Disaster Response

Are you prepared for an emergency?

Disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes can strike with little or no warning. To ensure that you and your family are prepared, there’s no time like the present to create emergency kits: one to use if you need to evacuate your home and one if you get trapped in your home for several days. Get the entire family involved in creating these emergency kits so that your kids understand the importance of being prepared.

Evacuation Kits

To help you evacuate quickly, keep the following items in an emergency backpack so you can grab it and go:

• A gallon of water per family member and nonperishable foods

• Can opener, plastic cups and eating utensils

• Flashlight and extra batteries

• Battery-operated radio

• Change of clothing for each family member

• Contact information for your family and a relative or friend out of state

• First aid kit

• Personal identification cards for each family member

• Personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer

• Medications that are needed regularly

Homebound Kits

Just as important as an evacuation kit, homebound kits are filled with important items necessary when you cannot leave your home for several days due to a crisis. Place the following items in an area of your home to be ready for an emergency:

• Three gallons of water per family member

• Canned food for at least three days

• Pet foods and supplies for three days

• Toilet paper

• Extra personal hygiene items

• Unscented bleach

• Blankets

• Books, games and other forms of entertainment

• Paper and pencils

• Battery-operated radio and television

• Flashlight

• First aid kit

Returning home after a disaster.

After a disaster strikes, returning to your home can be an emotional experience. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, it can also be a dangerous one. The disaster may have caused damages to your home that now present a safety hazard to you and your family. It is important that you properly inspect your home for potential hazards before you resume your life there.

Hazards to look for:

• Natural Gas

If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Alert the gas company as soon as possible. Do not smoke or make use of any other items that have an open flame inside a damage house unless you are sure there are no gas leaks or other flammable materials present.

• Sparks and broken or frayed wires

Use a flashlight when first entering your home if you are unsure of the condition of your electrical system. Do not turn on any lights until you are sure they are safe to use. If you suspect damage to any part of your electrical system or if there is standing water in your home, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if you can safely do so.

• Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks

A close examination of your home’s structural integrity is very important. If you feel that there is a chance for collapse, leave immediately.

• Appliances

If appliances are wet or appear to be damaged, turn off the electricity running to them at the main fuse box and then unplug them. Check that they, and your electrical system, work properly before plugging them back in.

• Water and sewage systems

If any pipes are damaged turn off your water at the main valve. Check with local authorities before using any water for cooking or cleaning as it may be contaminated. If you are supplied by your own well have a sample tested before use. Also, make sure sewer lines are intact before using toilers.

• Food and other supplies

Throw out all food

and other perishable items that may have been contaminated. This is especially important when goods have come into contact with standing water.

• Clean up hazardous materials

Household chemicals, raw sewage and other hazardous substances that have spilled or leaked throughout your home need to be cleaned up as soon as possible. Make sure you take the proper care to protect yourself from the substance during this process.

• Call your insurance agent

Take pictures of damages before you begin cleanup and keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.

Safety First

Before entering your home, take a walk around your property. Look for disconnected power lines and any apparent structural damage. Noting external damage can alert you to potential hazards that wait inside. If you have any doubts about how such damages could affect your safety, have your home inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.