Emergencies vary greatly in their cause, the number of people affected, the amount of damage that occurs and the length of time it will take police, fire and medical personnel to assist. While each emergency will require a tailored response, there are some basic steps that you can use in all hazards to assist yourself and your family.
Emergencies and disasters can be frightening. You may feel a range of emotions such as disbelief, shock, anger, sadness and confusion. Try to remember that you are a role model for your family and they will follow your lead. Children are particularly susceptible to your emotions. Your ability to remain calm will reassure your family. Be patient. In a major incident it may be a while before basic services such as telephones, electricity and television are restored.
Assess the situation
Take a look at what’s going on. How bad is it? Has anyone been injured? Is there damage to buildings, vehicles or other items? How many people may be affected? Do you think you need emergency workers to assist you? If so, do you think they will be able to get to you quickly? Once you have a clear understanding of the situation you are dealing with, you will be able to determine the best course of action.
Check for injuries
Provide basic first-aid treatment for yourself or others. Did you take a CPR/first-aid or CERT class? If someone is seriously injured help them the best you can and request emergency assistance as soon as possible.
If you need immediate medical, fire or police assistance, call 911. If you need assistance locating a shelter, receiving emergency food or other non-life threatening support, call 211.
Listen for information
In a disaster or major emergency you should listen to the radio, watch local television, listen to your NOAA weather radio and/or check the Internet for information. Local officials may be trying to give you important instructions. If the electricity is out, you will need a battery operated radio and extra batteries in your emergency supplies. Police and fire may go door-to-door or give instructions over a loud speaker.
Follow emergency instructions
You may be instructed to “shelter in place.” If this occurs, take the following steps:
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace damper.
- Get your family emergency plan and disaster supplies.
- Follow your plan.
- Go to your safe room unless it is a chemical emergency. In chemical emergencies officials may request that you go to highest floor of your house because some chemicals are heavier than air.
- Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
- Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told that it is safe or you are told to evacuate.
You may be instructed to “evacuate.” If this occurs, take the following steps:
- Make sure each person in the family is wearing protective clothing. This means sturdy shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. You might need coats, hats, gloves or rain gear, depending on the weather.
- Get your family emergency plan, emergency supplies and any medication you might need. Follow your plan.
- Lock your home’s doors and windows. You may be instructed to shut off utilities such as water, electricity or gas. Did you find your utility shut-offs and place a wrench by them?
- If you have transportation, follow the recommended evacuation routes. If you need transportation, officials will direct you to an evacuation assembly point near your location.
- Confine or secure your pets during a shelter in place, and take them with you during an evacuation.
- Use your family plan. Call your emergency contacts. If you are separated, go to your meeting place.
If you and your family are safe, you may want to assist others. You will be better able to do this if you have taken a CERT class to put out small fires, perform light search and rescue and provide emergency medical treatment.
- Check on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or disabled.
- There are many volunteer opportunities if you would like to help others after an emergency.
- You can call the Emergency Management Office at 816-513-8640 to find out more.