The Sounds of Advice #53: Weather Emergency Safety Tips



Safety tips for weather emergencies (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods)

Sandy: I haven't been in an earthquake since I was little, but it was a little scary. Thankfully, my dad knew what he was doing and we were perfectly okay. I put together things you can do before, during and after one. I hope you find all of this information helpful! :)

What to Do Before an Earthquake:

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries at home.
Learn first aid.
Learn how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity.
Make up a plan of where to meet your family after an earthquake.
Don't leave heavy objects on shelves (they'll fall during a quake).
Anchor heavy furniture, cupboards, and appliances to the walls or floor.
Learn the earthquake plan at your school or workplace.

What to Do During an Earthquake:

Stay calm! If you're indoors, stay inside. If you're outside, stay outside.
If you're indoors, stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway, or crawl under heavy furniture (a desk or table). Stay away from windows and outside doors.
If you're outdoors, stay in the open away from power lines or anything that might fall. Stay away from buildings (stuff might fall off the building or the building could fall on you).
Don't use matches, candles, or any flame. Broken gas lines and fire don't mix.
If you're in a car, stop the car and stay inside the car until the earthquake stops.
Don't use elevators (they'll probably get stuck anyway).

What to Do After an Earthquake:

Check yourself and others for injuries. Provide first aid for anyone who needs it.
Check water, gas, and electric lines for damage. If any are damaged, shut off the valves. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell it, open all the windows and doors, leave immediately, and report it to the authorities (use someone else's phone).
Turn on the radio. Don't use the phone unless it's an emergency.
Stay out of damaged buildings.
Be careful around broken glass and debris. Wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet.
Be careful of chimneys (they may fall on you).
Stay away from beaches. Tsunamis and seiches sometimes hit after the ground has stopped shaking.
Stay away from damaged areas.
If you're at school or work, follow the emergency plan or the instructions of the person in charge.

Expect aftershocks


Aisling: BEFORE A HURRICANE:
Have a disaster plan.
Have a pet plan. Before a storm threatens, contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.
Board up windows.
Bring in outdoor objects that could blow away.
Make sure you know which county or parish you live in.
Know where all the evacuation routes are.
Prepare a disaster supplies kit for your home and car. Have enough food and water for at least 3 days. Include a first aid kit, canned food and a can opener, bottled water, battery-operated radio, flashlight, protective clothing and written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas, and water.
Have a NOAA weather radio handy with plenty of batteries, so you can listen to storm advisories.
Have some cash handy. Following a hurricane, banks and ATMs may be temporarily closed.
Make sure your car is filled with gasoline.

DURING A HURRICANE:

Stay away from low-lying and flood prone areas.
Always stay indoors during a hurricane, because strong winds will blow things around.
Leave mobile homes and to go to a shelter.
If your home isn’t on higher ground, go to a shelter.
If emergency managers say to evacuate, then do so immediately.

AFTER A HURRICANE:

Stay indoors until it is safe to come out.
Check for injured or trapped people, without putting yourself in danger.
Watch out for flooding which can happen after a hurricane.
Do not attempt to drive in flooding water.
Stay away from standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
Don’t drink tap water until officials say its safe to do so.

Michaelle: Tornadoes

The best protection from a tornado is in an underground area such as a basement or storm cellar. If an underground shelter is unavailable, consider the following:

Try to find a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
Stay away from doors, windows, and outside walls.
Stay in the center of the room, and avoid corners because they attract debris.
Rooms constructed with reinforced concrete, brick or block with no windows and a heavy concrete floor or roof system overhead.
Avoid auditoriums, cafeterias and gymnasiums that have flat, wide-span roofs.

If flying debris is encountered while in a vehicle, there are two options:
1) stay in the vehicle with the seat belt on, keep your head below the windows and cover it with your hands or a blanket.
2) if there is an area which is noticeable lower than the roadway, lie in that area and cover your head with your hands.

Kate: Before a flood:
The first step in preparing for the possibility of a flash flood is knowing if your home is in a flood zone or flood hazard area. When severe weather threatens or hits, pay close attention to the weather watches and warnings for your area. A Flash Flood Watch means the conditions are ripe for a flash flood to occur, while a Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or already occurring in areas that are considered a flood hazard. If you’re in an area that may be in a flood zone, have a flood disaster plan for your family and know your area's flood evacuation routes. If the authorities issue an evacuation, follow the recommended evacuation plan. Prepare your home for a flash flood by:

Bringing indoors or securing all outdoor furniture

Moving important items out the lowest areas of the home to avoid water damage
Unplugging electrical appliances
If authorities recommend, turning off the home's main electricity and gas
Having a flood emergency kit ready

Your flood emergency kit should include a First Aid kit, weather emergency radio, any medications family members or pets may need, bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlight, batteries, multi-purpose tool, duct tape, and important papers including a phone list with numbers for your insurance agent, and family members. A water-proof tote is a perfect container for a flood emergency kit.


During a flood: Never walk or drive through flood waters. Six inches of water can knock a person down and only two feet of water can sweep away any vehicle during a flash flood. Remember that even shallow flood waters can pose a danger. Flood waters can contain debris and harmful contaminants that lead to injury and serious health risks. Never let children play in a flooded area for any reason. Head for higher ground, which is generally safer. If caught at home, avoid the basement and head to the upper level. Keep your flood emergency kit close at hand as well as a weather-emergency radio and a cell phone.


After a flood: Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.
Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

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