Disaster Supply Kit
Fire Safety Tips
Returning home after a disaster
Winter Storm information
Chemical Release Situations
Federal Emergency Management
Online Registration Form
KNOWING WHAT TO DO IS YOUR BEST PROTECTION
Would you and your family be prepared to cope with an emergency for up to 72 hours
until help arrives? Disasters can happen anywhere at anytime. You can prepare in
advance for a disaster. You can plan ahead by having a Disaster Plan ready and having
a Disaster supply kit available so you and your family and undergo an evacuation
or if you are confined to your home for a period of time.
Tornadoes can occur at any time of the day or night, during almost any month of
the year. In Michigan tornadoes can occur at anytime, but primarily from the months
of April through October. Tornadoes are the most brutal of storms. Winds speeds
can reach over 200 miles per hour and can destroy anything it comes in contact with.
Tornadoes can quickly form and can travel for miles along the ground, lift, and
suddenly change directions and touchdown again. There is little you can do to protect
your property, however, many actions can be taken to protect yourself and your family.
Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and tornado warning is one of the
first steps in being prepared.
A Tornado Watch means weather conditions are
favorable for the formation of a tornado. When a tornado watch is issued be prepared
to watch the weather and take shelter if conditions worsen.
A Tornado Warning means a tornado funnel cloud
has been sighted or indicated by radar. When a warning is issued you and your family
should take cover immediately. Tornadoes can form and move quickly. There may not
be time for the National Weather Service to issue a warning or time for the local
official to accurately warn the citizens of St. Clair County of a pending tornado.
It is extremely important for you to be alert during a storm.
Take shelter immediately if you observe a twisting, funnel shaped clouds, large
hail, strong winds, and loud roaring noise like a train or plane. Always be alert
to the changing weather conditions. Take shelter immediately if you hear a tornado
siren or see a funnel cloud. It is important to stay calm and tune into a portable
radio for storm updates or instructions. If you live in an area where there is a
designated shelter for you and your family to go it is important to know where it
is before you need it.
WHAT TO DO DURING A STORM:
- Stay away from windows.
- In a home or building move to a pre-designated shelter where your disaster supplies
kit is located.
- If underground shelter is not available, move to the inner most room on the lowest
level of the building or home.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead, leave it immediately. Find a
low-lying area on the ground, (i.e. a ditch or culvert) and crouch down to the ground.
- Listen to your local radio station for current weather updates
- Do NOT call 911 for general information - only call if you have an emergency!
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA)
FEMA is an independent federal agency with more than 2,600 full time employees.
They work at FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C., at regional and area offices
across the country, at the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, and at the
FEMA training center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. FEMA also has nearly 4,000 standby
disaster assistance employees who are available to help out after disasters. Often
FEMA works in partnership with other organizations that are part of the nation's
emergency management system. These partners include state and local emergency management
Advising on building codes and flood plain management...teaching people how to get
through a disaster...helping equip local and state emergency preparedness...coordinating
the federal response to a disaster...making disaster assistance available to states,
communities, businesses and individuals...training emergency managers...supporting
the nation's fire service...administering the national flood and crime insurance
programs...the range of FEMA's activities is broad indeed.
Right now there are over 2,000 lightning storms around the world. In the United
States close to 200 people die each year from being hit by lightning or from fires
caused by lightning. Lightning hits the highest objects, being houses, towers, or
a person standing alone.
Here are several important facts about lightning that can help you if you are caught
in a thunderstorm with lightning.
- Get off of motorcycles, bicycles, and golf carts.
- Get off from tractors and other metal farm equipment.
- Put down golf clubs.
- Stay away from open water.
- Avoid isolated tall trees.
- Do not stand in a small isolated shed or other small buildings in the open.
- Do not go near wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, and rails, which could carry
lightning to you from a distance away.
- Do not lie flat on the ground.
- If you are in a open area go to a low place such as a ditch or valley.
- Unless you are on a portable or cell phone, hang up until the lightning has passed.
Lightning can travel along telephone lines and injure or kill you.
- Your house is the safest place to be in a lightning storm. If you are inside, stay
there. Avoid windows and electrical appliances.
If someone is hit by lightning call 911 immediately and administer emergency first
aid to the person.
Preparation for a winter storm is the best method for minimizing injury or damage
during one. There will be little time to move to protected areas once a winter storm
is in the immediate vicinity. Follow these important steps to prepare yourself and
your family for the storm.
- Listen to your local radio or television newscasts for the latest information or
- Learn evacuation procedures and routes for your area.
- Keep your car fueled and in good condition in case evacuation is required
- Have emergency supplies and have them on hand in case a winter storm approaches.
- Keep a snow shovel, rock salt to melt ice, sand to improve traction, flashlights,
fresh water, and non-perishable foods handy.
- Prepare for possible isolation in your home.
- Make sure you have emergency heating equipment and fuel so you can keep at least
one room in your house warm in the event regular fuel sources are cut off.
- If you have a wood stove or fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood.
- If you have a gas furnace or heater, be sure that your fuel supply is abundant.
- Kerosene heaters are another option; however, check with your local fire department
to see whether they are legal in your community.
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand and make sure your family knows how to use it.
- Winterize your home to conserve your fuel supply and same money.
- Insulate walls, attics, and caulk and/or weather-strip doors and windows.
- Have several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight; warm clothing rather than one
layers of heavy clothing for each person. Have a good supply of coats, hats, mittens,
gloves, and scarves.
Most Flooding is caused by slow-moving thunderstorms and heavy rains. Flooding debris
or ice can accumulate at a natural or man-made obstruction and restrict the flow
of water. Flash flooding can occur downstream if this obstruction should suddenly
release. Find out how many feet your property is above or below possible flood levels
in order to determine if you could be flooded. Losses due to flooding are not covered
under most homeowner's policies. In flood-prone communities, the National Flood
Insurance Program makes flood insurance available.
Know the difference between a Flash Flood Watch
and Flash Flood Warning. A
Flash Flood Watch mean heavy rains are occurring or expected to occur
and may soon cause flash flooding in certain areas. A Flash
Flood Warning means heavy rain is occurring and immediate those threatened
should take action.
Before a possible flood make an itemized list of personal property in your residence
take pictures if possible. Keep your insurance policy and a list of personal property
in a waterproof box or at a relative's house in a safe location. Open basement windows
to equalize water pressure on the foundation and walls.
If you must evacuate keep these suggestions in mind.
- Disconnect any electrical appliances.
- Shut off water, gas and electricity, if you are instructed to do so.
- Leave early enough, if possible, to avoid flooded roads.
- If the water in the street outside your house is deeper then a foot, do not attempt
to drive away.
- If the water outside your house is deeper then 3 feet and/or seems to be rising
or flowing fast, take a flotation device (such as a couch cushion) with you when
you leave. Take one device for each person leaving.
- Make sure that pets are free to swim with you, but do not attempt to carry larger
pets; you could both lose your lives.
- Plan ahead. Know where to go if told to evacuate. Never try to walk, swim, or drive
through swift moving waters. Six inches of fast moving floodwater can knock you
off of your feet, and a depth of two feet will float your car.
Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them
through layers of clean cloth. The following are four purification methods. The
first three, boiling, chlorination, and purification tablets, will kill microbes
but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, other chemicals,
and radioactive fallout. The final method, distillation, will remove microbes as
well as other contaminants, including radioactive fallout.
Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for
10 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before
drinking. Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring
it back and forth between two containers.
Chlorination uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms. Add two drops of
liquid bleach containing 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite with no soap for each quart of
water (four if the water is cloudy). Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water
does not taste and smell of chlorine at that point, add another does and let stand
another 15 minutes.
Purification tablets release chlorine or iodine. They are inexpensive and available
at most sporting goods stores and some drugstores. Follow package directions.
There are many ways to purify water. None is perfect. Often the best solution is
a combination of methods.
CHEMICAL RELEASE SITUATIONS
If you are outdoors, gather your family and pets and go indoors or get into your
automobile. Once inside, close all windows and doors; turn off pilot lights; and
shut down all ventilation equipment such as heating and air conditioning units.
Put out fireplace fires and close dampers. Turn on your local radio or television
station for more instructions.
If you are outdoors and cannot get inside, move crosswind (so the wind is blowing
on the side of your face). This offers the best advantage for getting out of the
path of the release and into a safe area. A wet cloth or towel over your nose and
mouth will act as a filter and offer some protection.
When authorities have given the all-clear, move outdoors. In addition open all windows
and doors, and start up the heating or air conditioning units to aide in removing
any contaminated air that may have entered during the chemical release.
If you are advised to evacuate your home or business remember to...
- Follow the instructions and advice of your local government.
- If asked to evacuate do so immediately.
- If you are asked to go to a certain destination, respond there and do not go anywhere
else. Accountability is very important.
- If you are asked to take a certain route use the route rather than trying to find
short cuts on your own. If you take a short cut you could put yourself and family
in danger if the short cut is in a contaminated area.
- If you are asked to shut off your water, gas or electric service before leaving
home, do so. If you are unaware on how to do this notify a neighbor for emergency
worker to help you.
RETURNING HOME AFTER A DISASTER
Cleaning up after a disaster can be a long and strenuous procedure. Depending on
the kind and amount of damage your property sustains, you should seek professional
assistance. Use only reputable contractors who check out with the Better Business
Bureau. Keep all receipts for materials and labor for insurance and reimbursement
purposes. Follow these helpful tips:
- Before going inside, walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for
loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage.
- Do not enter if floodwaters remain around the building.
- If you have any doubts about the safety, have your home inspected by a professional
- Wear sturdy work boots and gloves. Enter the building carefully and check for damage.
- Watch out for animals.
- Use a stick to poke through debris. Check for cracks in the roof, foundation, and
- If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.
- Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors.
- Keep a battery-powered flashlight for lights on hand. Do not use oil, gas lanterns,
candles or torches. Leaking gas or other flammable materials may be present. Do
- Check for gas leaks, starting at the hot water heater. If you smell gas or hear
a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main
gas valve from the outside if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor's house.
- If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to
turn it back on. Do not turn on the lights until you're sure they are safe to use.
- Check electrical system. If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if you smell
hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker,
even if the power is off in your neighborhood. Do not touch the fuse box, a circuit
breaker, or anything else electrical if you are wet or standing in water.
- Check appliances. If they are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box
or circuit breaker, then unplug the appliances and let them dry out. Have them checked
by a professional before using them again.
- Check water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve.
Verify the safety of the water with local authorities before using it. If you have
a well, it should be pumped out and the water tested by authorities before drinking.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches and gasoline. Open cabinets carefully. Be aware
of objects that may fall.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left behind by floodwater can contain
sewage and chemicals. Throw out fresh food that has come into contact with floodwaters.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. Throw out flooded cosmetics and medicines.
- If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about 1/3 of the water per
day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement
is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.
- Open windows and doors to get air moving through and patch holes.
- Call your insurance agent as soon as possible. Take pictures of all damages and
keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
DISASTER SUPPLY KIT
In a community disaster, you may need to be able to survive on your own for three
days or more. This means having your own water, food, and emergency supplies. The
following checklist will help you assemble disaster supply kits for each member
of your family.
- A two-week supply of water (one gallon per person per day).
- A two-week supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food
- A non-electric can opener and non-breakable eating and drinking utensils.
- One complete change of clothing for each person, sturdy work cloths, sturdy shoes,
socks, extra underwear, and rain or snow gear.
- Towels, blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags.
- First aid kit that includes a first aid handbook, adhesive tape, bandages, antibiotic
ointments, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, aspirin, spare glasses and contact lens
needs, medications, soap, and thermometer.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlight or lantern, extra batteries.
- Heating source (camp stove or canned heat stove), extra fuel and matches.
- Credit cards, cash, car keys, birth certificates, Social Security cards, driver
licenses, and important household documents.
- Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
- Household bleach or water purifying tablets.
- Paper towels and toilet paper.
- Emergency car kit that includes a battery powered radio, flashlight, lantern, extra
batteries, blanket, booster cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit and manual,
bottles of water, non-perishable foodstuffs, maps, shovel, flares, spare tire, jack,
crowbar, gasoline can, and tire repair kit and pump.
FIRE SAFETY TIPS
Every year 5,500 Americans die in fires and more than 30,000 are injured. Most fire
deaths occur in the home and many can be prevented. Your local fire departments
work to keep citizens informed and practiced in fire safety training. To protect
yourself and your family it is important to understand the basic characteristics
- Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to grab valuables or make a phone call.
- In two minutes a fire can become life threatening. In five minutes a house can be
engulfed in flames.
- Fire's heat and smoke are more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot
air can sear your lungs.
- Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy.
- Request an inspection of your home or business by your local fire department.
- Install smoke detectors. Place detectors on the ceiling or high on the wall of every
level of your house, outside bedrooms, at the top of open stairways, at the bottom
of enclosed stairs, and near (but not in) the kitchen.
- Clean and test smoke detectors once a month and replace batteries at least twice
- Install a fire extinguisher in your home and teach family members how to use it.
- Plan two escape routes from every room in your home or office. Choose a place outside
for everyone to meet after escaping from a fire.
- Have a practice fire drill at least once a year; teach children how to report a
fire, and when to use 911.
- Keep a whistle in each bedroom to awaken the household in case of fire. Teach family
members to stay low to the floor (where the air is safer) when escaping from a fire.
- Teach family members never to open doors that are hot. In a fire feel the bottom
of the door with the palm of your hand. If it is hot, do not open the door. Find
another way out.
- Make sure windows are not nailed or painted shut.
- Safeguard your home against fires by keeping storage areas clean, check wiring and
outlets, and use caution with flammable liquids and materials.
Office of Homeland Security / Emergency Management
200 Grand River, Suite 204
Port Huron, MI 48060