EMERGENCY Preparedness

Despite all of the efforts of law enforcement and government agencies, there are no guarantees that during a major emergency such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster that government and Law Enforcement agencies will have enough manpower in the early stages of such a situation to respond to all the calls for service. However, with pre-planning and preparation you can do a lot to assist your family if these extraordinary situations should arise.

General Guidelines to follow when an EMERGENCY Strikes:
* Remain calm and be patient, this will be difficult but necessary to operate with a clear mind.
* Follow the advice of local emergency officials.
* Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.
* If the disaster occurs near you, check for injuries, give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
* 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. 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 and 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 you can do to prepare:
An emergency can occur without warning, leaving little or no time for you and your family to plan what to do next. It is necessary for you to learn about the things that you can do to be prepared before an emergency occurs. Below are some of the steps you can take to properly plan ahead.

Make a neighbor directory and plan:
Include emergency contact information and plans for children and seniors who may be home alone during emergency situations. This plan should include who they should call and in what order they should make the calls. Identify neighbors who need additional help, such as young children, seniors, and those with disabilities and develop a plan to assist them in an emergency. The emergency contact information should be located in an easily accessible place in your home and everyone should know the location. A convenient way of doing this is to place the information in a plastic holder with a magnet and attach it to your refrigerator. A copy of this information should also be accessible to you at work and in your vehicles. In today's electronic age a copy of this information can be stored in your cell phone if it has the capability.

Make your house easy to find:
Make sure your street address number is large and well lit so that emergency personnel can find your home quickly.

Develop a home evacuation plan:
It is vital that you not only develop the plan but that you practice it with your family and neighbors. Every child, family member, and guest in your home should know exactly how to get out of your home in case of fire or emergency. Find at least two ways out of each room in your home if possible. If you live in an apartment building know the evacuation plan. Agree on a place to meet once everyone gets out of the building. Learn how to shut off utilities such as gas, electricity, and water. Make sure smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in working order.

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 they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are 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 telephone 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 pre-arrange 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 an Emergency Supply 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, non-perishable food, bottled water and tools. It is also a good idea to include some cash and copies of important family documents (birth certificates, passports and licenses) in your kit. 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.

Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you may have:
If your child is enrolled in a Public School, please know that every public school should have an emergency plan on file with the local police and fire departments.
Emergencies can happen at anytime and usually occur at the worst possible time. This is why you should also be prepared in case the emergency strikes when you are at work.

How to Get Prepared At Work:
You and your co-workers should know what to do if an emergency happens during the workday. Learn about your company’s emergency plans and ensure that a plan is developed if one is not in place.
  1. Practice your company’s emergency plans, including evacuation plans. Evacuation plans need to be legible and posted prominently on each floor. Know the exit routes and evacuation plans in your building. Know at least two exit routes from each room, if possible be able to escape in the dark by knowing how many desks or cubicle are between your workstation and two of the nearest exits.
  2. Have a designated post-evacuation meeting location where appropriate personnel can take a headcount and identify missing workers. Every employee should be aware of this location.
  3. Make special emergency plans for co-workers who are disabled or may require assistance during an emergency.
  4. Know the location of fire extinguishers and medical kits, periodically check extinguishers and alarm systems.
  5. Make a list of important phone numbers and keep a printed list at your desk and near other telephones. Do not rely on electronic lists, direct-dial phone numbers, or computer organizers that may not work in an emergency.
  6. Gather personal emergency supplies in a desk drawer, including a flashlight, walking shoes, a water bottle, and non-perishable food.
  7. Report damaged or malfunctioning safety systems to appropriate personnel for repair and maintenance.
  8. Never lock fire exits or block doorways, halls, or stairways. However is a fire occurs, keep fire doors closed to slow the spread of smoke and fire.
  9. In the event of an emergency in a building with many floors:
    - Leave the area quickly following your worksite’s evacuation plan. In the event of fire, crawl under the smoke to breather cleaner air. Test doors for heat before opening them. Never use an elevator when evacuating a burning building. Always go directly to the nearest fire and smoke free stairwell.
    - If you are trapped in the building stay calm and take steps to protect yourself. If possible, go to a room with an outside window and telephone for help.
    - Provide any assistance you can to children, the elderly, the injured, co-workers with disabilities, and others who require special assistance.
    - Stay where rescuers can see you and wave a light-colored cloth to attract attention.
    - Open windows if possible, but be ready to shut them if smoke rushes in. Stuff clothing, towels, or newspapers around the cracks in doors to prevent smoke from entering your refuge.