Disaster Preparedness

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FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD PREPAREDNESS

  • Talk with your family about potential disasters and why it's necessary to prepare for them. Involve each member of your family in the planning process. By showing them simple steps that can increase their safety, you can help reduce their anxiety about emergencies.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to find your Emergency Preparedness Kits.
  • Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone's bed in case there is an earthquake during the night. Use a plastic bag tied to the leg of the bed to keep these items from moving during an earthquake.
  • Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate. Be sure your car's gas tank is always at least half full.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
  • Make sure each member of your family knows who your family's out-of-area contact person is and instruct them to call this person and tell him/her where they are.
  • Locate the gas main and other utilities and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off.
  • Practice your evacuation routes, Drop, Cover, and Hold & Stop, Drop, and Roll drills.
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Create emergency response cards for each of your family members.
  • Take into account the special needs of children, seniors or people with disabilities, and pets.  

HOME SAFETY

  • During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. However, there are simple steps you can take to make your home safer. Start by viewing each room with a "disaster eye" and identify potential hazards - bookshelves that could tip over in an earthquake and block exits or heavy objects that could fall and cause injury.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and change batteries every 6 months. A good rule of thumb to remember with smoke detectors is to change the batteries at daylight savings time, twice a year. If your smoke detector starts chirping or beeping off and on, it's time to change the batteries.
  • Move beds away from windows.
  • Move mirrors and heavy pictures away from couches or places where people sit.
  • Clear hallways and exits for easy evacuation.
  • Store heavy items on lowest shelves.
  • Keep an ABC type fire extinguisher on each level and know how and when to use them.
  • Strap down your water heater and fit all gas appliances with a flexible gas supply line.
  • Store flammable or highly reactive chemicals (such as bleach, ammonia, paint thinners) securely and separate from each other.
  • Secure pictures and wall hangings and use restraints to secure heavy items such as bookcases and file cabinets.
  • Know how and when to switch off your utilities.
  • Ensure that all window safety bars have emergency releases.
  • Be sure your home number is visible from the street so emergency vehicles can find you.
  • Visit the Association of Bay Area Governments for resources and information on structural and non-structural things you can do to make your home more safe in and earthquake.

CHILDREN  

  • Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety.
  • Teach your children their basic personal information so they can identify themselves and get help if they become separated from a parent or guardian.
  • Prepare an emergency card with information for each child, including his/her full name, address, phone number, parent's work number, and out of area contact.
  • Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get them.
  • Regularly update your child's school with current emergency contact information and persons authorized to pick up your child from school.
  • Make sure each child knows the family's alternate meeting sites if you are separated in a disaster and cannot return to your home.
  • Make sure each child knows how to reach your family's out-of-area contact person.
  • Teach children to dial their home telephone number and Emergency 9-1-1.
  • Teach children what gas smells like and advise them to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency.
  • Warn children never to touch wires on poles or lying on the ground.
  • Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses such as evacuation routes, Drop, Cover and Hold, & Stop, Drop, and Roll.
  • Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured.
  • Role-play with Children on what to say when calling Emergency 9-1-1.

SENIORS AND DISABLED
  • Set up a personal support network - Designate someone to check on you in an emergency and to help with evacuation or sheltering-in-place.
  • Personal Care Assistance - If you receive assistance from a home healthcare agency or in-home support provider, find out how the provider will respond in an emergency. Designate backup and alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
  • For persons using a wheelchair - Plan for how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup.
  • For Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired - Keep an extra collapsible cane by your bed. Attach a whistle to the cane; use it if you need to attract attention. Exercise caution when moving around after an earthquake; items may fall and block paths that are normally unobstructed.
  • For persons who are Hearing Impaired - Keep extra batteries for your hearing aids with emergency supplies. Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly after a disaster.

PETS

Be Prepared with a Disaster Plan

  • The best way to protect your family from the effects of a disaster is to have a disaster plan. If you are a pet owner, that plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.
  • Different disasters require different responses. But whether the disaster is an Earthquake or a fire, you may have to evacuate your home. In the event of a disaster, if you must evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to evacuate them, too. Leaving pets behind, even if you try to create a safe place for them, is likely to result in their being injured, lost, or even worse. So prepare now for the day when you and your pets may have to leave your home.

Have a Safe Place To Take Your Pets

  • It may be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animal in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Do not wait until disaster strikes to do your research.
  • Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size, and species. Ask if "no pet" policies could be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of "pet friendly" places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information and supplies. If you have notice of an impending disaster, call ahead for reservations.
  • Ask friends, relatives, or others outside the affected area whether they could shelter your animals. If you have more than one pet, they may be more comfortable if kept together, but be prepared to house them separately. Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency; including 24-hour phone numbers.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster. Animal shelters may be overburdened caring for the animals they already have as well as those displaced by a disaster, so this should be your last resort.

Assemble a Portable Pet Disaster Supplies Kit

Whether you are away from your home for a day or a week, you'll need essential supplies. Keep items in an accessible place and store them in sturdy containers that can be carried easily (duffle bags, covered trash containers, etc.). Make sure to note any expiration dates and rotate/replace accordingly. Your pet disaster supplies kit should include:

  • Medications and Medical Records (stored in a waterproof container) and a first aid kit. First aid kit to include peroxide, gauze pads, tweezers, sterile eye wash, and tape. Make sure to list medication schedule and/or routine.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers/portable kennels to transport pets safely and ensure that your animals can't escape.
  • Current photos of your pets in case they get lost (stored in a water proof bag/container).
  • Food, portable water, bowls, cat litter/pan, and can opener.
  • Flea Control
  • Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions/history, behavior problems, and the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to foster or board your pets.
  • Important contact information just in case you and your pet are separated.
  • Pet beds and toys, if easily transportable.

Know What To Do As a Disaster Approaches 

Often, warnings are issued hours, even days, in advance. At the first hint of a disaster, act to protect your pet.

  • Call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets.
  • Check to be sure your pet disaster supplies are ready to take at a moments notice.
  • Bring all pets into the house so that you won't have to search for them if you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification. Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, or of a friend or relative outside the disaster area. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet's ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen.
  • You may not be home when the evacuation order comes. Find out if a trusted neighbor would be willing to take your pets and meet you at a prearranged location. This person should be comfortable with your pets, know where your animals are likely to be, know where your disaster supplies kit is kept, and have a key to your home. If you use a pet-sitting service, they may be available to help, but discuss the possibility well in advance.
  • Planning and preparation will enable you to evacuate with your pets quickly and safety. Bear in mind that animals react differently under stress. Outside your home and in the car, keep dogs securely leashed. Transport cats in carriers. Don't leave animals unattended anywhere they can run off. The most trustworthy pets may panic, hide, try to escape, or even bite or scratch. And, when you return home, give your pets time to settle back into their routines. Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.

Caring For Birds in an Emergency

Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier. In cold weather, wrap a blanket over the carrier and warm up the car before placing birds inside. During warm weather, carry a plant mister to mist the birds' feathers periodically. Do not put water inside the carrier during transport. Provide a few slices of fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content. Have a photo for identification and leg bands. If the carrier does not have a perch, line it with paper towels and change them frequently. Try to keep the carrier in a quiet area. Do not let the birds out of the cage or carrier.

About Other Pets

Small mammals (hamsters, gerbils, etc.) should be transported in secure carriers suitable for maintaining the animals while sheltered. Take bedding materials, food, bowls, water, and water bottles.