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Families can - and do - cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Follow these steps to create your disaster plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
4 Steps to Safety
1. Find out what could happen to you. Contact your local emergency management and American Red Cross chapter to ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Learn about your community’s warning signals. Ask about animal care after a disaster. Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons. Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center, and other places where your family spends time.
2. Create a disaster plan. Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for the disaster. Discuss the types of disasters most likely to happen. Pick two places to meet. Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact”. Discuss what to do in an evacuation.
3. Complete a checklist. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones. Teach children how to call 911. Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches keeping necessary tools nearby. Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher and show them where it’s kept. Install smoke detectors on each level of your home. Conduct a home hazard hunt locating ordinary objects that can cause injury or damage by moving, falling, breaking, or causing a fire. Take a first aid and CPR class. Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit:
4. Practice and maintain your plan. Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do. Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills. Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months. Test and recharge your fire extinguishers. Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
If Disaster Strikes:
Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action. Check for injuries, giving first aid and getting help for seriously injured people. Listen to your battery powered radio for news and instructions. Evacuate, if advised to do so, taking your Disaster Supplies Kit, locking your home, and using travel routes specified by local authorities. Check for damage in your home - use flashlights instead of utilities if you suspect damage, sniff for gas leaks, shut off any damaged utilities, clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately. Remember to confine or secure your pets, call your family contact, check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons, make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off, and stay away from downed power lines. You can go to www.redcross.org and click on the Contact and Locate Loved Ones under the Get Help Section to report your status or search for a loved one.
To find out more or to obtain a Family Disaster Supplies Kit Brochure/Checklist, please contact the City of Carbondale Office of Emergency Services Department at (618) 457-3245 or go to the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org or the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website at www.fema.gov.