where wild fires are likely based on current conditions.  “Blaze Alerts” signal when a fire has been discovered or has started within 100 miles of a user’s location, and, “Blaze Path Tracker” shows an existing fire’s size, perimeter, and current location.  This app will help keep you updated so you better know how to protect yourself, loved ones, and property.

Flood App:

The Flood App includes audible alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for flood and flash flood watches and warnings.  This information can assist in getting to safety in a timely fashion, protect property, and be aware of potential dangers.  National Flood Insurance Program states that floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S.  Many people associate flooding with hurricanes and tropical storms, but common weather conditions such as heavy rains or melting snow and ice can saturate the ground, which is the perfect scenario for floods and / or flash floods.

Earthquake App:

Users of this app can register to monitor certain areas for seismic activity.  The information can included an earthquakes epicenter, impact magnitude, and local geographic impact and data as provided by the USGS.   The “Shock Zone Impact Map” gives users information based on their location, impact to the area, and the status of their community to help make better decisions.  The app also provides information on preparations for events that may happen during or after an earthquake, such as fires, tsunamis, and slides.

Hurricane App:

This app will give people real time information for local and regional hurricane threats, their location, path, and intensity.  The APP gives the ability to receive NOAA information based on location for the U.S. and its territories, which can be shared on social media as needed.  The app also gives users information of what to do before, during and after a hurricane.

Tornado App:

The tornado app has features that provide real-time audible alerts and information so people can take action before a tornado actually touches down.  A shrill siren will sound and a ‘Tornado Warning’ message will play when a NOAA tornado warning is issued in the area.  It will also issue an “All Clear” alert when the warning has expired or has been cancelled.  Many tornadoes occur at night – with the audible warning on the app, people can be awakened sooner, allowing them to make it to safe zones.

Shelter Finder App:

This app displays open Red Cross Shelters and their current population on a user friends interface for your smart phone.  All of the above named apps have Shelter Finder tabs in them to help the user locate shelter as necessary.

 

PREPARING FOR SPECIFIC DISASTERS:

Residential Fires:

65% of deaths from house fires occur where there are no working smoke alarms in the house.

Knowing what potential fire hazards are lurking around the home and removing them or mitigating them is the best way to prevent fires around the house.

Cooking Fires:

*Stay in the kitchen when cooking – especially when frying, grilling, or broiling.  Turn off stove top burners and the oven if leaving the kitchen, even if it’s just for a short time.

*Wear appropriate clothing

*Position your barbeque far enough away from any flammable structure – like your house or a shed – or out from under low overhangs, awnings, or overhanging branches.

Smoking:

*Extinguishing cigarettes, cigars, and pipe ashes in appropriate containers – filled with sand or water – prior to throwing them out, and making sure they are completely extinguished, before tossing them in the trash is imperative.  Never toss smoldering butts into garbage cans – doing so will almost guarantee a fire.

*Never smoke where oxygen is being used.  Oxygen is highly explosive and can make fires burn hotter and faster.

*Never smoke in bed or on a couch (or any living room style furniture) as they can catch fire easily and burn quickly and very hot.

Electrical And Appliance Safety:

*Replace worn, old, or damaged appliance cords.  Do not run appliance cords under carpets or furniture – if overloaded they may get extremely hot and could cause a fire.  Do put more devices on an extension cord than they are designed for – same for wall outlets.  Modern homes have electrical systems designed to trip a circuit breaker as necessary.  Older homes may or may not have been updated – old knob & tube or outdated fuse boxes may not be able to handle the electrical needs of today’s modern appliances.

*Buy electrical products that have been evaluated by such organizations like Underwriters Laboratories.  These will have been tested and deemed safe through the testing organization.

*Make sure to ground your appliances appropriately.  Use only a three slot outlet for a three prong cord.  Don’t try to force a polarized cord into a socket backwards.

Fireplaces and Wood Stoves:

*Make sure your fireplaces and wood stoves are cleaned and inspected annually – more often if used more often than seasonally.  Check for damage or obstructions when cleaning.

*Use fireplace screens, doors, or gates sturdy enough to keep logs or debris from leaving the firebox.  Make sure the device is large enough to cover the entire opening of the firebox.

*If ashes need to be removed during the burning season, make sure to use a fireproof vessel to remove and transport the ashes (and to store them if need be).

Other Fire Prevention Tips:

*Never leave burning candles unattended.

*Teach fire safety to all children.

*Keep combustibles away from heat or fire sources.

*Never use or refuel a portable generator indoors.  These should only be used outdoors or in a well ventilated area and should only be refueled outdoors.

*Install smoke alarms (and CO2 alarms) according to local ordinances.  If you’re unsure of the ordinances, you can contact your local fire department for information.

*Keep flames away from flammable items like furniture, drapes, bedding, clothing, etc…

*If your doors and windows have security bars on them, be sure they have a working quick release system that allows quick escape from the building in the event of a fire.

*Keep updated fire extinguishers located around the house – at least one in the kitchen and one near a fireplace or wood stove.  Check them annually to make sure they are still charged.  Take classes for use through local fire departments, Red Cross events, or other safety minded events.

What To Do During A Fire:

*For a kitchen fire, don’t put water on the fire as it may end up spreading the fire and making it worse.  Cover pots or pans with fires in them with a lid.  Fires that have migrated beyond the pot or pan can be extinguished with an appropriate fire extinguisher.

*When evacuating from a fire, stay low to the floor.  Don’t open doors or windows that are hot to the touch – there is most likely a fire on the other side and opening the door or window will only put you deeper in harms way.  Find another escape route, if at all possible.  Get out and stay out.

*When smoke alarms sound, get out and stay out.  Go to your pre-determined meeting place and call 911.

*Never go back inside a burning structure, regardless of the reason.  Chances are, you will not survive.

*If you are unable to escape, cover all vents, openings (under and around doors) with (preferrably) wet towels, or heavy duty tape, if available.  Call 911.  Stay where you are, making sure to locate yourself as far away from the fire source and smoke as possible.  Keep low.  If you are near a window, try to signal to someone on the outside with a brightly colored cloth or a flashlight.

*Don’t panic!

After A Fire:

*Have any injuries treated by medical professionals.  Small wounds can be washed with soap and water – use bandages to help prevent infection.  Replace dirty or damaged bandages to keep the wound sanitary.

*Keep Calm!  Others may depend on your leadership or presence.

*Do not re-enter the structure until given permission to do so by the fire department.  It will be up to them to make the determination when it is safe to re-enter – if at all.

*When re-entering a fire damaged structure, make sure to wear appropriate foot wear and clothing.  Long sleeves and pants; study work boots, and safety gear as necessary.

 

WILDFIRE:

Wildfires can move up to 14 MPH

Oregon and Washington are both ideally located for highly destructive wildfires.  Droughts and dry conditions throughout the course of the year increase the risk of wildfires occurring.  Carelessness in wooded areas significantly increases the likelihood of a wildfire, which can spread quickly through brush, scrub, and forest.  Wild fires are not solely isolated to forests.  Wildfires can sweep through residential and commercial areas as well.

What To Do Before A Wildfire:

*Learn about the risks in your area.

*Make a plan.

*Make sure the address to your residence is visible from the main road.  Make sure the driveway is clear and fully visible.

*Secure and maintain an adequate source for water to your home.  A pond, cistern, creek, swimming pool, or a well all work well.

*Set aside or place in an area easily accessed, household tools that can be used to fight a fire if necessary:  rake, ax, handsaw, chainsaw, shovel, bucket and hoses.

*Use materials on the outside of your structure(s) that are resistant to fire.

*Clean roofs and gutters regularly.  Keep a clear zone around the house – an area that is free of flammable items like old tree branches, dead shrubbery, and garbage.

*Install freeze proof faucets or water outlets on at least two sides of your home.  Keep enough hose close by to reach any area of your home or nearby structures.

What To Do During A Wildfire: 

*Be ready to leave at a moments notice.

*Listen to local radio and TV stations for updates.  Check Red Cross app.

*Check your emergency kit.  Replenish items as needed.  Keep close by or in the vehicle chosen for a quick escape.

*Secure temporary housing for your family as necessary.

*Keep your pets in one room – this will make it easier to gather them together if you need to leave in a hurry.

*Park your vehicle to allow the quickest exit possible.

*Listen and watch for reports on air quality, fire location, speed, and direction.

*Keep windows and doors closed to help keep indoor air quality better and keep smoke and soot out.

*Use the recycle air mode on your vehicle AC/Heat.

*Do not burn candles, create a fire or use a gas stove when a wildfire is nearby.  Doing so can add to poor air quality.

*Follow your health care providers advice if you have breathing issues like asthma or other breathing issues.

*Wear cotton clothing as opposed to petroleum based clothing like polyester or rayon.

IF OUTDOORS:

*Crouch in a pond, river, or pool.

*Don’t put wet bandana’s over your nose or mouth – doing so may impair breathing.

What To Do After A Wildfire:

* Let friends and family know you are safe.

*Do not enter your home until it is deemed safe by fire officials.

*Do not enter burned areas until deemed safe by fire officials.  Be careful when you do as there may be areas of hot spots that may flare up.

*Avoid damaged or fallen power lines.

EARTHQUAKES:

Doorways are no safer to stand under than any other unprotected area of your house.  Remember to drop (to the floor), Cover (under a table), and Hold on!

What To Do Before An Earthquake:

*Make a plan.

*Pick a safe place in each room of your home, workplace or school to cover under.  Try to keep it away from windows or tall, unsecured furniture, if at all possible.

*Practice your Drop, Cover, Hold on techniques.

*Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by your bedside or desk.

*Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.

*Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.

*Bolt bookcases, china cabinets, and other tall furniture to wall studs.

*Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from beds, couches and anywhere people sit.

*Secure overhead fixture like lights or chandeliers.

*Install heavy duty securing latches on china cabinets, or other furniture with doors.

*Install an automatic gas shut-off valve on your gas main – or learn how to turn your gas off.

*Learn and know local seismic building codes prior to any new construction.

During An Earthquake:

Inside a structure:

*Drop, cover, and hold on.  Move around as little as possible.

*If in bed, stay there, curl up and cover your head with pillows.

*Stay away from windows and mirrors.

*Stay indoors until the shaking ceases, and you know it will be safe to move. Use the stairwells instead of elevators.

*Understand that fire alarms and fire sprinklers will often go off during an earthquake – even if there are no fires in the building.

Outside a structure:

*Find a clear spot away from buildings, power lines, or street lights.  Get down on the ground, but be ready to move if necessary – moving is very difficult during an earthquake, so it may be best to stay put until the shaking stops.

*In a vehicle – pull over in a safe area and stay in your vehicle.  Avoid parking under bridges, power lines, or other structures that may collapse on you.  Stay in your car, with the seat belt fastened.   Don’t attempt to drive until the shaking stops – avoid on / off ramps, bridges, and power lines if possible.

*If a power line falls on your car, stay inside your car.  Do not open the windows or doors.

*In hilly or mountainous regions, be aware of potential for landslides, falling rocks, debris, or changes to creeks or rivers paths.

After An Earthquake:

*Expect continued aftershocks for the near future.

*Treat each aftershock as if it were an earthquake in itself.  Drop, cover, hold on.

*Check yourself for injuries – get medical attention as quickly as possible if necessary.

*Put on long pants, long sleeved shirts, sturdy boots, and gloves if available.

*Survey your area for damage.  Check to make sure everyone is safe, prioritize injuries as you are able to.

*Listen to a portable battery powered radio for updated information.

*Check telephones for dial tones.  Make a short call to alert a predetermined family member of your status if possible.

*Look for and extinguish small fires if possible.  Fire is the most common and most hazardous issue after an earthquake.

* Clean up flammable or slick liquids as quickly as possible.

*Help others who may need special attention as quickly as possible.

*Watch out for non-fire hazards – downed power lines, broken glass, nails, etc….

*Try to keep pets under your direct control or in control of a capable person nearby.

*Stay out of damaged buildings.

*If away from home, return only after deemed safe by local authorities.  Make sure to do a thorough examination of your home to check for damage to walls, floors, ceilings, staircases, etc…

*Drive as little as possible – you may be creating more of a hinderance by driving.

TSUNAMI:

Tsunami’s can occur any time of day or night, regardless of season.

What To Do Before A Tsunami:

*Find out if your home, school, or place of employment are located in a tsunami hazard area.

*Make a plan, build a kit.

*Know the height of your street at home, school and work.  These numbers will be crucial to know in case an evacuation is ordered.

*Plan evacuation routes and destinations for your home, work, and school.  Pick areas either a minimum of 30 meters (approximately 100′) high or 3 kilometers (2 miles) inland away from the coastline.  If you cannot do either, get as high and as far away from the coast as possible.

*Learn the evacuation plan at your children’s school(s), your work place, and any neighborhood plans where you live.  Find out if the school requires you to pick your child up during a tsunami.

*Practice your routes.  Familiarity of your routes will make an escape easier.  Have alternative route plans in place, just in case.

*If you are a tourist or are unfamiliar with the area, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the area.

What To Do During A Tsunami:

*If you feel an earthquake, drop, cover, hold on.  If outside, get to an open space as quickly as possible.

*When the shaking from the earthquake has stopped, do not wait around.  Get to higher ground as quickly as possible.  Do not stop to grab your belongings.  Minutes may make the difference between surviving and not.

*Take your disaster supply kit – do not take your time.  Leave as quickly as possible.

*Listen to the radio for updates.

*Remain inland and / or on higher ground until an ‘All Clear’ has been called.

After A Tsunami:

*Continue listening for updates from NOAA and / or the Coast Guard.

*Return home only after deemed safe by local authorities. Tsunamis consist of a number of waves, not just one big one.

*Check yourself and those around you for injuries.  Prioritize injuries as you are able to. Help others as you are able to.

*Call for assistance if someone needs to be rescued.

*Avoid areas of disaster – you may become part of the problem and not an asset.  Enter only if advised to by first responders or others of authority.

*Use the telephone only as needed – for emergencies.

*Stay out of buildings damaged by the tsunami – there may be hidden hazards under the water that may be injurious or fatal.

*Use caution when returning to your home or other structures.  Inspect for damage.

*Wear protective clothing to avoid injury or illness.

*Keep animals under close supervision or in a secured area.

WINTER STORMS:

You should keep your house thermostat set at no lower than 55F when away from home for an extended period of time during the winter months.

What To Do Before Winter Weather:

*Make a plan

*Winterize your vehicle.  Keep the fuel tank as close to full as possible.  A full tank will help keep the fuel lines from freezing up.

*Install storm windows or cover your windows with plastic from the inside to help keep cold air out.

*Keep your heating system serviced and maintained for optimal operation.

*Spread sand, 1/4″ minus gravel, or kitty litter on walk ways to help keep traction when walking.

*Keep warm blankets, coats, gloves, hats, socks and shoes easily accessible for everyone in the home.

What To Do During Winter Weather:

*Listen to local radio or NOAA for informational updates.

*Bring pets inside.  Make sure livestock and other farm animals are brought in.  Make sure they have plenty of water and food for several days.

*Keep water at a trickle in all faucets.

*Make sure all appliances that burn fuel are cleanly vented to the outside.

*Keep garage doors closed.  Insulate water supply lines located inside the garage – especially if it is an unfinished garage.

*Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors a bit to allow warmer ambient air to circulate around pipes.

*Keep the thermostat set at a consistent temperature, day and night.

*Go to a designated public shelter – if able to travel safely – if power is lost and heat is no longer being generated.

*Keep the weather factors in mind before heading outside to do strenuous tasks, like chopping / gathering firewood.

*Avoid driving if at all possible.

*Wear clothing in layers – this provides the best insulating factor against the cold.

*Help the elderly or those with special needs as you are able to.

What To Do After Winter Weather:

*Let friends and family know you are okay.

*Make sure to replenish your disaster supply kit.

FLOOD:

What To Do Before A Flood:

*Make a plan

*Listen to area radio stations or NOAA for informational updates.

*Be prepared to leave at a moments notice.

*Look into supplemental flood insurance.

What To Do During A Flood:

*Head for higher ground and stay there until an ‘All Clear’ is given.

*Stay away from floodwaters.  Fast moving water is extremely powerful; you can be swept away in very shallow water.

*Do not attempt to drive across flooded roadways.  Only six inches of fast moving water can sweep a car away.

*Keep pets and children away from flood waters.  As mesmerizing as the flood waters are, they are very dangerous – a momentary lapse in judgement can be catastrophic.

*Be diligent at night when flood danger can be more difficult to recognize.

What To Do After A Flood:

*Let friends and family know you are safe.

*Do not re-enter your home until deemed safe by local authorities or first responders.

LANDSLIDE:

What To Do Before A Landslide:

*Make a plan

What To Do During A Landslide:

*Evacuate immediately if you suspect you are in imminent danger.   Let neighbors and town officials know as well.

*Listen for unusual sounds or take note of unusual vibrations or rumblings – it may be indications of a landslide.

*If you are near a river, stream, or steep valleys, be alert for any sudden changes in water flow.  Take note, if able to, if water is changing from clear to muddy.  This may be a very good indicator of an imminent slide.

*Be alert when driving – watch for falling rock, or other movement on hillsides.

*Take your pets with you if ordered to evacuate.

*Consider moving farm animals to a safer location if possible.

What To Do After A Landslide:

*Stay away from the slide area.

*Without entering the slide area, check for injured or trapped persons.  Make note of it and advise first responders when they arrive.

*Listen to local radio or TV for informational updates.

*Watch for flash floods, additional landslides, or other dangers that may arise after a landslide.

*Watch for broken or fallen utility lines or trees and report to local authorities.

*Check the foundation, chimney, roof and surrounding areas for damage.

*Replant stricken land as soon as possible to help deter further erosion.

MEDICAL EMERGENCIES:

In the event of a major disaster, medical response may be delayed.  These are only guidelines and are not to be construed as any type of medical training.

Check – Call – Care

Check – make sure it is safe for you to approach the victim – then check the victim.  A victim with severe injuries, or difficulty breathing requires immediate medical attention.  Trained professionals must be summoned immediately – call out to bystanders for assistance as necessary to call for help.

Call – call 911, the workplace emergency number, or gain the attention of a nearby first responder.  Holler for assistance if you are not able to get through via any of the above.  There may be a land line nearby or someone may know of a close by first responder.

Care – care for the person based on the conditions you find them in.  Prioritize as you are able to if there are multiple persons injured.  Use available resources as effectively and efficiently as you can.

Take First Aid and CPR training  – it may be YOU who is able to save someone’s life.

There is one more in this category – Biological, Chemical, or Terrorist Threat and Pandemic Flu.  I will cover these in another blog.  These fall outside of the disaster events of nature and should be addressed separately.

If you have any questions about any of the above, feel free to contact the Red Cross at www.redcross.org.  You can also contact your local authorities for more information on local training, public emergency housing, volunteer opportunities and other information.

I hope each of these blogs will help you get a step closer to being prepared for our next emergency or disaster.  Until next time!

 

Bob

 

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