If you are warned of an approaching wildfire, get your family together, then:
- Evacuate your pets and anyone with medical or physical limitations and young children immediately.
- Wear protective clothing.
- Remove any flammable materials like trash, lawn furniture and vehicles from around the house.
- Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source. Check garden hoses and be ready to soak roofs, shrubs and trees with water within 15 feet of buildings.
- Close all windows and doors, and remove all flammable window coverings. Open fireplace damper and close the screen. Close outside attic, eaves, and basement vents. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat. Turn on outside lights and a light in every room for visibility in heavy smoke and distribute flashlights to all family members.
- Fill pools, hot tubs, garbage cans and any other large containers with water.
- Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
- Back your car into the driveway and close all windows.
- Disconnect automatic garage door openers so you can open the door without power, if necessary. Close the doors.
- Monitor news reports so you know the danger you’re facing. Prepare bug-out bags for evacuation and be sure to include your important papers and anything you “can’t live without”. Pack these items into the car.
- If you are told to evacuate, follow routes directed by local officials. Leave doors and windows closed but not locked. It may be necessary for firefighters to gain quick entry to fight fire in your home. The area will be patrolled by sheriff’s deputies or policemen. Fires can change directions quickly, be prepared to change your route if blocked.
- If you’re in a car, roll up the windows and close air vents. Drive slowly with headlights on. Watch for other vehicles and pedestrians. Do not drive through heavy smoke.
- If you have to stop, turn the engine off, but keep headlights on for visibility. Keep windows and air vents closed. Get on floor of auto and cover yourself with a blanket. Call 911.
- If you’re caught in the open, go to a clearing. If you’re close to a road, lie down in a ditch and cover yourself with anything that can protect you from the heat.
- If you evacuated, don’t go home after a wildfire until you’re told it’s safe to do so.
- Hopefully your home is unharmed. Be sure to check roofs and attics for hot spots and sparks and extinguish them immediately. Check every few hours for a day.
- Use caution when entering a building and avoid standing water. There may be an electrical charge.
- Check all utilities and consult a professional if damage has been done.
Billie Nicholson, Editor
In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. In May 2013, tornadoes devastated part of central Oklahoma. This outbreak included the deadliest tornado of the year on May 19 in Moore, Oklahoma. In just one month, November 2013, at least 70 tornadoes spanned seven Midwestern states. In addition, these events included a major flood event and a western drought/heat wave. These events resulted in 109 deaths.
Each year, people suffer or are seriously injured by severe weather despite advance warning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered for the third year to highlight the importance of making severe weather preparedness a nationwide priority.
We all want the peace of mind of knowing that our families, friends, homes and our businesses are safe and protected from threats of any kind. While we can’t control where or when the next disaster will hit, we can take action by preparing ourselves and loved ones for emergencies and learning what actions to take.
Knowing your risk, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you could take to be better prepared to save your life and others.
Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. During active weather, stay alert of the forecast by listening to radio or television, check the weather forecast regularly on weather.gov, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio and listen for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your cell phone. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
Take action: Develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice how and where to take shelter before a severe weather event. Post your plan in your home where visitors can see it. Learn how to strengthen your home and business against severe weather. Take action and participate in a local event on April 30 through America’s PrepareAthon and ensure you know what to do when severe weather occurs.
Be a Force of Nature: Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. Studies show that individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting – be one of those sources.
Reproduced with Permission
Running of Fumes
The ever-fluctuating, and often rising price of gasoline, is causing people to stretching the life of their gas tank to a maximum. But in an emergency, a nearly empty gas tank can create some real challenges.
When natural disasters hit, such as flooding, hurricaines or landslides, people often need transportation to flee the area and find safety. A gas tank less than half full may not allow you to travel as far as necessary, and could place you in a more challenging situation if you run out of fuel and end up on the side of the road.
Get Peace of Mind
Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to keep their gas tank above half. While this requires more frequent stops at the gas station, it can provide peace of mind.
July 11, 2011 Every Needful Thing
Jason M. Carlton
Don’t Leave Home Without Your SunOven®
Evacuating with you Sun Oven® makes sense. Here’s why. You can pack it full of cold items to eat and drink in the shelter. They will stay cool for some time because of its insulated design. When the storm passes, you will be able to set up outside and make a welcomed hot meal. Don’t forget to take your WAPI kit to be able to pasteurize water, too.
October 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson, editor
Searching for a Shelter?
To search for an open shelter, use your cell phone and text SHELTER and enter a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA). The Red Cross will have shelters after a disaster, too. You will be able to search online: Local Chapter. Red Cross also has an iphone Shelter Finder app available in the iTunes Store. They have a website where you can register first and last names and a brief message. Concerned family members can check this site to learn if you are safe and well.
What Do You Need to Know about Shelters?
When you arrive at a public shelter, there are some things you need to know. First of all, make up your mind to be one of the good guys. Every person in the shelter is a refugee, some in better condition than others. Mass sheltering puts many people in a small space, so your part will be limited. Respect the rights and privacy of others. Most public disaster shelters can provide some water, food, medicine and basic sanitary facilities. Keep your emergency kits with you, and in your immediate control, so you will have the specific supplies you need.
Requirements at the Shelter
You will be required to sign in before being admitted to any shelter. The name and contact information of a “next of kin” not in the shelter is required. You will sign an agreement to abide by the shelter’s regulations, which means you will be required to stay until an authority determines it is safe to leave. You will be responsible for your personal belongings. Keep valuables locked in your car or with you at all times, as the shelter will not be responsible for lost, stolen or damaged items. Begin making alternative plans to leave as soon as you are settled.
If you are part of a family in the shelter, plan to take turns on watch duty to make sure your belongings don’t grow legs. Keep your supplies contained and concealed. You will decide if you are willing to share. If you know other families in the shelter, team up to help one another.
Prohibitions in a Shelter
No weapons will be allowed, except those carried by security personnel. No alcohol or illegal drugs are permitted. Parents are responsible for controlling the behavior and location of their children at all times. Keep your space in the shelter clean and organized. Noise levels must be kept low. Quiet time is observed after 11 PM. Be sure to tell the shelter registrar if you have any medical condition that needs attention. You will be referred to a paramedic for treatment.
The amount of time you need to be in a public shelter may be short or long, depending on the conditions that brought you in. Take turns listening to radio broadcasts to stay informed.
Semper Paratus – Always Ready
This Latin phrase is most well known as the motto and the official marching tune for the United States Coast Guard. Perhaps it should become the motto of the emergency preparedness and food storage specialists as well. In the September issue we discussed the basic needs of preparedness. This month, we will continue this conversation beginning with what to do when we have to evacuate. What reasons would cause you to leave your shelter? Make your list of top 10.
When Sheltering in Place is Not Possible
When sheltering in place is not possible and you know you must go, there are some steps to take to secure and minimize future damage to your property.
Assuming that you have already prepared your evacuation kits (each family member has one), often referred to as “bug out bags,” get them into your escape vehicle, which you NEVER , EVER let the gas tank drop below half full.
Identify where you are going, get the address, and look at your maps to determine alternate routes to the shelter before you get on the road. Take the maps with you.
Remember to take your stash of cash. Hopefully, you have small bills and some coins, too, in case you need to have exact change in vending machines.
Grab your important papers, including emergency contact telephone numbers, extra glasses, medicines and any supplies for children and pets. And don’t forget to pack the children and pets.
Secure the following items:
- Find your main electric breaker and turn off the main power switch.
- If you have city water, find your water meter. The shut off valve will be there. This can be a handle (move it perpendicular to the pipe) or a knob (turn it clockwise to close). If you have a well, shutting off the electric will suffice.
- Turn off any natural gas valve. This will be at the gas meter. May need a wrench.
- Secure outdoor furniture so they do not become missiles.
- Lock all doors and windows.
October 2013, Every Needful Thing Billie A. Nicholson