Please review the checklists below to become better prepared.

Earthquake

Earthquakes strike suddenly, without warning, and they can occur at any time of the year, day or night. Surviving an earthquake and reducing its health impact requires preparation, planning, and practice. Far in advance, you can gather emergency supplies, identify and reduce possible hazards in your home, and practice what to do during and after an earthquake. Learning what actions to take can help you and your family to remain safe and healthy in the event of an earthquake.

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • Create a family/personal disaster plan – review and practice with your family.
  • Put together an emergency kit including at least three days’ worth of food and water for every family member.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves.
  • Anchor top-heavy and freestanding furniture such as bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs to keep these from toppling over in an earthquake. Anchor overhead lighting fixtures to joists.
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.

DURING:

  • Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit. If you must leave the building after the shaking stops, use stairs rather than an elevator in case there are aftershocks, power outages or other damage.

      If you are outside when the shaking starts…

  • Find a clear spot (away from buildings, power lines, trees, streetlights) and drop to the ground. Stay there until the shaking stops.

      If you are in a vehicle…

  • Pull over to a clear location and stop. Avoid bridges, overpasses and power lines if possible. Stay inside with your seat belt fastened until the shaking stops. Then, drive carefully, avoiding bridges and ramps that may have been damaged.
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle, do not get out. Wait for assistance.

AFTER:

  • Expect and prepare for potential aftershocks, landslides or even a tsunami. Tsunamis are often generated by earthquakes in coastal areas.
  • Each time you feel an aftershock, drop, cover and hold on. Aftershocks frequently occur minutes, days, weeks and even months following an earthquake.
  • Look for and extinguish small fires. Fire is the most common hazard after an earthquake.
  • Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and stay out of damaged areas.

Extreme Heat

In recent years, excessive heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including floods. A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity. Generally temperatures are 10 degrees or more above the average high temperature for the region during summer months, last for a long period of time and occur with high humidity as well.

These self-help measures are not a substitute for medical care but may help you recognize and respond promptly to warning signs of trouble. Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities, and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.

Know the Difference

Heat Advisory-Heat Index values are forecast to meet locally defined advisory criteria for 1 to 2 days (daytime highs=100-105° Fahrenheit).

Excessive Heat Watch-Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event to meet or exceed local Excessive Heat Warning criteria in the next 24 to 72 hours.

Excessive Heat Warning-Heat Index values are forecast to meet or exceed locally defined warning criteria for at least 2 days (daytime highs=105-110° Fahrenheit).

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • The heat index is the temperature the body feels when the effects of heat and humidity are combined. Exposure to direct sunlight can increase the heat index by as much as 15° F.
  • Discuss heat safety precautions with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time – home, work and school – and prepare for the possibility of power outages.
  • Check the contents of your emergency preparedness kit in case a power outage occurs.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, choose places you could go to for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.

DURING:

  • Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your public health department during extreme heat conditions for health and safety updates.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty, regardless of your activity level. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

Heat-Related Emergencies

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are three dangerous and potentially life-threatening emergencies. Learn how to care for these emergencies by taking a first aid class.

Terminology

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by strenuous activity or exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity. Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.

Heat stroke (also known as sunstroke) is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry (no sweating); confusion; unconsciousness; rapid, strong pulse; headache; nausea; vomiting; and high body temperature (above 103° F).

Flood

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturate the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.

Know the Difference

Flood/Flash Flood Watch: Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.

Flood/Flash Flood Warning: Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • Because standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S.
  • Get an emergency supply kit.
  • Contact the local county geologist or county planning department to find out if your home is located in a flash-flood-prone area or landslide-prone area.
  • Learn about your community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the “family contact” in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
  • Post emergency phone numbers at every phone.
  • Inform local authorities about any special needs, i.e., elderly or bedridden people, or anyone with a disability.
  • Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them before the flood strikes. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water, fallen power lines, or before you evacuation. Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate. Secure structurally unstable building materials.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher and make sure your family knows where it is and how to use it.
  • Buy and install sump pumps with back-up power.
  • Have a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12″ above your home’s projected flood elevation.
  • For drains, toilets, and other sewer connections, install backflow valves or plugs to prevent floodwaters from entering.
  • Anchor fuel tanks which can contaminate your basement if torn free. An unanchored tank outside can be swept downstream and damage other houses.

DURING:

  • Listen to local news and weather channels for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information.
  • Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.

If you are under a flood watch or warning:

  • Gather the emergency supplies you previously stocked in your home and stay tuned to local radio or television station for updates.
  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
  • Have your immunization records handy or be aware of your last tetanus shot, in case you should receive a puncture wound or a wound becomes contaminated during or after the flood.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach. Rinse and fill with clean water.
  • Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills and trash cans inside or tie them down securely.

Preparing to evacuate…
Expect the need to evacuate and prepare for it. When a flood watch is issued, you should:

  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
  • Identify essential documents such as medical records, insurance card along with ID cards and put in waterproof material to carry with you during evacuation.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • If you have pet, identify a shelter designated for pets.
  • Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
  • Tune in the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
  • Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Due to food and sanitation requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.

If you are ordered to evacuate…
You should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will direct you to leave if you are in a low-lying area, or within the greatest potential path of the rising waters. If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.

If you are ordered NOT to evacuate…
To get through the storm in the safest possible manner:

  • Monitor the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

AFTER:

  • Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
  • Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
  • Contact your local or state public health department for specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated.

Flu

Influenza, also known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by different strains of viruses. In the United States, there is a flu season that begins every fall and ends every spring. The type of flu people get during this season is called seasonal flu. Flu viruses spread from person to person when people who are infected cough or sneeze.

Know the Difference

Seasonal Flu: A contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses occurring every year. It affects an average of 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population by causing mild to severe illness, and in some instances can lead to death. Adults may be able to infect others 1 day before getting symptoms and as long as 5 days after getting sick.

Epidemic: The rapid spread of a disease that affects some or many people in a community or region at the same time.

Pandemic: An outbreak of a disease that affects large numbers of people throughout the world and spreads rapidly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site posts regular updates to public health recommendations regarding a number of public health threats, including current epidemics/pandemics.

PLANNING AHEAD:

Get your flu shot every year for the best chance of protection. Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to minimize illness and death.

  • Always practice good health habits to maintain your body’s resistance to infection.
    • Eat a balanced diet.
    • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • Exercise daily.
    • Manage stress.
    • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • Take these common sense steps to stop the spread of germs:
    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid or minimize contact with people who are sick (a minimum three feet distancing is recommended).
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with tissues when you cough and sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
    • Stay away from others as much as possible when you are sick.
    • Anyone with a fever or other symptoms of the flu should stay home from work or school until at least 24 hours after the fever has gone (without medications).

Are you considered high risk for flu-related complications?

The following groups of people are at an increased risk: people age 50 or older, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, children age 6 months and older and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk.

People at high risk should have their vaccinations updated every year and receive pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine if age 50 or older, as directed by their physician.

DO I HAVE THE FLU?

The flu usually begins with the rapid- onset of a high fever and body aches. Be aware of other common flu symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children than in adults)

NOTE: Having all of these symptoms doesn’t always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses have similar symptoms.

Diagnosing the flu:

  • It may be difficult to tell if you are suffering from the flu or another illness.
  • Your health care provider may be able to tell you if you have the flu.
  • If you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about possible complications, consult your health care provider.

Potential risks and serious complications of the flu:

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Dehydration
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus problems

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN SOMEONE IS SICK?

  • Designate one person as the caregiver.
    • Keep everyone’s personal items separate. All household members should avoid sharing pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless cleaned between uses.
    • Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
    • Wash everyone’s dishes in the dishwasher or by hand using very hot water and soap.
    • Wash everyone’s clothes in a standard washing machine as you normally would. Use detergent and very hot water and wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
    • Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.

Home Fire

The most effective way to protect yourself and your home from fire is to identify and remove fire hazards. Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarms. During a home fire, working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives.

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • Keep items that can catch on fire at least three feet away from anything that gets hot, such as space heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Talk to children regularly about the dangers of fire, matches and lighters and keep them out of reach.
  • Turn portable heaters off when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Cooking Safely

  • Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Stay in the home while simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food. Check it regularly and use a timer to remind you that food is cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire, like pot holders, towels, plastic and clothing, away from the stove.
  • Keep pets off cooking surfaces and countertops to prevent them from knocking things onto the burner.

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.

Smoke Alarms

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.
  • Once a month check whether each alarm in the home is working properly by pushing the test button.
  • Replace batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year. Immediately install a new battery if an alarm chirps, warning the battery is low.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years. Never disable smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not substitutes for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.

Fire Escape Planning

  • Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to meet outside in case of fire.
  • Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year and at different times of the day. Practice waking up to smoke alarms, low crawling and meeting outside. Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire.

DURING:

Follow Your Escape Plan!

  • Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
  • If closed doors or handles are warm, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
  • Crawl low under smoke.
  • Go to your outside meeting place and then call for help.
  • If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.

Use Caution with Fire Extinguishers

  • Use a portable fire extinguisher ONLY if you have been trained by the fire department and in the following conditions:
    • The fire is confined to a small area, and is not growing.
    • The room is not filled with smoke.
    • Everyone has exited the building.
    • The fire department has been called.
  • Remember the word PASS when using a fire extinguisher.
    • Pull the pin and hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you.
    • Aim low. Point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
    • Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
    • Sweep the nozzle from side to side.

Power Outage

Sudden power outages can be frustrating and troublesome, especially when they last a long time. If a power outage is 2 hours or less, you need not be concerned about losing your perishable foods. For prolonged power outages, though, there are steps you can take to minimize food loss and to keep all members of your household as comfortable as possible.

Energy Conservation Recommendations

  • Turn off lights and computers when not in use.
  • Wash clothes in cold water if possible; wash only full loads and clean the dryer’s lint trap after each use.
  • When using a dishwasher, wash full loads and use the light cycle. If possible, use the rinse only cycle and turn off the high temperature rinse option. When the regular wash cycle is done, just open the dishwasher door to allow the dishes to air dry.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights.

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • To help preserve your food, keep the following supplies in your home:
    • One or more coolers-Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers work well.
    • Ice: surrounding your food with ice in a cooler or in the refrigerator will keep food colder for a longer period of time during a prolonged power outage.
    • A digital quick-response thermometer: these thermometers allow you to quickly check the internal temperatures of food to ensure they are cold enough to use safely.
  • Get an emergency supply kit with these supplies in case of a prolonged or widespread power outage. If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment, remember to include backup power in your evacuation plan.
  • Keep your car’s gas tank full.

DURING:

Keep food as safe as possible.

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about 4 hours.
  • Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  • Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.

Electrical equipment:

  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.

Using generators safely:

  • When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.

AFTER:

  • Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.
  • Throw out unsafe food.
  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety. Some foods may look and smell fine, but if they have been at room temperature too long, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses can start growing quickly. Some types of bacteria produce toxins that cannot be destroyed by cooking.
  • If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
  • If you are not sure food is cold enough, take its temperature with the food thermometer. Throw out any foods (meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture, or feels warm to touch.

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Wildfire

More and more people are making their homes in woodland settings, rural areas or remote mountain sites. There, residents enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wildfires. Wild fires often begin unnoticed. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. In a wildfire, every second counts!

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • Learn about wild fire risks in your area.
  • Talk with members of your household about wild fires – how to prevent them and what to do if one occurs.
  • Post emergency phone numbers by every phone in your home.
  • Make sure driveway entrances and your house number or address are clearly marked.
  • Identify and maintain an adequate water source outside your home, such as a small pond, cistern, well or swimming pool.
  • Set aside household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, ax, hand saw or chain saw, bucket and shovel. You may need to fight small fires before emergency responders arrive.
  • Select building materials and plants that resist fire.
  • Regularly clean roofs and gutters.
  • Plan and practice two ways out of your neighborhood in case your primary route is blocked.
  • Select a place for family members to meet outside your neighborhood in case you cannot get home or need to evacuate.
  • Identify someone who is out of the area to contact if local phone lines are not working.

DURING:

  • Be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Listen for evacuation announcements.
  • Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.

Limit exposure to smoke and dust:

  • Listen and watch for air quality reports and health warnings about smoke.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you do not have air conditioning and it is too hot to stay inside with closed windows, seek shelter elsewhere.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves. Do not vacuum because it stirs up particles that are already inside your home.
  • If you have asthma or another lung disease, follow your health care provider’s advice and seek medical care if your symptoms worsen.

Preparing to evacuate…

Expect the need to evacuate and prepare for it. Before an evacuation order is issued (voluntary or mandatory), you should:

  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
  • Identify essential documents such as medical records, insurance card along with ID cards and put in waterproof material to carry with you during evacuation.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • If you have pet, identify a shelter designated for pets.
  • Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
  • Tune in the radio or television for updates.
  • Listen for evacuation announcements.

If you are ordered to evacuate…

You should never ignore an evacuation order. Authorities will direct you to leave if you are in danger, or within the greatest potential path of the fire. If a voluntary evacuation order is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.

If you are ordered to shelter-in-place and/or NOT to evacuate…

To get through the fire in the safest possible manner:

  • Monitor the radio or television for updates.
  • Listen for evacuation announcements.
  • Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

AFTER:

  • Do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety-warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
  • Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
  • Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.

Ensure your food and water are safe:

  • Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Do NOT ever use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.

Winter Storms

Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind- driven snow that lasts for several days. Some winter storms are large enough to affect several states, while others affect only a single community. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

Know the Difference

Winter Storm Outlook
Winter storm conditions are possible in the next 2 to 5 days.

Winter Weather Advisory
Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.

Winter Storm Watch
Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.

Winter Storm Warning
Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately.

PLANNING AHEAD:

  • Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.

DURING:

  • Listen to local news and weather channels or contact your public health department during winter storm conditions for health and safety updates.
  • Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, wear mittens and a hat (preferably one that covers your ears).
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
  • Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.

Cold-Related Emergencies

  • Frostbite and hypothermia are two dangerous and potentially life-threatening emergencies. Learn how to care for these emergencies by taking a first aid class.

AFTER:

  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
  • Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.
  • Check on your animals and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles. If possible, bring them indoors.

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.