Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready." - Theodore Roosevelt, 1903

Sunday, February 23, 2014

FEMA Disaster Preparation Guide 2014

Dear Readers,

FEMA has put out a pretty basic disaster preparation guide for 2014, the link to the pdf.file for the guide is:
http://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/areyouready_full.pdf

Most of the article below is taken from the 2014 FEMA Preparation Guide, Are You Ready.

I hope you can use some of the information to make your decisions as to how to prepare for your family's needs during a disaster.

There are real benefits to being prepared:

• Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters.

Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a tornado.

They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.

• People also can reduce the impact of disasters (flood proofing, elevating a home or moving a home out of harm’s way, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake) and sometimes avoid the danger completely.

The need to prepare is real.

• Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects, both to people and property.

• If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to be ready as well.

Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.

• You should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area—hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme cold, flooding, or terrorism.

• You should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation.

Using this guide makes preparation practical.

• This guide was developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is the agency responsible for responding to national disasters and for helping state and local governments and individuals prepare for emergencies.

It contains step-by-step advice on how to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

• Used in conjunction with information and instructions from local emergency management offices and the American Red Cross, Are You Ready? will give you what you need to be prepared.

Are You Ready?

Basic Information

In Section 1, Citizens are advised of Basic Information.

"In this part of the guide, you will learn preparedness strategies that are common to all disasters. You plan only once,and are able to apply your plan to all types of hazards.
When you complete Part 1, you will be able to:

• Get informed about hazards and emergencies that may affect you and your family.

• Develop an emergency plan.

• Collect and assemble disaster supplies kit.

• Learn where to seek shelter from all types of hazards.

• Identify the community warning systems and evacuation routes.

• Include in your plan required information from community and school plans.

• Learn what to do for specific hazards.

• Practice and maintain your plan."  

Natural Hazards  

In Section 2, Citizens are advised about Natural Hazards such as Wild Fires, Floods, and so on.

"Part 2 includes information about many types of natural hazards. Natural hazards are natural events that threaten lives, property, and other assets.   Often, natural hazards can be predicted. They tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because they are related to weather patterns or physical characteristics of an area.

Natural hazards such as flood, fire, earthquake, tornado, and windstorms affect thousands of people every year. We need to know what our risks are from natural hazards and take sensible precautions to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.

Use Part 2 to learn about the hazards that pose a risk to you. Include the pertinent information in your family disaster plan.

Specific content on each hazard consists of the characteristics of that hazard, terms associated with the hazard, measures that can be taken beforehand to avoid or lessen the impact of these events, and what individuals need to do during and after the event to protect themselves.

When you complete Part 2, you will be able to:

• Know important terms.

• Take protective measures for natural hazards.

• Identify resources for more information about natural hazards."  

Technological Hazards  

In Section 3, Citizens are educated in what is being termed "Technological hazards" which include hazardous materials incidents and nuclear power plant failures.

"Usually, little or no warning precedes incidents involving technological hazards. In many cases, victims may not know they have been affected until many years later.  

For example, health problems caused by hidden toxic waste sites—like that at Love Canal, near Niagara Falls, New York—surfaced years after initial exposure.

The number of technological incidents is escalating, mainly as a result of the increased number of new substances and the opportunities for human error inherent in the use of these materials.

Use Part 3 to learn what actions to include in your family disaster plan to prepare for and respond to events involving technological hazards.

Learn how to use, store, and dispose of household chemicals in a manner that will reduce the potential for injury to people and the environment.

When you complete Part 3, you will be able to:

• Recognize important terms.

• Take protective measures for technological disasters.

• Know what actions to take if an event occurs.

• Identify resources for more information about technological hazards."

Terrorism  

Part 4 deals with preparations for a Terrorist Attack.  

"Throughout human history, there have been many threats to the security of nations. These threats have brought about large-scale losses of life, the destruction of property, widespread illness and injury, the displacement of large numbers of people, and devastating economic loss.

Recent technological advances and ongoing international political unrest are components of the increased risk to national security.

Use Part 4 to learn what actions to include in your family disaster plan to prepare for and respond to terrorist threats.

When you complete Part 4, you will be able to:

• Recognize important terms.

• Take protective measures for terrorist threats.

• Know what actions to take if an event occurs.

• Identify resources for more information about terrorist threats."  

Recovering from a Disaster

Part 5 has Health and Safety Guidelines

"Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being.

If assistance is available, knowing how to access it makes the process faster and less stressful.

This section offers some general advice on steps to take after disaster strikes in order to begin getting your home, your community, and your life back to normal.

Your first concern after a disaster is your family’s health and safety. You need to consider possible safety issues and monitor family health and well-being.

Aiding the Injured

Check for injuries.

Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury. If you must move an unconscious person, first stabilize the neck and back, then call for help immediately.

• If the victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway, and commence mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

• Maintain body temperature with blankets. Be sure the victim does not become overheated.

• Never try to feed liquids to an unconscious person.

Health

• Be aware of exhaustion. Don’t try to do too much at once. Set priorities and pace yourself. Get enough rest.

• Drink plenty of clean water.

• Eat well.

• Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.

Safety Issues

• Be aware of new safety issues created by the disaster. Watch for washed out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring, and slippery floors.

• Inform local authorities about health and safety issues, including chemical spills, downed power lines, washed out roads, smoldering insulation, and dead animals.

Returning Home

Returning home can be both physically and mentally challenging. Above all, use caution.

General tips:

• Keep a battery-powered radio with you so you can listen for emergency updates and news reports.

• Use a battery-powered fl ash light to inspect a damaged home.

Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering—the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.

• Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.

• Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies.

• Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.

Before You Enter Your Home

Walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.

Do not enter if:

• You smell gas.

• Flood-waters remain around the building.

• Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.

Going Inside Your Home

When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do.

Enter the home carefully and check for damage.

Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors.

The following items are other things to check inside your home:

• Natural gas. 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 residence.

If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to turn it back on.

Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.

• Sparks, broken or frayed wires.

Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water, or unsure of your safety.

If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker.

If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use.

You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.

• Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks. If it looks like the building may collapse, leave immediately.

• Appliances. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out.

Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the power back on.

• Water and sewage systems. If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve.

Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated.

Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking.

Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.

• Food and other supplies. Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with flood-water.

• Your basement. If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third 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 cabinets. Be alert for objects that may fall.

• Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.

• Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damages. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.

Being Wary of Wildlife

Disaster and life threatening situations will exacerbate the unpredictable nature of wild animals. To protect yourself and your family, learn how to deal with wildlife:

• Do not approach or attempt to help an injured or stranded animal. Call your local animal control office or wildlife resource office.

• Do not corner wild animals or try to rescue them. Wild animals will likely feel threatened and may endanger themselves by dashing off into flood-waters, fire, and so forth.

• Do not approach wild animals that have taken refuge in your home. Wild animals such as snakes, opossums, and raccoons often seek refuge from flood-waters on upper levels of homes and have been known to remain after water recedes.

If you encounter animals in this situation, open a window or provide another escape route and the animal will likely leave on its own.

Do not attempt to capture or handle the animal. Should the animal stay, call your local animal control office or wildlife resource office.

• Do not attempt to move a dead animal. Animal carcasses can present serious health risks. Contact your local emergency management office or health department for help and instructions.

• If bitten by an animal, seek immediate medical attention.

Seeking Disaster Assistance

Throughout the recovery period, it is important to monitor local radio or television reports and other media sources for information about where to get emergency housing, food, first aid, clothing, and financial assistance.

The following section provides general information about the kinds of assistance that may be available.

Direct Assistance Direct assistance to individuals and families may come from any number of organizations, including:

• American Red Cross.

• Salvation Army.

• Other volunteer organization.

These organizations provide food, shelter, supplies and assist in clean-up efforts.

The Federal Role

In the most severe disasters, the federal government is also called in to help individuals and families with temporary housing, counseling (for post-disaster trauma), low-interest loans and grants, and other assistance.

The federal government also has programs that help small businesses and farmers.

Most federal assistance becomes available when the President of the United States declares a “Major Disaster” for the affected area at the request of a state governor.

FEMA will provide information through the media and community outreach about federal assistance and how to apply.

Coping with Disaster

The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business, or personal property.

Understand Disaster Events

• Everyone who sees or experiences a disaster is affected by it in some way.

• It is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends.

• Profound sadness, grief, and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event.

• Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover.

• Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal.

• Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.

• Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping.

• It is common to want to strike back at people who have caused great pain.

Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.

Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling. Additionally, FEMA and state and local governments of the affected area may provide crisis counseling assistance.

Helping Others

The compassion and generosity of the American people is never more evident than after a disaster. People want to help. Here are some general guidelines on helping others after a disaster:

• Volunteer! Check with local organizations or listen to local news reports for information about where volunteers are needed.

Note: Until volunteers are specifically requested, stay away from disaster areas.

• Bring your own food, water, and emergency supplies to a disaster area if you are needed there.

This is especially important in cases where a large area has been affected and emergency items are in short supply.

• Give a check or money order to a recognized disaster relief organization.

These groups are organized to process checks, purchase what is needed, and get it to the people who need it most.

• Do not drop off food, clothing, or any other item to a government agency or disaster relief organization unless a particular item has been requested.

Normally, these organizations do not have the resources to sort through the donated items.

• Donate a quantity of a given item or class of items (such as nonperishable food) rather than a mix of different items.

Determine where your donation is going, how it’s going to get there, who is going to unload it, and how it is going to be distributed. Without sufficient planning, much needed supplies will be left unused.

General Water Conservation Tips

• Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. Use it to water your indoor plants or garden.

• Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year!

• Check all plumbing for leaks. Have leaks repaired by a plumber.

• Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow-restrictors.

• Install an instant hot water heater on your sink.

• Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking.

• Install a water-softening system only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation.

• Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.

Bathroom

• Consider purchasing a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models.

Note: In many areas, low-volume units are required by law.

• Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush.

Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow (do not use a brick, it may dissolve and loose pieces may cause damage to the internal parts).

Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.

• Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version.

• Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water for watering plants.

• Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects, and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.

• Avoid taking baths—take short showers—turn on water only to get wet and lather and then again to rinse off.

• Avoid letting the water run while brushing your teeth, washing your face, or shaving.

Kitchen

• Operate automatic dishwashers only when they are fully loaded. Use the “light wash” feature, if available, to use less water.

• Hand wash dishes by filling two containers—one with soapy water and the other with rinse water containing a small amount of chlorine bleach.

• Clean vegetables in a pan filled with water rather than running water from the tap.

• Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste or simply dispose of food in the garbage. (Kitchen sink disposals require a lot of water to operate properly).

• Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Do not let the tap run while you are waiting for water to cool.

• Avoid wasting water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering or heat it on the stove or in a microwave.

• Avoid rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher; just remove large particles of food. (Most dishwashers can clean soiled dishes very well, so dishes do not have to be rinsed before washing)

• Avoid using running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave oven.

Laundry

• Operate automatic clothes washers only when they are fully loaded or set the water level for the size of your load.

Outdoor Water

• Check your well pump periodically. If the automatic pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you have a leak.

• Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs, and trees.

Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. Small plants require less water to become established. Group plants together based on similar water needs.

• Install irrigation devices that are the most water efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of efficient devices.

• Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.

• Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.

• Avoid installing ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless they use recycled water.

Pools

• Install a new water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses 180 to 250 gallons of water.

• Cover pools and spas to reduce evaporation of water.

Editor's Note:

While all of the above is from FEMA, and I have no idea why they feel it necessary to include Car Washing, Lawn Care, or Pools, I do have to admit that a pool would be one way to store water.  

Typical of a government brochure, the FEMA indepth preparation guide is over 200 pages long with all sorts of pictures - and a lot more information.

The link to the pdf.file for the 2014 disaster preparation guide, Are You Ready is:

http://www.fema.gov/pdf/areyouready/areyouready_full.pdf

The guide is very long. But, after reading the entire pdf file, I believe that some of the information is very helpful.

Of course other information such as Car Washing and Lawn Care during a disaster are completely unnecessary.

I mean, let's be honest, the last thing on my list of concerns is whether my car needs to be washed during a disaster - I'm sure I'll have bigger things to worry about.

And while FEMA listed information regarding Being Wary of Wildlife, unless I missed it, I did not see where they covered the issue of personal security during a disaster. 

For that, I'm trying to put something together to address that issue.

Until then, just as with everything else, my advice is to let common sense and your good judgement be your guide at to what you need.

Good luck, and remember preparation is not a bad thing - especially when living in areas prone to natural disasters and such.

Tom Correa

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