Shelter in Place
Resources in a Disaster:
Federal Emergency Management Agency: www.fema.gov
Maryland Emergency Management Agency: www.mema.state.md.us
United States Department of Homeland Security: www.ready.gov
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration: www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencyresponse/index.html
American Red Cross-ARC: www.redcross.org
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.bt.cdc.gov
Howard County Government: www.howardcountymd.gov
Howard County Health Department: www.hchealth.org
Maryland State Government: www.maryland.gov
Frequently during disasters, people are asked to evacuate their homes to seek safety in a shelter or another community. However, there are times when the safest thing to do is to stay where you are – indoors. This is especially true for any disaster involving hazardous chemicals. A hazardous chemical could be a solid, liquid or gas. You may not be able to see or smell anything, yet it can still be quite dangerous.
In the event of such an emergency, local officials will advise you to “shelter in place.” This means you should remain inside your home or office or wherever you are and protect yourself there.
- Close garage doors in attached garages. Close any exterior doors.
- Close and lock all windows and interior doors.
- Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace damper.
- Get your disaster supplies kit, and make sure the radio is working.
- Go to an interior room without windows that’s above ground level. In case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed. Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
- Continue listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greater risk in your community.
YOU NEED TO THINK OF THIS AS THE MOST IMPORTANT TO-DO LIST YOU WILL EVER TAKE ON. Officials tell us that in the event of a disaster we need to be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 3 to 5 days, ideally 14 days. We hope none of us ever has to face a major hurricane, flood or terrorist attack. BUT just in case, it’s our responsibility to be ready. Remember it will be easy to do these things now. It will be almost impossible after the fact.
Be sure to include your pets in your disaster plan. Many emergency shelters and hotels will not accept animals. Prepare ahead of time and have a place for your animals during emergencies.
For more information on Sheltering in Place:
Preparation- The Best Defense Against Severe Storms and Tornadoes (FEMA.gov)
Release Date: June 5, 2008
Hurricane Preparedness Tips
Active or not, history has shown that it only takes one hurricane to cause loss of life, billions of dollars of damage and years of recovery.
Whether it’s one storm or three, being prepared is better than the alternative. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, emergency managers are encouraging residents to prepare to be self-sufficient for at least 3 days and maybe for up to two weeks.
NOW is the time to evaluate and update your family preparedness plan and supplies. Are the batteries fresh? Are cell phone numbers and email addresses current? Review or take a class in first aid or disaster response.
Planning can make a difference not only in your life but in the lives around you.
Check out these safety tips:
BEFORE THE STORM
- If you live in a flood-prone area, identify where to go if you are told to evacuate and the safest route to get there. If there is a flood, you may only have minutes to get to safety. Choose several places – a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter. Remember, public shelters and many motels don’t allow pets in their facilities.
- Get ready for a possible power outage by gathering a minimum one-week supply of foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking, such as canned goods, as well as bottled water, flashlights with extra batteries, a first-aid kit and battery-powered radio. If you need to evacuate, make sure you can consolidate these items into a portable ‘go’ kit, like a backpack or duffel bag.
- Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio for National Weather Service reports and severe weather warnings.
- Cut dead trees and limbs that could fall on your home.
- If your home or business is in a flood-prone area, make sure you have a current flood insurance policy (not typically part of a standard insurance policy). A 30-day waiting period is generally required to purchase flood insurance, so take time now to visit your insurance agent to learn more.
- Take pictures of your property before the storm to help validate your claim and remember to take your policies with you if you need to evacuate.
WHEN A HURRICANE IS APPROACHING
- Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A hurricane or flood watch means possible danger. If the danger increases, a hurricane or flood warning will be issued.
- If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one. (Remember, water expands as it freezes, so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water.) Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer. This chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold for several hours if the power goes out.
- Fill your bathtub with water to use for toilet flushing in case water services are unavailable following the storm.
- Bring in garbage cans, lawn furniture and other items that could blow away.
- Fill your car’s gas tank. Functional gas stations will be in short supply in a power outage.
IF HEAVY RAINS OCCUR
- Be aware that floods are deceptive. Avoid already-flooded areas. Floodwaters that are above your knees are dangerous. Turn around and go back to higher ground.
- If you find floodwaters on the road while driving, turn around and find an alternate route. The road could be washed out and rapidly rising water could lift your car and carry it away.
AFTER THE STORM
- Listen to your local radio stations for official disaster relief information and instructions.
- Prepare to be without power, telephone or any outside services for a week or more.
- Watch out for downed power lines, weakened structures, rodents and snakes, and avoid standing water.
- Avoid drinking tap water unless officials say it is safe to do so. Eat only foods you are absolutely sure are safe.
- Be extra careful when handling power tools, gas lanterns and matches.
- Operate generators outdoors only in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. Poor ventilation can result in carbon monoxide poisoning or death.
- Avoid using candles as a light source. Deadly fires can result.
TO LEARN MORE Visit www.ready.gov.