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~~~~ EXPECT.


Red Cross


Prepared by:
A merlcan R'C
,~(~(1 ross


American Red Cross

in conjunction with
When emergency strikes, will you be prepared? By taking
the time now to "expect the unexpected" when the time
comes, you will know how to handle the situation properly.
To help you prepare, this book was developed to assist you
in handling natural disasters and many other emergencies.
You will learn how these disasters or emergencies may
occur, how to prepare for them, what to do in times of need,
and how to cope with the aftermath.
This is a serious reference book, and one that can be a valu-
able friend to you and your family.
In addition to being prepared for emergencies, you can
make your community a better place to live. Support your
local Red Cross Chapter or be a Red Cross Volunteer.
Many kinds of emergencies could involve you or any mem-
ber of your family.
Fire. Flood. Hurricane. Cuts. Burns. No matter whether the
emergency is large or small, you can cope far better if you are
prepared. If, indeed, you "expect the unexpected." And know
how to handle it.
For these situations seldom give warning and can be devas-
tating to their victims.
This book was designed to help you understand these situa-
tions, how to react, and how-with proper preparation-to
minimize the potential danger.
The time you take to read it now is an investment in future
safety and protection to you and your family. And it is a book
you will want to keep in a special place for reference.
Maxwell House and the American Red Cross are proud to
be able to be of service to you and your family.
fu~ ~~
1. Emergency Preparedness 17
2. Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts 41
3. Floods, Thunderstorms, and Lightning 59
4. Dangers from Winter and Heat 67
5. Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 81
Emergency Information 95
Chapter 1
Emergency Preparedness

The Master Plan

Checklist of Action Steps
Designing the Master Plan

Home Emergency Supplies

Sanitation Supplies
Safety and Comfort
Tools and Related Supplies
Car Mini-Survival Kit

Specific Points on What to Know, What to Do Before, During,

and After a Disaster
Before a Disaster
During and After a Disaster

How to Report an Emergency

What to Do if You Have to Evacuate

Tips on Safe Drinking Water

How Much to Store
How to Store Safe Water
Emergency Sources for Safe Drinking Water
How to Purify Water
Food Planning to Be Prepared for Disaster
Two-Week Supply
Tips for Emergency Food Storage and Nutrition
Suggested Foods
When the Electricity Is Off
Guide for Reserve Food Supply
How to Prepare a First-Aid Kit
Basic Items
Nonprescription Drugs
Additional Supplies
Special Prescription Medications

Chapter 2
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts
How to Prepare for Fire
Fire Prevention
Living Rooms and Dens
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Basement, Garage, and Storage Areas
Wood and Coal-Burning Stoves
Fireplace Safety Checklist
Christmas Tree Safety
When Fire Occurs
Designing an Escape Plan
Fire Safety Equipment
Fire Caution Outdoors
Fire Safety Tips for Travelers
Burn Victims

Gas Leaks

Preventing Preventable Blackouts
Preparing for a Predictable Power Failure
What to Do in a Blackout
Chapter 3
Floods, Thunderstorms, and
How to Prepare for Possible Floods
Keep Alert
Reaching Higher Ground
After the Flood

Thunderstorms and Lightning

"Killer" Lightning
Tall Objects
Heavy Rains
Hail- the Underrated Hazard
Aftermath of the Thunderstorm

Chapter 4
Dangers from Winter and Heat
Winter Dangers
Wind-Chill Impact
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
Safe Return
Protecting the Elderly
More Cold-Weather Tips
Cold- Weather Survival

Dangers from Heat

Heat-Related illnesses
Caring for the Elderly
Ways to Beat a Heat Wave
Making Air Conditioning More Effective
What to do With or Without an Air Conditioner
Dust Storms
Chapter 5
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and

The Earthquake Game
During an Earthquake
Special Preparations for the Elderly
After the Earthquake
Measuring the Intensity of the Earthquake
Tsunamis: Linked to Major Quakes

Weather Advisories
Terms You Should Know
Preparing for the Hurricane
After the" All Clear"

What to Do
At Home
Mobile Homes
Special Precautions for Schools
In Stores or High-rises
Emergency Information
Emergency Information Sheets
Fill Out Your Card
Special Medical Problems
Known Drug Allergies

Telephone Emergency Information Sheets

Sample Medical Releases for a Minor

Important Family Records

Important Telephone Numbers

First-Aid Kit for Your Automobile

House Diagram


Chapter 1
Emergency Preparedness
The Master Plan
Checklist of Action Steps
Designing the Master Plan
Home Emergency Supplies
Sanitation Supplies
Safety and Comfort
Tools and Related Supplies
Car Mini-Survival Kit
Specific Points on What to Know, What to Do Before, During,
and After a Disaster
Before a Disaster
During and After a Disaster
How to Report an Emergency
What to Do if You Have to Evacuate
Tips on Safe Drinking Water
How Much to Store
How to Store Safe Water
Emergency Sources for Safe Drinking Water
How to Purify Water
Food Planning to Be Prepared for Disaster
Two- Week Supply
Tips for Emergency Food Storage and Nutrition
Suggested Foods
When the Electricity Is Off
Guide for Reserve Food Supply
How to Prepare a First-Aid Kit
Basic Items
Nonprescription Drugs
Additional Supplies
Special Prescription Medications
18 Emergency Perparedness

Can anyone really "expect the unexpected"? Yes, of course.

What it truly means to expect the unexpected harkens back to
the Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared." While you might not
know exactly what specific emergency to expect, you can
indeed be prepared for all emergencies, any disaster. You can
prepare yourself for anything. And for everything.
Being prepared, and being ready to provide those people
you love most with the sort of help and protection you want
them to have in times of critical emergency, take a little time
and some advance planning. Time and trouble that could make
the difference in saving or losing a life.
Use the following list of hazards as a checklist of possible
threats that could affect you and your family:
• Floods Virtually all areas of the United States are
subject to flooding-like flash flooding or
slow flooding.
• Thunderstorms All parts of the United States are subject to
and lightning this threat.
• Winter storms Primarily cold-weather states, although
southern states are occasionally subject to
this threat.
• Heat Primarily the southern United States,
although all states are occasionally subject
to heat waves.
• Earthquakes Greatest threat exists in areas west of the
Rocky Mountains, although midwestern
states are significantly threatened as well.
• Hurricanes Primarily Gulf and Atlantic Coastal areas.
However, inland states often are affected
by heavy rains and flooding resulting from
• Tornadoes Virtuaily all midwestern states as well as
the northeastern United States have signifi-
cant numbers of these storms.
• Fire The universal hazard, a threat to all com-
munities. Fires affect more families every
year than all the above hazards combined.
A review of the chapters in this book will
help you determine if you are at hazard.
Emergency Preparedness 19

The Master Plan

One of the primary things you can-and should-do before
disaster strikes is to prepare yourself and your family for any
eventuality. Create a Master Plan to cover all specifics within
and outside your home that your family will need to know for
times of emergency.
Evaluate which threats may affect you. Prioritize and
examine those threats.
The Master Plan is one you should design, then review at
least once a year with every single member of your family.
For purposes of planning, and throughout this book, the
phrase "the family" is not limited to the traditional mother,
father, and children. It could be taken to mean a "family" of
roommates, a "family" of friends, a "family" of neighbors, or
even a "family" in the sense of residents of an apartment
building. It is a generic term used to mean those living in your
close environs and with and for whom you share responsibility
and concern.
The ranking of concerns for your family are: Safety and
health are first; concernfor property should be secondary.
Assign each family member the responsibility for a specific
task that will be on the list in the Master Plan you create. In
delegating such responsibility, also plan for family members to
take Red Cross training in first aid and CPR.
In your planning, map out evacuation routes for different
types of disaster, such as fire or flood. Drill your family mem-
bers regularly on proper actions for various emergencies-for
example, evacuating in case of fire, or taking shelter within the
home in case of tornado. Also in your planning, think through
and plan for the special needs of various people, such as
infants, the elderly, or the chronically ill.
Ask and appoint a special out-of-town friend or relative to
serve as your contact person if family members become sepa-
rated during a disaster. This is key during daytime hours, when
parents may be at the office and children at school. Make sure
everyone knows who the contact person will be. Check to see
if your designated person has a telephone number that's listed
with the telephone company in case a family member needs to
call Information to get the number. If that person keeps an
unlisted number, appoint another contact person. Instruct fam-
ily members to call that person for directions and emergency
information. Also instruct younger members of your group
20 Emergency Preparedness
how to call emergency Information. Select a location where
you will meet members of your family should you become
separated. Choose a main location with three or four alterna-
tive sites.
In regard to property, utility valves are important, for often
in an emergency these need to be shut off immediately. Learn
where they are and show them to every member of the family.
Teach every responsible person in the household how to oper-
ate the valves properly. Keep the proper tools on hand to work
the valves.
Include in your Master Plan a drawing of the floor plan of
your home, noting escape routes, location of emergency sup-
plies, and utility shutoffs.
File your Master Plan in a place that's easy to find, and
review it regularly with your family and update it. Your birth-
day, the anniversary of the date you moved into your home,
New Year's, or any easy-to-remember regular date is a good
time to set aside for family meetings and disaster drills.
Checklist of Action Steps
Here's a handy checklist of action steps to take as part of
your Master Plan:
o For minimum emergency equipment, get
o flashlight
o radio, battery-operated
o extra batteries for both
o first-aid kit
o an A-B-C-type fire extinguisher
o Maintain a minimum seventy-twa-hour supply of food and
o Have extra prescription medicines and eyeglasses.
o Carry enough insurance of the right kind: homeowner's,
renter's, fire, flood, etc.
o Be aware that not all general insurance policies cover
damage from natural disasters.
o Store your important papers in a safe place, such as a safety
deposit box or even your freezer. It is also a good idea to
duplicate key documents.
o Keep immunizations current for all family members.
o Make a practice of keeping your auto gas tank half filled at
. all times to be ready for any contingency.
o Correct hazards around your home. For instance, strap
down the water heater in earthquake-prone areas, or make
sure cords for electrical appliances are properly placed to
guard against fire.
Emergency Preparedness 21
Designing Your Master Plan
Your Master Plan should start with a drawing of your home's
floor plan on a separate sheet of paper. Show the location of
exit windows /\ and doors ~, utility cutoffs., first-aid kit + ,
emergency supplies 0, food, clothing, tools, etc. Design and
map out fire escape routes.
Make sure everyone in your household is familiar with your
Master Plan. Share your plan with neighbors, friends, rela-
tives, and coworkers. Show it to baby-sitters and houseguests
when you're going to be away. They could use it to direct
someone to a utility shutoff in an emergency.
See pages 123 & 124 sample floor plan & your emergency
floor plan.
Home Emergency Supplies
Following are several lists of items usually available in a
home and regularly used. These comprehensive lists are orga-
nized by category. This section is designed to help your family
identify and organize materials for emergencies that may iso-
late your family at home for extended periods of time, such as
flooding, blizzards, or earthquakes.
Quantities of emergency supplies should be adequate for at
least seventy-two hours. A two-week supply is recommended
as a minimum reserve of water, food, medicine, and other
consumable items.
o Water: two quarts to one gallon of drinking water per
person per day
o First-aid kit: ample and freshly stocked
o First-aid book: know how to use it
o Food: canned or dehydrated. Precooked and/or requiring
minimum heat and water. Include foods that require no
cooking, such as nuts, honey, dried fruit, and chocolate.
Also consider infants, pets, and others who may have
special dietary requirements.
o Can opener, nonelectric
o Blankets or sleeping bags for each member of the family
o Radio: portable, battery-operated; spare battery
o Essential medication and glasses, as required
o Fire extinguisher: A-B-C type
o Flashlight: fresh and spare batteries and bulbs
o Watch or clock: battery or spring-wound
o Escape ladder for two-story home or apartment
o Food for pets
o Money
22 Emergency Preparedness

Sanitation Supplies
o Large plastic trash bags: for trash, waste, water protection,
ground cloth
o Large trash cans
o Hand soap
o Liquid detergent
o Shampoo
o Toothpaste and toothbrush
o Premoistened towelettes
o Deodorant
o Denture cleaner
o Feminine supplies
o Infant care supplies
o Toilet paper
o Newspapers: to wrap garbage and waste; also can be used
for warmth
o Household bleach

Safety and Comfort

o Hat or cap: protection from sun, rain, or cold
o Sturdy shoes: for every family member
o Heavy gloves: for every person clearing debris
o Candles: check for gas leaks before using
o Matches: dipped in wax and kept in waterproof container
o Clothes: complete change kept dry
o Knife: sharp or razor blades
o Tent

Tools and Related Supplies

o Ax
o Shovel
o Broom
o Crescent wrench for turning off gas
o Screwdriver
o Pliers
o Hammer
o Coil of half-inch rope
o Plastic tape
o 'Pencil and paper
o Scissors
o Deck of cards, toys for children
Emergency Preparedness 23

D Barbeque: charcoal and lighter, Sterno stock, or camp stove
D Plastic bags: various sizes, sealable
D Pots: at least two
D Paper plates and cups
D Plastic knives, forks, spoons
D Paper towels
D Heavy-duty aluminum foil
D Fuel for cooking equipment-charcoal, lighter fluid, fuel
for camp stove, Presto logs
Car Mini-Survival Kit
D Nonperishable (")'lei: store in empty coffee cans
D Bottled water
D First-aid kit and book
D Flares
D Fire extinguisher, A-B-C type
D Blanket
D Sealable plastic bags
D Flashlight: fresh and spare batteries and bulbs
D Essential medication
D Tools: screwdriver, pliers, wire, knife, scissors
D Short rubber hose: for siphoning
D Small package of tissues
D Premoistened towelettes
D Paper and pencils
D Nylon cord
D Small metal mirror
D Whistle
D Walking shoes
D Phone money
D Local maps
D Extra clothing and shoes
Wallet I.D. with the following information (especially
important for children):
D Blood type
D Medical problems (allergies, with current information)
D Prescription medication, (name, dosage, prescription
number, and date prescribed)
D Eyeglass/contact lens preparation
D Doctor's name, address, and phone number
D Driver's license or other personal identification
24 Emergency Preparedness

Specific Points on What to Know, What to Do

Before, During, and After a Disaster
Before a Disaster
Plan ahead. Here's what family members should know in
advance of emergencies to use when time and circumstance
allow. As always, personal safety comes first, property protec-
tion second.
I. Teach responsible members of your family to turn off
electricity, gas, and water at the main switch and valves.
Check with your local utility offices for instructions on
what to do, and preplace the necessary tools to perform
these functions.
2. Demonstrate and practice with family members when
and how to escape and show them where the nearest safe
shelter is.
3. Designate a particular place where your family members
should meet in case you get separated.
4. Create a special, well-thought-out plan for the care of your
beloved family pets.
5. Review safety precautions for different types of
disasters. (See following chapters for specifics.)
6. Have members of your family trained in first aid and
CPR instruction. If you need information about classes in
these areas, call your Red Cross chapter.
7. Make sure to keep an extra flashlight, first-aid kit, battery-
powered transistor radio (with extra batteries), and fire
extinguisher in your home, ready for use at any time.
Check them periodically (with each season) to be sure
they are in good working condition.
8. Keep up to date on all immunizations for all family
9. Take the time to talk with your family about possible
disasters. Do not tell frightening stories about disasters
that could set the stage for panic, but rather make certain
each family member knows about the preparations and can
have a quick and confident response should an emergency
10. Maintain a two- or three-day supply of food and water,
You should have a minimum of one-half to two gallons of
drinking water per day per person, stored in plastic jugs. It
is also important to rotate your stock of food and water at
least annually.
Emergency Preparedness 25

II. Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off,

gas stations may not be able to operate their pumps for
several days.Do not store gasoline in your garage
or trunk.
12. Plan several different evacuation routes that deal with the
threats of different disasters. In an actual emergency,
listen to the Emergency Broadcast System on the radio for
possible designated routes.
13. Twice a year conduct a "home hazard inspection." Make
sure to repair immediately any hazards you identify.
14. Teach family members how to call for help (see
following section for specifics).
15. Have family members learn disaster plans for schools and
for companies employing family members.
16. Carry sufficient and appropriate insurance, such as home-
owner's, renter's, fire, flood, and earthquake. It is recom-
mended that you obtain a "replacement" rider if possible.
Have comprehensive lists of all your possessions (backed
up with photographs), including serial and model num-
bers. Keep these on file both on and off the premises in a
safe place, such as a safety deposit box, with a relative or
close friend. Be sure to include copies of important docu-
ments. If the following become destroyed, you will need
to replace:
• Birth certificates
• Driver's license
• Bankbooks
• Insurance policies
• Credit cards
• Title to deeds
• Military discharge papers
• Passports
• Social Security cards
• Marriage and divorce papers
• Warranties
• Income-tax records
• Stocks and bonds
• Auto registration
• Auto title card
• Wills
• Prepaid burial contracts
26 Emergency Preparedness
17. Have extra prescription medicines and eyeglasses in
storage, (the refrigerator is a good spot), as drugstores
may be closed for several days and your doctor may be
18. Arrange for a family member who is outside your area to
serve as an "information center" to relay news about the
welfare and location of family members in your area.
What to Do During and After a Disaster
I. First and foremost, remain calm. Think through the con-
sequences of any action you take. Try to calm down, and
reassure other members of your family.
2. Check for injuries to your family and neighbors. Do not
attempt to move anyone who is seriously injured unless
you feel they are in immediate danger of further injury.
3. Check for fires and fire hazards. Review all possible
sources of fire.
4. Be sure to wear shoes in all areas that are near debris or
broken glass. You do not want to injure yourself.
5. Never touch downed power lines or objects that are in
contact with the downed wires.
6. If you have been evacuated, do not reenter your home
unless public authorities have advised it is safe to return to
the area. When reentering the home, check for damaged
a. Inspect for leaky gas lines by smell only. Do not use
candles, matches, or other open flames, and do not turn
lights on or otf. If you smell gas, open all windows and
doors so gas can escape. Be sure to shut off the main
valve at your gas meter, leave the house immediately,
and notify authorities of the leak. Do not reenter the
house until repairs are made and it is safe to enter. Do
not turn the gas on until the repairs are completed.
b. If water pipes are broken, shut off the main valve that
brings water into the house.
c. If damage to the electrical system is suspected (check
for frayed wires, sparks, or the smell of hot insulation),
turn off the system at the main circuit breaker or fuse
7. If the water is turned off, emergency water may be
. obtained from toilet tanks without chemicals, or from
. water heaters, melted ice cubes, and canned vegetables.
8. Before permitting continued flushing of toilets, check to
see that sewage lines are intact.
Emergency Prepardness
9. If power is off, check to see what foods you have in your
freezer, and plan meals to use up those foods that will
spoil quickly.
10. For emergency cooking, use your outdoor charcoal broil-

I!I ers or camp stoves. Make sure the area around the cooker
is properly vented. Do not use it in a closed area such as a
tent or camper to prevent asphyxiation.
II. Keep your phone line clear. Do not use your telephone
except for a genuine emergency call.
12. Be careful not to spread rumors. Keep wandering thoughts
or speculation to yourself, as they can easily turn into
rumors that can in turn cause great harm in a disaster.
13. Do not go "sightseeing." Keep the streets clear for the
easy passage of emergency vehicles. Your presence might
hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
14. Be responsive to requests for help from the police, fire
fighters, civil defense, and Red Cross personnel. It is
important to cooperate fully with public safety officials.
Help them do their job helping you.
15. Tune your radio to the local Emergency Broadcast System
stations for information, damage reports, and instructions.
16. Report broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
17. If you are not able to get in touch with the fire department
for needed emergency medical treatment, go to the nearest
hospital. First aid, as well as food, shelter, and clothing
are also available at all Red Cross shelters.
18. Be sure to check periodically your emergency supplies to
evaluate their condition. By knowing what your needs are,
as well as what you have on hand, you can revise your
plans accordingly.
19. For information about the welfare or location of separated
family members, do not call or go to the police or fire
20. If your fences or walls have been downed, be sure to fig-
ure out a way to confine pets, lest they get upset and possi-
bly lost in the confusion.
21. After the disaster, contact your insurance agent as soon as
possible and try to compile as comprehensive a list as
possible of all your losses.
22. If you are not insured, or not fully insured, various gov-
ernmental and nongovernmental agencies may be able to
assist. Contact your local government officials and Red
Cross chapter for assistance.
28 Emergency Preparedness

How to Report an Emergency

First and most important is to keep calm. When a fire, hurri-
cane, earthquake, or other emergency happens, it is very hard
to keep from getting overly excited. However, it is easier to
think clearly when you remain calm. Take a few deep breaths
and keep yourself calm.
Each member of your family should know to call your local
emergency phone number to contact the ambulance. There
are special sections in this book for special emergency num-
bel's. Post other emergency phone numbers near or on each
When reporting an emergency:
1. Tell the dispatcher the type of emergency-fire, medical
aid, etc.
2. Give your street address and street name, apartment build-
ing and unit, and city. The name of the complex also is
3. Give the nearest cross street to your address.
4. Give the phone number from which you are calling.
5. Stay on the line to answer any questions. Do not hang up
the receiver until the person to whom you are speaking
hangs up.
6. Speak slowly and clearly; hurry causes mistakes and mis-
7. Have someone at the street to guide the emergency vehicle
to the scene when they arrive.
8. It is wise to have your address posted in a conspicuous
place at all times, easily readable from the street. Your
address numerals should be at least three inches high.

What to Do if You Have to Evacuate

If you have to evacuate your home, are you prepared? Have
you thought through what you might need to take with you?
Now is the time to give some concentrated thought to prepar-
ing your evacuation plan.
By preparing this list in advance now, when you are calm
and collected, you will save precious time should an emer-
gency occur.
Some of the things to take with you in case of evacuation
• Eyeglasses
• Dentures
Emergency Preparedness 29
• Hearing aids
• Prescription drugs
• Special foods (such as formula for an infant)
• Sturdy shoes, boots
• Raincoat, overcoat
• Favorite toy or blanket to comfort a child
• Children's LD .
• Money: cash, checkbook, credit cards
• Driver's license
• Important papers
• Blankets, sleeping bag
• Extra clothing
• Keys
• First-aid kit
• Radio
• Food
• Water
If time allows for you to evacuate your home, remember to
post a message in clear view-and in several obvious places-
where you can be found. Also list the point and place of a
reunion-with several alternatives-in case you and your
family members become separated. Some likely meeting
places include the homes of neighbors, friends, or relatives, a
school or community shelter, or a Red Cross shelter.
In the same place that you keep your list of supplies should
you need to evacuate, it is a good idea to keep some prepared
cards with information about reunion places, addresses, and
phone numbers.
And, as noted earlier, your "Master Plan" should include
the name of an out-of-town person you and family members
can contact in times of emergency. List that person's name and
number along with the information about a local meeting spot.
When you evacuate, you need to move quickly. One way to
take articles from the house when you're in a hurry is to put
them in a large trash bag, or place a blanket on the floor, put
the articles on it, gather up the four corners, and drag it from
the house.
Moving quickly and calmly is paramount.
Some important telephone numbers you'll need in times of
such emergency include:
m!I • Fire department
• Police
• Poison control center
• Doctor
IL:I • Ambulance
30 Emergency Preparedness

Tips on Safe Drinking Water

The importance of having drinking water available that is
safe cannot be underestimated. The human body is composed
primarily of water, and it has been proven that you can survive
several weeks without food-yet you can survive only a few
days without water.
It is wise that you have on hand at all times a two-week
supply of water for each member of your family. Reserve and
store that water right now, while this book is in your hand,
while the thought is on your mind.

How Much to Store

It takes at least one-half gallon of safe drinking water per
day to supply the average needs of a normally active person
during moderate weather. In times of emergency, some of that
need for water can be met in other ways, such as using the
juices from canned fruits and vegetables. In computing how
much water to store per person for two weeks, also factor in
that additional water will be required for bathing, brushing
teeth, and washing dishes.

How to Store Safe Water

The large plastic gallon-size jugs that contain milk or juice
are excellent for storing water. Also good are the five-gallon
jugs available from water distributors. Mark the containers
clearly with the date of storage. Put in your Master Plan to
check the date of the emergency water supply, and plan to use
it or discard it frequently.
Keep your reserve water in a cool, dark location.

Emergency Sources for

Safe Drinking Water
In coping with an emergency, just as you are learning to
"expect the unexpected," you also must learn to discover the
basic necessities in unexpected places. Such is the case with
locating water. Some unexpected yet logical places to get
water are from ice cubes, from your hot-water tank, and from
your toilet tank (not the bowl). However, do not drink water
from the toilet tank if a chemical disinfectant or purifier has
beeri added to the water.
If using the hot-water tank as a source of water, to get a free
flow of water it sometimes is necessary to open the valve at the
Emergency Preparedness 31

top of the tank as well as the faucet at the bottom of the tank.
You can also increase the flow of water if any hot-water faucet
in your home is turned on before draining water from the hot-
water tank.
Important note: Be sure to turn off the gas or electricity to
the tank before you drain off water for your emergency use.

How to Purify Water

There are three basic methods of purifying water. Depend-
ing on the state of emergency you find yourself in, you can
select from the following methods:
1. Boiling water
Boil the water vigorously for one to three minutes. To
improve the taste of the boiled water, pour it from one
container to another several times.
2. Water purification using tablets
You can purchase these tablets at any camping or sporting
goods store as well as at a drugstore. If they are not out on
the open shelf, ask the druggist for the tablets-some-
times they are stored behind the counter. They have a
fairly long shelf life and are a good investment. They are
useful especially for emergencies to sanitize potentially
contaminated water that cannot be boiled. Follow the
directions on the package of tablets.
3. Water purification using bleach
The liquid household bleach you have on hand for laundry
and cleaning can also be used. It must contain hypochlo-
rite, preferably 5.25 percent.
Add bleach according to the following table, then stir and

Amount of Water ClearWater Cloudy Water

I quart 2 drops 4 drops
I gallon 8 drops 16 drops
5 gallons 112 teaspoonful I teaspoonful
32 Emergency Preparedness

Food Planning to Be Prepared for Disaster

In America, in our time, it's easy to take it for granted that
there's an adequate food supply. To change that perception, all
it takes is one critical emergency, because disaster can dramati-
cally disrupt the food supply at any time.
The emergency ordisaster may be localized or it may be
widespread. It may be as major as an earthquake-or as seem-
ingly minor as a blocked road, or perhaps a water main failure.
Whatever form the emergency takes, it is good to have a sup-
ply of emergency foods on hand, as the same material in your
reserve supply will serve you in any situation.
Your supply of emergency rations can be made up of those
foods your family prefers in meals every day. There is no need
to rush out and buy large supplies of food you have never even
tried. No special foods are necessary-rather, the canned
foods, dry mixes, and the other staples you have on your cup-
board shelves are well suited to emergency plans.
Not only does using foods your family regularly enjoys
make~reparation for emergencies easier, but also using foods
that are familiar is important. The familiar can lift morale and
give family members a feeling of security in times of stress.

Two- Week Supply

The minimum emergency food you need is a supply for two
weeks. Even though you probably won't be on your own for
that long, prepare an amount that can carry you through. Your
two-week supply of water and food can go a long way toward
relieving a great deal of inconvenience and uncertainty during
the immediate postdisaster period until you have orderly ser-
vices and systems restored to you. Evaluate your particular
needs based on the chart on hazards earlier in this chapter.
Right now you may already have a two-week supply of food
on hand in your pantry or on the cupboard shelves. Check it
out to reassure yourself. To maintain that reserve is a simple
matter of use and replacement.
In the area of safety, commercially canned foods will keep
almost indefinitely, as long as the cans are not leaking or bulg-
ing. However, your emergency food supply should be of the
highest quality possible. This means good color, flavor, and
appearance. Considering this, it is optimum if you rotate the
supply once or twice a year.
Emergency Preparedness

Tips for Emergency Food Storage and Nutrition

• Make it a rule to eat at least one square meal a day .
• Drink adequate amounts of liquid-water, soup, juices,
beverages-to enable your body to function properly .
• Variety may be limited, but calories should be ample to meet
energy needs and to provide the protein to do important work .
• In your disaster planning, experiment by serving your family
a meal from a "disaster" menu. Practice by serving your
family a disaster meal once a month so they will be familiar
with survival food preparation .
• Choose foods your family likes .
• Keep food in the driest and coolest spot in the house, and
choose a dark area if possible .
• Keep food covered at all times .
• Open food boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them
tightly after each use .
• Wrap bread, cookies, or crackers in plastic bags and keep
them in tight containers .
• Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits, or nuts into
screw-top jars or airtight tin cans because insects and rodents
may be a problem .
• Don't forget canned and nonperishable foods for your
beloved pets!
• Foods in glass bottles and jars may break when a disaster
occurs. Buy emergency foods in cans whenever possible.

Suggested Foods
The following items have a fairly long shelf life and are
suggested for disaster and emergency use, as they need no
refrigeration before opening:
• Canned protein foods: tuna, lunch meat, ham, beef, chicken,
salmon, sardines
• Canned vegetables: green beans, corn, carrots, peas, spin-
ach, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, turnip greens, etc .
• Canned fruits: applesauce, pineapple, fruit cocktail, pears,
apricots, peaches, plums, etc .
• Fresh fruits: apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges, lemons,
grapes, apricots
The following foods might also be kept on hand (note that
not all of them have a long shelf life):
• Sweets and nuts, dried fruits, seeds, raisins, prunes, peanuts,
assorted nuts, sunflower seeds, etc.
Emergency Preparedness

• Nonfat or low-fat milk; evaporated milk if used within one

day after opening and kept at cool room temperature
• Teabags; instant tea, coffee, or cocoa; fruit juices
• Peanut butter
• Jelly, jams, preserves, honey, molasses
• Small chunks of hard cheese, if used within a few days
• Bread wrapped in its original wrapping
• Dry, crisp crackers in metal container
• Ready-to-eat cereals
• Oatmeal cookies or crackers
• Salt, pepper, sugar, seasonings
• Bouillon, flavored beverages
• Flavored extracts, soda, baking powder
• Hydrogenated fats, vegetable oils
• Margarine in container
• Catsup or prepared mustard
• Instant puddings


Often in a disaster situation one of the first things to go is the
electricity. Then you're stuck with no gas or electricity for
cooking. But by learning to look to the unexpected, you can
use a charcoal grill, hibachi, or camp stove for necessary
Remember: Such cooking is for outdoors only!
You'll also be able to heat food with candle warmers, chaf-
ing dishes, or even fondue pots. Just as campers do, you can
heat canned food in the can, but be sure to remove the paper
label and open the can first.

When the Electricity Is Off

I. Use perishable foods and foods from the refrigerator first.
2. Use foods from the freezer. Keep a list of freezer foods on
the outside, so you can cut down on the number of times
you have to open the freezer door. Foods in a well-filled,
well-insulated freezer do not begin to spoil as quickly.
Usually there will still be ice crystals in the center of the
foods for at least three days after a power failure-so you
know they are safe to eat. If in doubt, do not use the food.
3. Begin to use nonperishable foods and staples.
Emergency Preparedness
Guide for Reserve Food Supply
Amount per adult for:
Kind of Food I Day 2 Weeks Remarks
Milk Equivalent Equivalent 7 qts. = 8 tall cans of evaporated milk or
01'2 (8-oz.) of? qts. 1'12 Ibs. of nonfat dry milk
glasses fluid fluid
Commercially 2 servings 28 servings One serving is:
canned meat, (8-9Ibs.) Canned meat, poultry, fish: 2-3 ozs.
poultry, fish,
Canned mixtures of meat, fish, poultry with
cooked dry
vegetables, rice, macaroni, spaghetti,
beans, peas noodlcs, or cooked dry beans; 80zs.
Condensed soups containing meat, poultry,
fish, or dry beans or dry peas: '12of 1O'I2-oz.
Fruits and 3-4 servings 42-56 One serving is;
vegetables servings Canned juices; 4-6 ozs. single strength
(about 21 Canned fruits or vegetables; 40zs.
Ibs. Dried fruits; 1'12ozs.
canned) Examples: orange, grapefruit, tomato juicc;
oranges, grapefruit, apples, bananas,
apricots; carrots, yams, pumpkins, potatoes,
corn, spinach, turnip greens, kale, prunes,
Cereals and 3-4 servings 42-56 One serving is;
baked goods servings Breads, rolls, pancakes; I
(5-7Ibs.) Cereals, ready-to-eat: '12-1 oz.
Crackers, quick-cook cereals: I oz.
Cookies; I oz.
Flour mixes; I oz. Macaroni, spaghetti,
noodles, rice; dry, 3/4 oz.; canned, 60zs.
36 Emergency Preparedness

Kind of Food I Day 2 Weeks Remarks

Spreads for According Up to I lb. Examples: cheese spreads. peanut and other
bread and to individual nut butters: jams. jellies. marmalades.
crackers practices preserves. syrups. honey, apple, and other
fruit buttt.:r~; relishes, catsup. mustard,
Fats and oils lib. or I pI. Kinds of fats and oils that need no
refrigeration; amount depends on extent of
cooking possible
Sugars, 1-2Ibs. Examples: sugar, hard candy. nuts, seeds,
sweets. nuts. instant puddings
and seeds

Miscellaneous According to individual Examples: coffee, tea, cocoa (instant),

practices and extent of bouillon products, flavored beverage
cooking possible powders. salt and pepper, other seasonings,
vinegar. soda, baking powders

It is important to remember to make special food plans for

elderly or ill persons. A supply of special canned dietetic
foods, strained or chopped foods, juices. and soups may be
Teenagers may need more than the amounts recommended
in the table; younger children may need less.
Select a variety from each food group. Plan for more than
needed. Use portions of food not required by infant for adult's
Emergency Preparedness
How to Prepare a First-Aid Kit
Your first-aid kit can be created in any manner you like-
plain or fancy. In a velvet-covered box ... a wicker basket
... or an old shoe box. The only real requirement is that it be
And when you create it, it should be tailored to fit the needs
of your own family.
For many, a small cardboard box with a lid works very well
as a container. Other suggestions are to use a fishing tackle box
... a cosmetics case ... or a tool box. Whatever shape it
may take, keep the box in an easily accessible place-but one
that is out of reach of small children! Remember special needs
for special folks in your family, such as an extra pair of eye-
glasses, toys for children, sugar for a diabetic, allergy relief,
Basic First-Aid-Kit Items
The following items are recommended as basic items for a
family first-aid kit:
• Sterilized gauze squares (assorted sizes-two, three, four
• Roller gauze (one each of one, two, and three inches)
• Plain absorbent gauze pads (one eighteen-inch, one twenty-
four-by-seventy-two inches)
• Eyepads
• Triangular bandages (three)
• Packet of assorted adhesive dressing (such as Band-Aids)
• Roll of adhesive tape (one-half inch or one inch wide)
• Pair of small scissors
• Pair of tweezers
• Thermometers (one oral, one rectal)
• Tongue blades and wooden applicator sticks
• Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
• Assorted sizes of safety pins
• Cleansing agent - soap
• First-aid book
Nonprescription Drugs
You may want to get a list of preferred drugs and supplies
from your family health professional. Some of the items to be
considered and recommended include:
• Aspirin or acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to reduce fever
or pain
• Antidiarrhea medication
• Antacid (for stomach upset)
38 Emergency Preparedness
• Emetic (to induce vomiting following poisoning)
• Laxative (the addition of fresh and dried fruits to the diet is
also helpful)
• Eyewash (large amounts of water work best)
• Alcohol
• Vitamin supplements

You can make bandages rather easily from sheets torn into
strips. You can also use clean rags, disposable diapers, or
sanitary pads. Dressings can be held in place by using these
strips, or by using men's ties, plastic bags, or nylon stockings.
Be creative and improvise when necessary. As you're planning
to "expect the unexpected," you can also learn to use regular
household items in unexpected, useful ways.

Additional Supplies
Some additional items that you and your family might find
helpful include:

• Plastic bags, small and large
• Paper cups
• Spoons
• Needle and thread
• Splinting material
• Disposable diapers
• Sanitary napkins
• Formula
• Medicine dripper
• Cotton-tipped swabs
• Cold packs
• Hot packs
• Cotton
• Tissues
• Salt
• Baking soda
• Matches
• Premoistened towelettes
• Hand lotion
• Pocket knife
• Elastic bandage
• Extra eyeglasses
• Contact lenses and supplies
• Sunscreen lotion
Emergency Preparedness 39

Special Prescription Medications

It is recommended that you contact your personal physician
for recommendation of specific prescription medicines such as:
• Insulin
• Heart medication
• High-blood-pressure medication
• Other essential medication
It is also wise to obtain specific information from your phy-
sician or pharmacist on labeling, storage, how much to store,
how often to rotate, etc., for your prescription medications.
Some medications have a longer" shelf life" than others, and it
is worthwhile to keep track of what you and your family will

Storage of Your First-Aid Kit

Keep your first-aid kit in an easily accessible place-but
keep it out of the reach of children. It is not meant for play.
Be sure to keep a list of contents taped to the lid of the box.
Periodically check the contents, and restock those supplies
that have been used or are out of date.

Chapter 2
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts
How to Prepare for Fire
Fire Prevention
Living Rooms and Dens
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Basement, Garage, and Storage Areas
Wood- and Coal-Burning Stoves
Fireplace Safety Checklist
Christmas Tree Safety
When Fire Occurs
Designing an Escape Plan
Fire Safety Equipment
Fire Caution Outdoors
Fire Safety Tips for Travelers
Burn Victims

Gas Leaks

Preventing Preventable Blackouts
Preparing for a Predictable Power Failure
What to Do in a Blackout

Fire is a tool, not a toy. Fire can even be useful in putting out
a fire-thus the adage fighting fire with fire. And, while some
fires begin "naturally," such as with lightning, most often fires
are manmade and therefore preventable.
Unfortunately, many of us are lax in using the most effective
means of fire fighting-fire prevention education and fire exit
drills. As a result, fire is among the leading causes of acciden-
tal deaths in the home each year.
The statistics are staggering: In the United States, someone
dies in a fire every forty minutes, with countless others being
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts
maimed or disfigured. Most often these victims are children
and the elderly. In addition, fires are responsible for over two
billion dollars' worth of damage to homes annually.
The leading cause of fire deaths is asphyxiation, not flames.
Fire quickly consumes oxygen in the air, thereby increasing the
carbon monoxide concentration in the air. In addition to the
inhalation of smoke and noxious fumes, superheated air or
gases will result in loss of consciousness or death within min-
utes after temperatures rise to three hundred degrees Fahren-
heit or higher. Therefore, immediate response to a fire is
absolutely essential.

How to Prepare for a Fire

In addition to being the third-largest accidental killer in the
nation, fire is the most likely disaster you and your family are
apt to experience. Furthermore, over 80 percent of all fire
deaths occur where people sleep-in homes, apartments,
motels, hotels, and mobile homes. In addition, most fires
occur when people are sleeping-between midnight and morn-
ing, when people are less alert. Therefore, it is important that
fire safety techniques and escape plans be practiced often
enough to become "second nature" to each and every member
of your family.

Fire Prevention: The First Step in

Fire Safety
Every room in your home is a potential fire hazard. There-
fore, it's important that you and your family be alert to the
potential dangers. The key is to prevent, not put out fires!

Kitchen Safety
All electrical appliances and tools should have a testing
agency label (UL for Underwriters Laboratories, or FM for
Factory Mutual). Electrical appliances (other than ovens, dish-
washers, and refrigerators) should be unplugged when not in
use and the cords and plugs checked for wear. Frayed, worn
cords or plugs should be replaced or repaired. Furthermore, if
there is any evidence that an electrical appliance is not working
properly, make sure it is not used again until it is repaired.
Electrical kitchen appliances pose two additional hazards.
The first-is electrical shock. When water and electricity are
combined, shock will result. In addition to receiving a painful
reminder, shock also can result in an electrical fire. Therefore,
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts 43

follow the three basic rules for operating electrical appliances

in the kitchen: (l) Thoroughly dry hands before operating
appliances, switches, and outlets in the kitchen. (2) Don't
stand in water while operating these devices. (3) Have an
appliance repaired if it gets wet.
The other electrical appliance hazard is the overloading of
outlets. It is important that you not use all electrical appliances
at the same time, and never plug more appliances into a socket
than it is designed to accommodate with safety. If overloading
occurs, locate the source of the problem before replacing a fuse
or repositioning a tripped circuit breaker. Furthermore, always
use the correctly rated fuse in the fuse box, and NEVER try to
replace a blown fuse with a penny or other makeshift fuse
substitute. If there is any smoke coming from an electric motor
or appliance, immediately pull the plug or turn off the power
supply by tripping the circuit breaker or pulling the fuse.
Other important fire prevention rules for kitchen safety
• Store only infrequently used or nonflammable items over the
stove. Not only can the substances catch fire, but also people
often get burned reaching .
• Wear tight sleeves when you cook, since loose-fitting gar-
ments can catch fire .
• Turn pot handles inward so children can't pull them down .
• Make certain you fully understand how to relight the pilot on
a gas range .
• Have an appropriate fire extinguisher on a wall away from
the stove .
• It can also help to have baking soda close to the stove in the
event of a grease fire. Or you may wish to cover a pot or
skillet burning on the range, since fire needs oxygen to burn.
Remember to turn off the power or gas whether the fire is in
the oven or the top burners .
• Dust around stoves, refrigerators, and dishwashers periodi-
cally, since the small spark emitted when these electrical
appliances are turned on can ignite any accumulated dust.

Living Rooms and Dens

One of the first rules for fire safety in the family rooms is
that where there are smokers, there can be fire! Thus make sure
there is an ample supply of ashtrays when smokers are present.
These ashtrays should be large and, preferably, be designed
with the cigarette holders in the center of the tray, since ciga-
44 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts

rettes and cigars can burn down and drop off the edge if the
holders are on the lip of the ashtray. However, care should also
be taken that no smoking materials are left to burn for any
In addition, before going to bed, look under cushions,
couches, and chairs for any smoldering cigarettes. Not only is
there a risk of fire, but also many fabrics produce toxic gases
when burning. Also be particularly careful about emptying
ashtrays before bed-the toilet, never the wastebasket, since
all it takes is one hot ash.
The fireplace is another common fire hazard, requiring par-
ticular caution. Make sure the flue is completely open before
lighting a fire and that the fireplace screen is either metal or
glass. It is also wise to make sure that carpets and furnishings
are a safe distance from the hearth and are made with fire-
retardant materials as well. When starting the fire, use kindling
instead of paper, and burn only wood or manmade logs-
NEVER charcoal. And finally, have your chimney checked
and cleaned regularly, especially if manmade logs are used,
since creosote is one of the components of these manmade
materials and will build up in the chimney, closing off the
draft. (See the special section on fireplace safety in this
Portable heaters may make family rooms cozier, but they
also pose fire hazards if improperly used. Keep these devices
away from people and combustibles such as drapes, couches,
etc. But first and foremost, use only the type and grade of fuel
designated by the manufacturer. For electric portable heaters,
only those with automatic shutoffs should be used.
Although some fire safety rules are self-explanatory-such
as the rule on keeping lighters and matches where small chil-
dren cannot reach them-others may not be quite as self-evi-
dent. For example, special outlet covers should be used to keep
children's fingers out, and never leave an extension cord
ungrounded, since a child could put the live end in his or her
mouth and suffer severe burns.
In addition, fire safety in the family rooms should include:
• Make certain that the television, stereo, and other electronic
devices won't overheat due to lack of sufficient air space.
• TV antennas should be insulated and grounded to protect
against lightning.
• Electric cords should not be run under carpets or hooked over
Fire, GasLeaks, and Blackouts 45
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
The hard and fast fire safety rule is never to smoke in bed.
Indeed, it is strongly suggested that people not smoke in bed-
rooms or bathrooms, since such seemingly harmless activities
as smoking while using hair spray can be extremely hazardous.
In addition, care should be taken in the bathroom while
using electricity: Remember that water and electricity produce
Particular care should also be taken that children's clothing
and bedding be fire-retardant!

Basement, Garage, and Storage Areas

These particular areas of the home often are the most haz-
ardous, often a collector"s dream and a fire fighter's nightmare.
Here most people store gasoline, solvents, and other flamma-
ble liquids; haphazardly stash old clothing and memorabilia;
and use their workbench, often leaving sawdust and wood
chips in their wake. And quite often these areas also are the site
of the heating equipment.
Fire safety in these areas is particularly important and
should include:
o Storage of gasoline and other flammables in tight metal con-
tainers, preferably away from the house and NEVER near
the heating equipment, a pilot light, or while smoking.
o Trash should be sorted and removed. Items to be saved
should never be stored near the furnace or water heater.
(Helpful Hint: Many of these items can be stored in plastic
or metal garbage cans, which are airtight as well as fire-
retardant. )
o Have heating equipment checked annually.

o Keep flammables away from sparks when using your work-

bench, and make sure to clean the workbench area after each
o If a fuse blows or the lights go out, find the cause and correct

it before replacing the fuse or tripping the circuit breaker.

(Replace the fuse with one of the correct size and amperage.)

Wood. and Coal. Burning Stoves

Although coal-burning stoves are no longer common, they
stilI are used in some sections of the country. Since the energy
crisis in the 1970s, however, wood-burning stoves have again
become popular. There are several safety tips that should be
followed when using either heating device:
46 F~e,GasLeaks,andBlackou~
• Make sure the stoves are properly vented to the outside of the
home, and keep a window slightly open while in use to pro-
vide enough oxygen for proper combustion and to prevent
carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Allow plenty of clearance between your wood stove and
walls, curtains, and furniture. NEVER keep kindling, news-
papers, or other flammable materials near the stove.
• NEVER store or use gasoline or other flammable liquids in
the same room with the stove, and NEVER use any of these
fuels to start a fire .
• Use the proper fuel:
I. To prevent overheating, don't use coal, charcoal, plastic,
or paper products in a wood-burning stove.
2. To prevent explosions, don't use flammable liquids on a
wood or coal fire.
3. Don't use charcoal or other fuels not intended for use in
open stoves or fireplaces, in order to prevent carbon mon-
oxide poisoning .
• Try to keep a fire at a moderate heat, neither too cool nor too
hot. If the fire is too low, creosote may build up in the chim-
ney, causing a fire. A low flame also may cause moisture to
condense in the flue and lead to corrosion of metal parts .
• A glowing-red stovepipe is equally dangerous. Never stoke
up a fire so hot that it changes the color of the stovepipe.
Cool the fire quickly by closing the stove dampers and par-
tially closing the stovepipe damper. If that doesn't cool it fast
enough, put a few shovelsful of ashes on top of the burning'
wood or coal.
• Ashes should NEVER be transferred from the stove to a
cardboard box. Hot ashes may be "live" for more than
twenty-four hours and can cause delayed fires. Place ashes in
metal containers ONLY, and discard when cool.
• Don't hang clothes near the stove to dry, since they may
catch fire .
• Educate your whole family in the safe use of a stove or fire-
place. But ALWAYS keep small children away from stoves,
because they can be burned simply by touching the hot

Fireplace Safety Checklist

When done safely, sitting before a roaring fire in the fire-
place will warm home and heart. But without the proper safety
precautions, it could be a heartbreaker!
Fire, GasLeaks, and Blackouts 47
The first rule of thumb is to make certaih that the fireplace
was meant to be used as a fireplace. Sound silly? You'd be
amazed at how many "fireplaces" were designed for decora-
tion-not fires!
Once you've determined that the fireplace is usable:
• Open the damper (flue) before lighting a fire .
• Check regularly to make sure that all vents and chimneys are
clean and operating properly. This is particularly important if
you frequently use manmade logs, since creosote will build
up in the chimney, closing off the flue .
• Don't use too much paper to start a fire. Instead, rely on
kindling-NEVER gasoline or flammable liquids .
• Burn only proper firewood, not trash.
• Always use a metal screen or glass fire doors to prevent
sparks from escaping into the room.
• NEVER burn charcoal in a fireplace (or anywhere else
indoors), since charcoal can give off deadly amounts of
carbon monoxide .
• Follow package directions if you use manmade logs.
NEVER break a manmade log apart to quicken the fire .
• Dispose of ashes properly-outside, in a metal container
with a tight-fitting lid .
• NEVER close the damper with hot ashes in the grate. A
closed damper will cause smoke or allow heat buildup, caus-
ing ashes to flare up again .
• Don't decorate the mantel with flammable materials, to pre-
vent sparks from igniting them and starting a fire.

Christmas Tree Safety

'Tis the season for decking the halls and lighting the Christ-
mas tree. Unfortunately, that's when 'tis also the season for
fires, many of them stemming from the tree itself, whether
natural or artificial.
Natural-tree safety reminders:
• Use a freshly cut tree. Since trees begin losing water within
minutes of cutting, do not accept the salesman's word for the
tree's freshness. Even when cutting your own tree, moisture
will be lost in the trek home. Therefore, cut a section off
from the trunk before putting it into the base. Then fill the
base with water, replenishing the water daily.
• The Christmas tree should be on display for no more than
two weeks. Once it is taken down, get rid of it immediately .
• Place trees away from stairways and such heat sources as
fireplaces, radiators, room heaters, etc., which would dry
48 Fire, GasLeaks, and Blackouts
out the tree and increase the danger of fire. Trees should
never block hallways, doorways, or exits to prevent escape .
• Never allow open flames, such as candles, near a tree .
• If electric lights are used to trim a tree, inspect them to make
sure they have laboratory approval and have no frayed wires
or other defects before installing them .
• Toys, trains, or any device that generates sparks should be
kept away from the tree .
• When lit, the tree should not be left alone. All electrical
decorations should be disconnected at night or when leaving
the house.
• Use only noncombustible decorations such as tinsel, being
especially careful with spray and "angel hair" decorations .
• Fire retardants, whether homemade or commercial, might
not be fully effective if applied to only part of the tree.
Artificial-tree safety measures:
• Do not use electric lights on metal trees.
• If not made of metal, the artificial tree should be noncombus-
tible. Check for the testing laboratory label to make sure the
entire tree-trunk, trunk wrapping, and branches-are non-
combustible .
• Miniature lights can be used with some artificial trees. Fol-
low the tree manufacturer's instructions carefully. Minilights
also should have a laboratory testing label.

When Fire Occurs

When you and your family are thoroughly familiar with all
the fire safety measures needed and are assured that all pre-
ventative measures have been taken, you must then fully
prepare yourself to act if a fire does occur. Remember, fire is
the most common disaster you or your family will experi-
ence, and a timely response to this killer can spell the differ-
ence between safety and casualties.
There are two major tools to avoid tragedies of death and
disfigurement in the event of a fire:
1. escape plans and drills
2. fire safety equipment

Designing an Escape Plan

An escape plan must be devised before a fire occurs. The
sa'mple floor plan in Chapter 1 can be used to help you create
your own plan. This plan should have special provisions for
infants, elderly, or handicapped persons. Once the plan itself is
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts
devised, it should be discussed with all members of your
household until you are convinced that everyone understands
what needs to be done. Then have regular exit drills to make
sure everyone can put the plan into practice.
STEPS TO SAFETY. You and, subsequently, each member
of your family should walk through the main escape route
several times. Since most fires occur between midnight and
morning light, practice in the dark or with your eyes closed.
Try to have everyone memorize the number of steps between
obstacles or turns. And if a piece of furniture keeps getting in
the way, move it.
You must plan alternate routes of escape from each room. If
bedroom windows are too high for safe jumping, perhaps you
should buy a rope or chain escape ladder to keep at the window
of each bedroom.
If you must go through a smoke-filled area, crawl on hands
and knees with your head low to avoid breathing smoke. Fur-
thermore, before opening an inside door, touch the knob and
the top of the door. If either is hot, do not open the door, since
fire on the other side might flash into your room. Instead, use
your secondary route.
If the fire seems to be localized in one room, if possible,
close the door, since it will help contain the fire and delay its
spread to hallways or adjoining rooms.
Escape first. Call later. Precious moments can be lost if you
call the fire department or 91 I from a burning home. Instead,
get out safely, then telephone from a neighbor's home or an
alarm box.
Your escape plan should include a place outside where you
and your family will meet. This will enable you to make sure
everyone is out safely.
Do not return to the house or apartment under any circum-
stances until the fire fighters have assured you that the fire is
fully extinguished and the structure is sound.

Fire Safety Equipment

There are two basic devices that no home should be without:
smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Both may save your
life. The latter may also save your home.
50 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts

Smoke Detectors: Your Early-Warning System

Since most fire deaths are caused by asphyxiation, and usu-
ally at times when people are sleeping, smoke detectors are the
most effective piece of fire fighting equipment you have in
your home. They are so necessary that the National Fire Pro-
tection Association recommends them for all newly con-
structed homes and public buildings, stating that "smoke
detectors shall be installed outside of each separate sleeping
area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on each
additional story of the family living unit, including basements
(but excluding crawl spaces and unfinished attics)." Addition-
ally, many local jurisdictions mandate their installation in all
residences, new or old.
Where sleeping rooms are on an upper level, a detector
should also be placed in the center of the ceiling directly above
the stairway. However, avoid installation in bathrooms and in
areas exposed to heating and air-conditioning vents.
After installation, smoke detectors must be maintained. It is
recommended that each smoke detector be tested once a
month, without fail, to replace dead batteries and to clean
away any dust or cobwebs from the face of the detector.
There are many different types of smoke detectors. You
want a reliable one. This does not mean that it has to be expen-
sive, but it should bear the notice that it is approved by UL
(Underwriters Laboratory), FM (Factory Mutua!), or by your
state fire marshal.
The A-B-C's of Fire Extinguishers
When correctly used, fire extinguishers can keep small fires
from becoming big ones, provide an escape route through a
small fire, and help fight a small fire until the fire department
arrives. However, if there ever is a question of whether to put it
out or get out, opt for safety.
Since there are three major classes of fires, there are also
three different types of fire extinguishers:
Ordinary combustibles Use an extinguisher with the
(paper, cloth, wood, rubber, green "A" symbol on the
many plastics). label.
Flammable liquids (oils, Use an extinguisher with the
gasoline, kitchen greases, red "B" symbol on the label.
paints, solvents).
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts 51
Electrical equipment (for Use an extinguisher labeled
wiring fires, fuse boxes, with a blue "C" symbol.
motors, power tools,
There is also a multipurpose dry chemical extinguisher
labeled A-B-C that is effective in putting out most types of
fires. Your local fire department will be pleased to recommend
the proper types, sizes, and numbers of extinguishers for your
To be safe and effective, however, the fire extinguisher must
be accessible and must be operated by someone who knows
how to use it. Again, your local fire department can be most
helpful in suggesting mounting instructions for your home and
instructing you in the fire extinguisher's use.
For simple operating instructions, remember the word
"P- A-S-S":
P for Pull: Pull the pin or ring (some units require release of
a lock latch, pressing a puncture lever or other motion).
A for Aim: Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
S for Squeeze: Squeeze or press the handle.
S for Sweep: Sweep from side to side slowly at the base of
the fire until it goes out.
All members of the family should be instructed in the use of
fire extinguishers. These instructions and operations should
also be periodically reviewed. However, these instructions are
not complete unless each family member fully understands that
if the fire begins to spread or get bigger, get out!
As mentioned before, in the tips for kitchen safety, baking
soda is very effective for extinguishing cooking fires. There
also are other ordinary household items that are useful in extin-
guishing small, localized fires. To name a few:
• Garden hoses for extinguishing ordinary combustibles.
Hoses should be connected at all times and provided with an
adjustable nozzle. They should reach all sections of the
house. (It is also recommended that a hose be provided for
both the front and the rear of the house.)
• Buckets and similar containers should be kept near water
sources .
• A shovel is very handy for small outdoor areas that can be
controlled by spreading or throwing dirt.
52 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts

Fire Caution Outdoors

Whether camping, barbecueing, or burning leaves, fire can
pose a severe threat to life and limb, your property, or your
neighbors' property. Therefore, extreme caution must be used.

Since many campsites are inaccessihle to fire fighters, the
camper has a responsibility to exercise both judgment and
caution when lighting (and, ultimately, dousing) a campfire.
Campfires should be built in designated areas using provided
grills. If building an open fire, surround the fire with rocks or
dirt, and keep a bucket of water or dirt handy. Make sure all
fires are thoroughly out before retiring or leaving the site, since
embers can burn for hours. Be extremely careful of wind direc-
tion, and make certain that there is no nearby brush or trees.

For the standard grill, follow instructions for using charcoal
lighter fluids carefully. Otherwise there is a high risk of fire.
NEVER pour charcoal fluid or any other highly flammable fuel
directly onto coals that have already been ignited, due to a
chance that smoldering coal may flare up or explode. To
brighten a barbecue fire that is dying down, first pour a small
amount of lighter fluid on a few pieces of charcoal (do it away
from the fire!) and then add the pieces to the fire carefully-
one piece at a time.
If using an electric starter, remember that water and electric-
ity cause shock and sometimes fire. Therefore, outdoor chefs
should be cautious when plugging the starter into an outlet,
being careful that the ground is not damp or that they are not
standing in water. ALWAYS use an insulated indoor/outdoor
cord. Furthermore. when removing the fire starter, make sure
it is placed on a nonflammable object or table that cannot be
reached by children, since the heating element will remain hot
for several minutes after the red color goes out of the coil,
causing fire and/or severe burns.
With gas grills, read all installation and operating instruc-
tions provided by the manufacturer, being careful to use the
exact type of tank and fuel specified. Should the electric starter
fail, use extreme caution trying to relight a pilot, since escap-
ing gas can cause an explosion.
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts 53

Burning Leaves
Most communities now forbid the burning of leaves because
of the high risk of both fire and smoke damage. In areas where
this practice still is permitted, leaves should be burned in areas
away from the house, brush, or trees-preferably on cement.
Also, leaves shOl.ildbe burned in small, controllable quantities,
since this type of fire can easily spread, and wind conditions
change. Make sure there is ample water supply to douse the
embers when burning is complete.

Fire Safety Tips for Travelers

Although most fires occur in places where people sleep,
these fires are not restricted to the home or apartment. Indeed,
some of the most disastrous fires in history have occurred in
hotels, motels, and motorized campers, where fire poses a
threat to sometimes hundreds of people. Remembering the
following instructions could help you remain safe should a fire
occur at the hotel or motel in which you are staying .
• When making reservations or upon arrival at the facility,
inquire about hotel/motel fire precautions .
• Locate fire doors in both directions-that is, count the num-
ber of doors from your room to the fire exits nearest you in
both directions. Check for obstructions such as chairs or
tables, and also note corners .
• Check fire exits. Do they open? Do they open to the outside
of the building? Are they clear or blocked open?
• When you get to your room, note windows. Do they operate?
Where do they lead?
• Check for posted instructions. Make sure it is marked cor-

. rectly, since sometimes room charts are backward or upside


Make sure there is a smoke alarm in the room and that it is
operational. (Most smoke alarms have a glowing red light to
show they are working. If the red light is flashing, notify the
desk, since the blinking light usually indicates that the batter-
ies need replacement.) Also know the location of fire
extinguishers .
• Keep your key and billfold near you at all times (on the bed-
side stand, on top of the TV, etc.). Purchase a small pen
flashlight and roll of two-inch masking tape (to tape the door
if you're forced to stay in the room) to carry with you on
each trip.
54 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts
If a fire breaks out in your room, take your key and leave
your room immediately, closing the door behind you. Pull the
nearest fire alarm and, if there is time, knock on doors near you
to alert people. Then proceed to the nearest fire exit, using the
stairs to go to the ground level. NEVER take the elevator when
there is a fire, since you may be trapped if the elevator stops.
Remember, most fire-related deaths are due to asphyxiation,
not the fire itself.
If you are notified of a fire in the hotel, follow posted emer-

'8 gency instructions. Usually you will be instructed to:

• Take your key and go to your door. Use your hand to check
the temperature of the door. If it is hot, do not open it.
Instead, assume that you are trapped in your room .
• If the door is cool, place your foot at the base of the door,
one hand on the knob and the other bracing the door. Open
just a crack, and check for smoke or heat. If no smoke is in
the air, move to the exit and proceed down the steps and
outside .
• If no stairs are clear, return to your room. If the hall is hazy,
crawl down the hall, counting the doors to the nearest exit.
• Do not jump from high windows, and NEVER try to make
ropes from sheets or blankets.
If you are trapped in your room:
• Remain calm. Do not panic. Wait for help, since the fire
department will give you instructions .
• Fill the tub with cold water. Stuff wet towels or cloths under
the door, and use the masking tape to tape the top and sides
of the door to keep out smoke and fumes .
• If smoke fills the room, hold a wet towel to your face. Stay
low, close to the floor and as near to a window as possible .
• Know where you are, using the pen flashlight if necessary.
Remember, even in familiar surroundings it is easy to
become disoriented in a dark room filled with smoke.

Tips for Burn Victims

It is absolutely essential that burns get immediate, almost
reflex attention. Even a minor burn can cause scarring, with
more severe burns leading to shock trauma, infection, and
If clothing catches fire, many people try to run away from it
or wave their arms or legs as if they were trying to shake out a
match. Instead, they succeed only ~nfanning the flames.
Remember, fires need oxygen to burn. The absolute rule when
clothing catches fire is STOP. DROP. and ROLL. Stop wher-
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts 55
ever you are, drop to the floor, and roll over and over to
smother the flames. (If readily accessible, you might grab a
coat or blanket and roll another person in it to prevent igniting
your own clothing.)
Cool a burn. Put cool water or ice on burned skin immedi-
ately. (Do not put grease or ointment on a burn, since it will
seal the skin and prevent air from getting to the wound.) If
the skin blisters or is blackened, seek immediate medical

Gas Leaks
Natural gas is a popular fuel for heating, cooking, and oper-
ating certain appliances because it is clean, efficient, and,
normally, trouble-free. However, if natural gas is allowed to
escape into the atmosphere, there is an immediate danger of
fire, explosion, or asphyxiation. For this reason, natural gas,
which normally is odorless, is given an odor-so your nose
knows that there is a leak. The gas will smell most strongly
near the leak. However, if you smell gas, actfast-before
trying to discover where it's coming from.
First, open all the windows. Then check to see that all the
gas taps are turned off. The next step is to turn off the gas at the
main, which normally is next to your meter on the inlet pipe.
Using a wrench, give the shutoff valve a quarter turn in either
direction so that it runs crosswise on the pipe. Then call the gas
company immediately.
Even after determining where the gas odor is strongest, you
may not be able to pinpoint the leak. You may wish to try
applying warm, sudsy water in the general area of the leak.
Escaping gas will cause the soapy water to bubble up. Under
no circumstances should you try to locate the leak with a flame
or electrical appliance, or turn light switches off or on if there
is any suspicion of gas in the air. And once the gas is off, let
the gas company turn it back on.
Should a gas main break in your neighborhood, evacuate the
area immediately and notify both the fire department and the
gas company as soon as you can get to a telephone.
Playing with gas is playing with fire and should be left to the
fire fighters and gas companies. They know "hows," "whys,"
and "wherefores" of dealing with and correcting escaping gas
problems safely.
56 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts

In November 1965, all of New York City and much of the
Eastern Seaboard was plunged into darkness, with millions
stranded in elevators and buildings, with traffic snarled to a
standstill due to the lack of operating traffic lights. Although
this was a freak accident, there have been several major power
failures since. And while you're not likely to experience many
blackouts of such magnitude, you are quite likely to experience
power failures that frequently accompany strong storms,
floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Furthermore,
many blackouts are "manmade" -caused by severe drains on
the power supply. This often happens on hot summer after-
noons and usually during "peak load" periods when air condi-
tioners and other electrically powered apparatuses overload
the system.
Preventing Preventable Blackouts
"Manmade" blackouts are best prevented by energy conser-
vation procedures. Any equipment that produces light, heat, or
cooling uses the most energy. To prevent overloading the sys-
tem and, therefore, blackouts, the following steps are recom-
• Turn your air conditioner to its lowest setting and, if possi-
ble, turn it off and use a fan .
• Turn your refrigerator down to its warmest setting .
• Refrain from using electric lights, and shut off lights when

EI you leave a room. Replace bulbs in your light fixtures with

those having lower wattage .
• Refer to Chapter 4 for tips on handling power failures in cold
or hot weather.
Preparing for a Predictable Power Failure
Although there are occasions when there is no advance
warning of a power failure, often you may be forewarned of
imminent storms and other natural disasters that may cause a
power failure. In both cases, be prepared by having the neces-
sary equipment on hand and readily accessible. Among the
items highly recommended are:
• Emergency lighting: Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries in
a place where you can easily find it. Candles arc not recom-
mended, especially in homes where there are children,
because of the high risk of fire and also burns from candle
Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts 57

• Radio: Make sure you have a transister radio with fresh bat-

II teries available to learn the scope of the problem, as well as

the location of downed wires and other hazards .
• Cooking equipment: A camp stove or barbeque can offer an
alternative method of food preparation during the blackout.

I!I However, remember not to use charcoal inside the house due
to the hazards of toxic fumes .
• Shelf foods: It is better to have a supply of shelf foods such
as crackers or peanut butter in stock than to have to use an
alternative method of cooking .
• Generators: Some individuals may need standby equipment
to provide electricity to power medical equipment, aquari-
ums, and other devices that cannot be turned off. Moderately
priced generators are now available for private homes, and
you might want to inquire about the use of emergency gener-
ators in your high-rise apartment building .
• Surge protectors: These are recommended to protect particu-
larly expensive electronic equipment, such as VCRs, televi-
sions, computers, and the like.

What to Do in a Blackout
Although blackouts do not pose any real, direct threat to
safety, it is easy to become disoriented if everything suddenly
goes dark. Therefore, your first course of action is to take stock
of where you are-don't move until your eyes become
adjusted to the dark in order to prevent a dangerous fall.
If the blackout obviously is affecting your whole general
area and appears that it's going to last a long time:
• Refrain from opening refrigerators or freezers: If the door
remains shut, food should last approximately two days. In
hot weather, you should also cover your refrigerator or
freezer with a blanket to provide additional insulation .
• Refrain from using the phone: Although the phone will still
work, phone use should be restricted to urgent calls .
• Turn off or unplug electrical apparatuses: Often when the
electricity comes back on, there is a power surge. If you do
not have surge protectors, this can damage or destroy some
electrical appliances or televisions. Wait for a half hour after
power has been restored before turning electrical and elec-
tronic equipment back on in order to give the system a
chance to stabilize.
58 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts

• If any cooking is done inside the home, do not use a barbe-

cue or charcoal. A campstove may be safely used if the room
is adequately ventilated and if the campstove is placed in a
safe area where there won't be a fire risk .
• If there is a true emergency requiring electricity, such as
running respirators or other life-support equipment, call the
fire department and ask for an emergency generator.
• If there is a blackout while you are away from home, resist
the temptation to head home immediately, since traffic lights
and gas pumps will not operate without electricity .
• If stuck in an elevator, stay calm and periodically press the
alarm button. It may be ringing somewhere even if you can't
hear it. Unless you can hear rescuers, yelling is usually

• Since downed electrical lines sometimes occur in a blackout
situation, you should stay well away from them, and do NOT
touch any object in contact with them. ANY downed line
should be treated as if it were live. Utmost caution should be
used in attempting to rescue anyone in contact with or near
a downed or broken line. This is best attempted by the
experts-fire fighters or electric company personnel.
• If attempting the rescue yourself, DO NOT touch the victim,
since the electricity will be passed directly to you. Before
trying to move the victim, stand on a dry object (a board or a
rubber floor mat from your auto). Push the wire away with a
dry board or stick to free the victim. DO NOT touch the wire
with any object that is wet or is made of a metallic substance.

Chapter 3
Floods, Thunderstorms, and
How to Prepare for Possible Floods
Keep Alert
Reaching Higher Ground
After the Flood

Thunderstorms and Lightning

"Killer" Lightning
Tall Objects
Heavy Rains
Hail-the Underrated Hazard
Aftermath of the Thunderstorm

Will you be among the hundreds of thousands of Americans
who are driven from their homes by floodwaters each year?
Disasters can strike anytime, anyplace, anyone. Part of the
impact is frequently a great sense of helplessness, but it
doesn't have to be that way. Although we can't prevent natural
disasters, knowing what to do before they occur can make that
vast difference for your family in survival-and successful
Take floods, for example. No area is immune. A peaceful
stream or river that we take for granted changes dramatically
when extended rainfall or melting snows cause slow-rising
waters to spill over its banks, or it hillside runoff suddenly
cascades into a turbulent flash flood and heads for your home
or vacation site. What would you do?
How to Prepare for Possible Floods
Begin cy knowing the water level that is considered flood
stage in your area and the elevation of your property in relation
to waterways by checking with your department of public
works. By doing this when you first move in, you can have a
type of benchmark if the water-weather forecasts sound
60 Floods, Thunderstorms, and Lightning

Think in advance about how you and your family would deal
with an emergency, how much extra assistance would be
required for anyone who might be elderly or handicapped if
you had to evacuate ... and where you might go to be safe.
Think what route you could take to get there (and a safe alter-
nate, in case there might be flooding in that direction). Make
sure every member of the family is aware of this in case you
become separated.
While family safety is the prime consideration, there also
are steps you can take beforehand to improve emergency living
conditions and lessen property damage. It's good to keep on
hand materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting,
lumber, and shovels. Be sure you know how to use these mate-
rials properly. For example, in flood conditions, sandbags
should not be stacked against walls but rather somewhat away
from them to avoid damaging the very property you are trying
to protect. Local building contractors or the Office of Emer-
gency Services can also give advice.
If you can, install check valves in building sewer traps to
prevent floodwaters from backing up in sewer drains. Without
check valves, have large corks or stoppers on hand to plug
showers, tubs, or basins.
Since electric power may be interrupted, keep a stock of
food that requires little cooking and no refrigeration. Ifthe
flood stage is such that you are forced to leave your home, it is
a good idea, time allowing, to disconnect all electrical appli-
ances while they are still dry before you leave, make sure all
gas appliances are turned off, and shut off valves at storage
tanks. Two other things to consider: Keep automobiles fueled
in preparation for evacuation. and have self-contained power
supplies available. All these lights, flashlights, emergency
cooking equipment, and a portable radio should be user-ready
at all times, with their batteries in good working order.
Consider what might happen if a flood would force you to
leave your property. Before it actually reaches the threatening
stage, the family could move essential items to upper floors or
safe ground, see that fuel and storage tanks are filled to keep
them from floating away, and grease immovable machinery.
Pack a bag with the kind of essentials that may be difficult for
you or others to remember to gather up in an emergency: medi-
cations, eyeglasses, any special diet foods, proper clothing,
and important papers you might need.
Floods, Thunderstorms, and Lightning 61

Human lives and safety are the first priority, but if there
should be time before you are forced to evacuate, don't forget
to shut off the water main to isolate contaminated water from
your water heater. By doing this, you could protect something
that could provide a source of emergency drinking water when
you are able to return. Bring inside, or securely tie down any
outdoor possessions that could be hurled about or swept away
by the swirling floodwaters. If you have any penned livestock,
leave those gates open so they, too, can move to safer places.

Keep Alert
Stay aware of heavy rains and how road conditions are
affected. Monitor what you currently face or something that
sounds as though it seems to be developing rapidly. Be sure
you are tuned in to hear any advance warnings. The National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) makes this
information available on weather radio (162.400/162.550
mhz) and to area radio and TV stations. Radios are available
that carry only this information.
The forecasts of impending floods will indicate which
bodies of water are affected, when and where the flooding is

II likely to begin, and whether this flooding may be mild, moder-

ate, or severe. Also the National Weather Service and public
safety agencies will have reports on flooding in process. If you
aren't where broadcast information is available, watch out for
indicators of flash flooding, such as a rapid rise in the river
level or an increase in the speed of stream flow.
Campers especially may not hear these broadcast warnings
and should pay particular attention to potential danger. One
thing to avoid is camping on low ground, because flash floods
could hit while campers are sleeping. Even if you're not at the
bottom of the hill, it is still possible to be a target. Use of maps
not only will show campers where they are, but also can point
the way to higher ground when the move for safety is neces-
Sometimes people become confused about the terms "flood
watch" and "flood warning." In general, a FLOOD WATCH
(for weather-related conditions) means conditions are such that
emergencies may occur. A FLOOD WARNING means that the
event either is actually occurring or has a very strong probabil-
ity of occurring. Therefore, a flood watch indicates the possi-
bility of flooding occurring in specific areas. In this case you
62 Floods, Thunderstorms,and Lightning
should be alert for the flooding conditions that may develop.
Don't leave your home unless the flooding is heading your way
or the authorities order you to leave.
However, if you hear the words FLOOD WARNING, it
means flooding is occurring or is imminent in the general area
where you are. Be prepared to respond quickly.

Reaching Higher Ground

Before you leave, if time allows, make sure that a friend or
relative knows where you are planning to go (for example, to
the home of a friend, relative, or a Red Cross shelter), by
which route, and when you estimate you will be able to arrive.
Once you and your family are on the road, watch for flood-
ing at highway dips, bridges, and low areas, and be aware of
signs such as thunder or lightning, which could signify a dis-
tant storm bringing even more heavy rainfall to the vicinity.
Be careful to stay out of any areas you know are subject to
sudden flooding, especially at night, when it isn't easy to see
potential danger signs. Do not drive over flooded roads. You
can't tell whether part of the road or a bridge may be washed
out, how deep the water is, or how quickly the water level will
rise. Cars can float dangerously under these conditions before
they are swept downstream.
If your car stalls, abandon the car immediately and get all
members of your family out at the same time, before the water
can get any deeper. Don't let the children dawdle by the flood-
waters. Move everyone quickly to higher ground. There have
been too many cases where rapidly rising waters have swept
vehicle and occupants away.

After the Flood

Flood dangers don't end when the waters begin to recede.
That's why, if you had to evacuate, you should not return home
until the authorities say it is safe. Even then, you must be
aware of hazards you may face. The main ones are gas leaks,
electrical hazards, structural damage, and unsafe drinking
water. Therefore, it is sound procedure to have the place
checked by a reputable building contractor, or other specialist
such as a plumber or electrician, before you reenter your
BE CAREFUL. Have an authority check for structural dam-
age and danger of collapse before you enter your place. If it is
okay and you are able to go inside to examine your home, use a
Floods, Thunderstorms, and Lightning 63
flashlight, not a lantern or torch. Watch out for falling debris
and dangerous damage that may have been done to floors and
walls. Cheekfor gas leaks. Make sure there aren't any. Some-
times your own nose can tell you if there is the smell of gas
from a leak. If so, lose no time in getting to a usable telephone

to ask the gas company for help.
CUTION. Make sure you're wearing rubber-soled shoes and
rubber gloves and that the power company knows about any
broken utility lines. Don't turn on any lights or use any flooded
electrical appliances until they have been reconditioned. When
you're checking electrical circuits, do so only if the electricity
is turned off. Also, when the power has been offfor a period of
time, any food that was left in the refrigerator or freezer is
likely to be spoiled. Don't take chances by trying to use it.
Never walk in after a flood and think it's okay to turn on a
faucet and drink the water unless the health department has
announced that it is safe to do so. To avoid contaminated
drinking water, you can boil water for ten minutes in a clean
container as an emergency measure.
DRYING OUT. Even though you're anxious to remove
water from your home, do not rush it. If the basement is com-
pletely flooded, pump about a third of the water out each day,
since too drastic a change in pressure could cause the walls to
cave in. Shovel out mud while it is still moist to give walls and
floors a chance to dry.
RECOUPING YOUR LOSSES. If your community is par-
ticipating in the National Flood Insurance Program and you
have this insurance, call your agent or broker to arrange the
assignment of an adjuster to inspect your property. Also take
pictures of the flood damage, and save all receipts for tempo-
rary repairs.

Thunderstorms and Lightning

A severe thunderstorm has a number of troublemakers:
heavy rains, which can cause flash flooding; strong winds; and
lightning. And anyone of these aspects has the potential for a
dangerous situation.
Although thunderstorms occasionally happen in the winter,
prime time is a hot, sultry day when dark, heavy clouds begin
to form and you notice that the temperature has dropped sud-
denly with an increase in gusty winds. Your best protection is
64 Floods, Thunderstorms,and Lightning
to get inside, taking shelter in a sturdy building. Turn on your
battery-operated radio in case there is news of a tornado watch,
but generally the major danger will come from lightning, an
electrical discharge that results from the buildup of static elec-
tricity between clouds and the ground. While present in all
thunderstorms, it is more noticeable when the storm is severe.

"Killer" Lightning
Lightning kills or injures more people than any other natural
hazard in this country. While most of the victims survive,
lightning still kills more people than floods, hurricanes, or
tornadoes. Lightning also can knock down trees and trigger
fires. A way to estimate the distance between you and a light-
ning strike is to count the seconds that elapse between the flash
and the thunderclap. If the count is less than five seconds,
don't lose time-take shelter and stay inside while there is
lightning activity. Don't go back outside unless it is absolutely
There are other precautions to take. Do not handle any kind
of electrical equipment or telephones during an electrical
storm, because lightning could follow the wire. Stay away
from TV sets, because they are dangerous at this time. Close
all windows and doors, then stay away from them, too. Also
things such as a water faucet, a sink, or a tub with metal pipes
could conduct electricity and should be avoided.

Don't Attract Lightning by Being the

Tallest Object Around
It's dangerous to be the tallest object in an open area. Get as
far as you can from hilltops and trees, particularly any tree that
stands alone. If you are caught outdoors, try to seek shelter in a
building (but NOT a small, isolated shed or any other small
structure that is in an open area), cave, or depression in the
ground, and keep away from fences, telephone lines, or power
lines. If you feel an electrical charge such as having your hair
stand on end or feel that your skin tingles, it means that light-
ning may be about to strike you, so drop to the ground immedi-
ately. Just make sure not to lie flat, since the wet ground can
carry electricity-it's better to kneel with your feet close
together and your head lowered.
If you are using metal equipment such as tractors, golf carts,
motorcycles, lawnmowers, shovels, bicycles, or even hanging
clothes on a metal line, get away from things that can be elec-
Floods,Thunderstorms,and Lightning 65
trical conductors. If you are on a farm, try to get the livestock
to shelter because they won't know how to take the precautions
a human would.
Sometimes you may not have a choice about seeking shelter.
If that happens, make sure you go to a low place. Even in the
forest, look for a low area, and make your refuge under a thick
growth of small, not tall trees. When outdoors in a storm, be
alert to flash floods (see the section on floods) as well as light-
ning dangers. And don't ever think that just because lightning
has struck a place once, it's safe. That's an old wives' tale
about lightning never striking twice. It can, and has been
known to, strike the same place-or the same person-several
Other than being in a building, about the best place to be in a
severe thunderstorm is in a car. If inside, stay there until the
• -• storm passes, because the car will give excellent protection
from lightning once you have pulled away from any trees that
might fall on the vehicle. Going from best to worst, about the
worst place you could be in a storm with a lot of lightning is on
water. On flat, open water a small boat, or even a swimmer, is
the highest object lightning can find there and is likely to be a
target. At the first sign of a thunderstorm, lose no time in head-
ing for shore.
If the worst should happen and someone you are with should
be struck by lightning, the person will receive a strong electri-
cal shock and possible burns, but you will not be in danger if
you touch the victim and try to help. The lightning strike may
cause the victim's heart and breathing to stop, so prompt use of
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be used to revive the
person. Treat any injuries or burns you can, but make sure the
victim gets medical attention.

Heavy Rains
Frequently one of the results of a severe thunderstorm is a
flash flood. Wherever you are, try to know beforehand about
high ground and how to get there quickly in case you should
see or hear rapidly rising water.

Hail-the Underrated Hazard

Although it rarely takes lives, hail can be terribly destructive
to the crops we depend on for food. Hail precipitation is in the
form of balls or clumps of ice. Hail can be as small as a pea or
the size of a golf ball. Some are even larger-at 23/4 inches,
66 Fire, Gas Leaks, and Blackouts

they are as big as baseballs. The severe storms with intense

updrafts are the most likely to produce the large hail.
In case of hailstorms, take shelter. Hail is potentially dan-
gerous for pets and livestock, so be sure to take care of them as

In the Aftermath of the Thunderstorm

Once the storm is over and you are home, check for any
possible damage. While you are doing so, be careful to avoid
any downed electric power lines. Also, if the electricity is off,
use your battery-operated radio to listen for any warnings of
flash floods or tornadoes if they are threats in your area.

Chapter 4
Dangers from Winter and Heat

Winter Dangers
Wind-Chill Impact
Protecting Yourself and Your Family
Safe Return
Protecting the Elderly
More Cold-Weather Tips
Cold- Weather Survival

Dangers from Heat

Heat-Related Illnesses
Caring for the Elderly
Ways to Beat a Heat Wave
Making Air Conditioning More Effective
What to do With or Without an Air Conditioner
Dust Storms

Winter Dangers
Bitter cold and winter storms can cause extremely serious
hazards for the housebound as well as for those who must be
outside. Being familiar with the meaning of the wording of
weather news from the National Weather Service will let you
be aware of advance notice to get in supplies or make alter-
native arrangements.
Winter storm walch means that severe winter weather condi-
tions may affect your area. This can be freezing rain, sleet. or
heavy snow happening in combination or separately.
The difference betweenji-eezing rain and sleet is that freez-
ing rain freezes on impact, while sleet is composed of ice pel-
lets that bounce when they hit the ground; but both can make
driving hazardous. Freezing rain is called an ice storm when a
substantial glaze layer accumulates, and in some parts of the
country it is known as "silver thaws" or black ice. When the
ice coating is heavy on exposed surfaces, falling trees or faIl-
ing wires can be additional hazards.
68 Dangers/rom Winter and Heat

Snow squalls are brief, intense snowfalls with gusty surface

winds, while the words heavy snow indicate that four or more
inches are likely to fall during a twelve-hour period, or six or
more inches during a twenty-four-hour period.
The blizzard is the most dangerous of all the winter storms,
combining cold air, heavy snow, and the kind of strong winds
that blow the snow about and may reduce visibility to only a
few yards. Although a blizzard warning may be issued when
winds of at least thirty-five miles per hour and considerable
falling and/or blowing snows are expected for several hours,
this warning usually is associated with winds of fifty to sixty
miles per hour as well as temperatures of twenty-five to thirty
degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to the blizzard warning there
may be a separate one for high winds. These are sustained
winds of over forty miles per hour, or gusts of at least fifty
miles per hour or more, expected to last for at least an hour.
Severe blizzard warnings also indicate that temperatures of ten
degrees Fahrenheit or lower and very heavy snowfalls are
Ground blizzards are a combination of blowing and drifting
snow after a snowfall.
An additional danger can be spotted with cold wave warn-
ings about an expected rapid temperature drop of twenty
degrees Fahrenheit or more during a twenty-four-hour period.

Wind-Chill Impact
The wind-chill factor combination of cold and wind can put
a relatively balmy winter day in the throes of a cold wave. For
example, a thirty-degree Fahrenheit day would feel like eleven
degrees Fahrenheit if the winds were fifteen miles per hour,
but it would feel like two degrees Fahrenheit below zero if
thirty-mile-per-hoUf winds were blowing. Imagine what it's
like when the weather really hits zero! Then those same wind
speeds would make it the equivalent of minus thirty-three
degrees Fahrenheit and minus forty-nine degrees Fahrenheit,
respecti vely.
If you have to be working outdoors in cold weather when the
winds are strong, take extra precautions, because the condi-
tions make it easy to become exhausted more quickly and
become more susceptible to frostbite-or even death. Stock-
men should remember that livestock are affected by this, too.
Dangers from Winter and Heat 69

Be Sure You Know How to Protect Yourself and

Your Family
If you haven't the necessary items on hand (battery-powered
equipment, heating fuel, food and other supplies, a winter-
ready car) by the time you have heard the storm warnings, get
them immediately.
Since winter transportation becomes more difficult, keep
your car in top operating condition and the gasoline tank as
nearly full as possible. Also carry a "winter storm car kit"
with you, which would contain: sleeping bags or two or more
blankets (newspapers can substitute, as they can provide layers
of insulation); winter clothing, which includes wool caps,
mittens, and overshoes; matches and candles; a large box of
facial tissues; a first-aid kit; flashlight with extra batteries; a
small sack of sand; a set of tire chains; a shovel; a waterproof
container filled with food supplies that are high-calorie and
nonperishable, such as canned nuts, dried fruits, and candy;
tools-pliers, a screwdriver, and an adjustable wrench; a
windshield scraper; a transistor radio with extra batteries; and a
set of battery booster cables.
Even with your car preparations, take public transportation
if you can, driving only ifit is necessary and with all possible
caution. Try to travel by daylight, using major highways and
roads, keeping the radio turned on for weather information,
and in convoy with another vehicle, if possible. Also make
sure, as with floods and any other disaster condition, that your
route and an alternate have been planned ahead ... and that
someone else knows these plans.
If the conditions on the road become impossible, seek refuge
immediately, but don't panic if there's no house close at hand
and your car breaks down. In that case make sure your car
shows a trouble signal, then get inside the car and stay there
until help arrives. Avoid overexertion and exposure, but keep a
downwind window slightly open for fresh air. Be careful it
doesn't become sealed with snow or freezing rain. Beware of
carbon monoxide. Run the heater sparingly (only when the
downwind window is open), and keep the exhaust pipe clear.
As much as you can in the car, try to exercise from time to
time. If someone is with you, take turns keeping watch. Also
be sure to turn on the dome light at night.
70 Dangers from Winter and Heat
A Safe Return
Once you're safely in your dwelling, you and your family
have to be prepared for isolation at home. Even in urban
places, you may not be able to get out for a day or so, and in
rural areas one should plan on how it would be possible to
survive if strandedfor a week or two.
DRESS WARMLY. Wear multiple layers of protective
clothing, hoods, scarves, mittens, or gloves. If you have to go
outside, cover your mouth to protect the lungs from the
extremely cold air.
AVOID OVEREXERTION. Cold weather, without any
physical exertion, puts an extra strain on the heart. When
unaccustomed exercise is added, such as shoveling snow,
pushing a car, or even walking long distances or very rapidly,
there is the risk of a heart attack, a stroke, or even death. Don't
push your body too far-it's too dangerous a risk to take.
WHEN THE POWER FAILS. With weather conditions like
this, power failures are likely to occur. When this happens,
keeping warm is a major problem, but there are many other
things to consider as well to maintain a reasonable degree of
comfort and to protect property.
FREEZING PIPES. If it seems likely that the heat will be
off for at least several hours, try to protect exposed plumbing
by draining all pipes, including hot water heating pipes in any
rooms where the temperature falls below forty degrees Fahren-
heit. Drain the sink, tub, and shower traps, toilet tanks and
bowls, hot water heater, dish and clothes washers, water
pumps, and furnace boiler. Try to save as much water as possi-
ble when draining the system, since a power outage could
knock out your electrically powered water pump and restrict
water use. This water should be stored in closed or covered
containers, if possible in a place where it won't freeze. While
heating system water is unfit for drinking or other household
use, in case of emergency you could use the water from your
hot-water heater and toilet tank (not bowl) for these purposes,
since a power outage could knock out an electrically powered
water pump.
COOKING. Meal-in-a-can foods such as stews, soups,
canned meats, beans, or spaghetti require little heat for cook-
ing, and while not a first choice, many can be eaten without
any cooking. Also good to keep on hand: cereals, breads, dried
meats, and cheese, and the kind of freeze-dried meals used by
campers and backpackers. If you have a fireplace or a cooking
Dangersfrom Winter and Heat 71
camp stove, it is a good backup for emergency lise. Be sure to
use these only in a well-ventilated area.
SANITATION. If the water supply is cut off, a portable
L! camper's toilet might be useful. Otherwise, flush the toilet only
•• often enough to prevent clogging. The chain or lever attached
to the toilet handle can be disconnected to prevent children
from overflushing. Provide covered containers for the disposal
of toilet paper.
HEATING AND LIGHTING. Since it may not be possible

II for regular heating supplies to be delivered, use the fuel you

have sparingly. If need be, close off the rooms where heat is
not essential. Make sure you have a backup kind of emergency
heating equipment and fuel, such as a camp stove in case you
don't have a fireplace. Also when the electricity is off you'll
want to make sure that kerosene or gas lanterns are available
and that ample fuel is on hand.

An important backup is a dependable flashlight with spare
bulbs and batteries. Remember, it is crucial to have proper
ventilation and to know how to use emergency heating and
lighting equipment to prevent fires or dangerous fumes. Watch
out for burning charcoal in particular, as it can give off deadly
amounts of carbon monoxide.
Be sure every member of the family knows the precautions,
but also keep on hand tools and equipment that could be used
to fight a fire if such should happen, because it would be very
difficult to obtain fire department help in such weather con-
Even without your electric power, a battery-powered radio will
make it possible to hear weather forecasts, information, and
advice from local authorities. Be sure to keep extra batteries on
hand so your radio won't fade out and be useless.
Protecting the Elderly
Even without storm conditions, winter cold is particularly
hard on the elderly, who are more susceptible to hypothermia,
the state when the body temperature is lowered. A body tem-
perature below ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit is considered
dangerous. Some of the other symptoms to watch for are pale
skin and a bloated face, a trembling that is present on one side
of the body, or in the arm or leg; slurred speech; an irregular
and slowed heartbeat; and unusual drowsiness, perhaps lapsing
into a coma. To prevent hypothermia, see that you, if you are
elderly, or your elderly relative or neighbor takes certain pre-
cautions. Hot meals and hot liquids help, as does eating
72 Dangers/rom Winterand Heat
plenty of fruits and vegetables and adequate amounts of pro-
tein. Alcoholic beverages should be avoided because they
cause the body to lose heat at a faster rate.
Notice what your elderly relative or friend is wearing.
Warm, loose-fitting clothes are good indoors or out. However,
when the elderly brave the outside, they should wear hats (you
lose heat faster from your head than from any other part of
your body) that cover their ears and have a warm scarf around
the neck. Mittens will hold hand warmth better than gloves.
Tight-fitting shoes and overshoes are not good.
Body heat can be increased by a daily exercise routine, no
matter how simple. However, overexertion should be avoided
at all costs because it strains the heart.
Since a number of the elderly don't get outside all that often
in the winter, make sure their indoor room temperature is kept
at a comfortable level. Caulking doors and windows plus clos-
ing draperies and shades at night will help keep the heat in, as
will placing a rug at the bottom of doors to reduce drafts.
Encourage piling on plenty of blankets at bedtime, not to
mention wearing a nightcap and socks to bed.
SELF. The most important thing here is to remember to keep in
touch. Have your nearby family member, a friend, or a neigh-
bor check on you daily with a phone call or a visit. Make sure
the numbers you need-of these people and of other key
"help" in your life, such as your doctor and emergency ambu-
lance service-are posted prominently, where the list will be
close at hand if needed. If you are a relative or friend to some-
one elderly, see that someone checks up on them on a regular
basis to make sure of their well-being.

More Cold. Weather Tips

ICE SKATING SAFETY. Ice skating is great fun, but there
are certain precautions to take, and the first involves the condi-
tion of the lake or pond.
Don't skate if:
• The ice is clouded with air bubbles or other discolorations .
• There is moving water under the surface, or ice near springs
or streams .
• Partially submerged objects can be seen, such as tree stumps,
drainage pipes, or rocks .
• Thin ice is near the shore .
• Ice-fishing holes have become manmade hazards.
Dangers/rom Winter and Heat 73

• It's difficult to see the ice too well because of strong sunlight
hitting the ice and reflecting off sand or gravel.
ffyou shouldfall through the ice:
• Don't panic. Send someone for help, then give yourself a
moment to gain more stability. By kicking your feet up
behind you, you keep your legs from jackknifing, and you
can float.
• Try to swim from the breakthrough onto the ice. When you
get there, roll or crawl on your stomach until you have gotten
a safe distance from the hole .
• As soon as you're back on shore, get to a place where you
can wrap up in warm blankets and drink hot liquids. Also see
a doctor to make sure you prevent frostbite or hypothermia.
How you can help if you see someone else fall through the
• Extend something like a rope, tree limb, or broom to the
person. Then slide gently toward the one in the water,
extending the object and calling encouragement. However, if
you notice any signs or sounds of ice cracking where you
are, crawl back fast.
• Once you have the person on shore, being in a warm car will
enhance the effects of giving the victim hot drinks and wrap-
ping in warm blankets. See that the feet are elevated, and get
the person to a doctor immediately.

Cold. Weather Survival

To protect plumbing. sewage systems, and appliances to
prevent damage from freezing during winter power failures or
other heating emergencies:
Hot. Water Systems
Keep exposed heating pipes from freezing by circulating
water through the pipes or adding antifreeze to the system.
I. Circulating water. If electrical power is available, keep the
circulator pump going, as moving water does not freeze
readily. However, if room temperature drops below forty
degrees Fahrenheit you probably should begin to drain the
pipes, which isn't always so easy.
2. Draining pipes. Pipes may have to be disconnected to drain
low points in the hot-water heating system. Open the vents
on the radiators to release the air so the pipes can drain.
74 Dangers from Winter and Heat

3. Adding antifreeze. Consult a heating contractor before you

add antifreeze to your system because antifreeze is poison-
ous and mustn't be allowed to get into the drinking-water
system. Use only antifreeze containing ethylene glycol, and
make sure that the house water system and the boiler water
system are not connected. Be careful not to use any anti-
freeze that contains methanol, which vaporizes readily
when heated and could cause excessive pressure in the
system. It is important, too, that the antifreeze you select
does not contain any leak-stopping additives, because they
might foul the pumps, valves, air vents, and other parts.
Plumbing System
I. Shut off the water at the main valve, or turn off the well
pump if it is in the house.
2. Drain the pressure tank.
3. Open all the faucets until they are completely drained.
Since some valves will open only when there is water pres-
sure, it will be necessary in that case to remove the valve
from the faucet.
4. Drain the entire system by disconnecting pipe unions or
joints as close to the main valve as possible. You may use
compressed air to blow water from pipes.
5. Insulate undrainable pipes around their main valves. Use
newspaper; blankets, or housing insulation for this purpose.
6. Drain toilet flush tanks and spray hoses.
7. Disconnect the water softening unit so water can drain from
the hard- and soft-water pipes and from the controls. Lay
the softener tank on its side to drain as much water as possi-
ble. Also drain controls and tubing on brine (salt) tanks. A
brine tank itself will not be harmed by freezing.
Sewage System
I. Empty all drain traps by carefully removing drain plugs or
by disconnecting traps.
2. Blowout inaccessible traps with compressed air, or add
ethylene-glycol-base antifreeze in an amount equal to the
water in the trap (one pint to one quart is sufficient, depend-
ing on the size of the trap).
3. Check kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, bathtub drains, toi-
lets, washtubs. showers, floor drains, and sump pumps.
Dangers from Winter and Heat 75

1. Disconnect the electric power or shut off the fuel to all
water-using units.
2. Shut off the water supply and disconnect the hoses, if
3. Drain all water-using appliances.

4. Check the water heater, humidifier, ice-making unit of the
refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher. Drain the
pumps on the washing machine and the dishwasher. Do
NOT put antifreeze in these appliances. Close valves to the
furnace, water heater, and dryer.

Dangers from Heat

Although many people look forward to summer and being
outdoors, excess heat and overexposure to the sun have cruel
effects, causing heat-related illnesses.
Some serious signs of heatillnesses are dizziness, rapid
heartbeat, diarrhea, nausea, throbbing headache, dry skin (no
sweating), chest pain, great weakness, mental changes, breath-
ing problems, vomiting, and cramps.
If you, or someone you know, experiences these symptoms,
eallfor help. In hot weather as well as in cold, it is important
to stay in contact with others for mutual support and well-
being. If you, a relative, or a friend lives alone, be sure the
individual makes special efforts to maintain daily telephone
contact with the people who know the person.
Types of Heat-Related Illnesses
Usually the body's thermostat will cause sweating if a per-
son becomes heated from working, playing, or just being in a
hot area. However, if that temperature control system stops
working correctly, the body doesn't cool as it would ordinarily,
and overexposure to the heat and sun can result in a heat
stroke. High body temperature in connection with this is also
caused by overexertion or strenuous physical activity in hot
temperatures, and the kind and amount of clothing worn.
Symptoms to watch for are a body temperature that may be
106 degrees Fahrenheit or even higher, the skin being hot, red,
and dry, and a rapid, strong pulse. The victim may be uncon-
scious. If this occurs, immediately place the victim in a tub of
cold water (do not add ice), or sponge the skin repeatedly with
cool water or rubbing alcohol. If fans or air conditioners are
available, use them. Once the victim's temperature goes below
76 Dangers/rom Winter and Heat

102 degrees Fahrenheit, take care to prevent overchilling, and

see that the victim is NOT given stimulants. Be sure to seek
medical help as soon as possible.
A heat exhaustion victim's body temperature is different
from that of a heat stroke victim. The person suffering from
heat exhaustion will have a body temperature that is normal, or
nearly normal. Here there is excessive pooling of blood in the
capillaries of the skin as the body struggles to lose heat. This
pooling interferes with the circulation of the blood to vital
organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs. While the body is
trying to compensate for this reduced supply of blood not being
where it is needed in the critical areas, the smaller veins con-
strict. The skin becomes white or pale and cool and clammy.
The victim may faint but probably will regain consciousness if
the head is lowered so that the blood supply to the brain can be
Symptoms of heat exhaustion are weakness, nausea, and
dizziness. Cramping also is possible.
As soon as you are aware of the condition, give the victim
sips of salt water (one teaspoonful of salt per glass) but slowly,
half a glass every fifteen minutes, over a period of about an
hour. Loosen the victim's clothes and have the person lie down
with feet raised from eight to twelve inches. Apply wet, cool
cloths and fan the person, or move to an air-conditioned room.
If the victim should vomit, don't give any more fluids, but take
the person to the hospital, where intravenous salt solution can
be given.
After an attack like this, the heat exhaustion victim should
be advised not to return to work for several days and be partic-
ularly careful to be protected from exposure to abnormally
warm temperatures.
While heat cramps caused by inadequate intake of water and
salt and overexposure to the heat and sun are not as serious as
heat exhaustion and heat strokes, they, too, should be treated
The symptoms are cramping of the victim's leg and abdomi-
nal muscles. For this condition, as with heat exhaustion, sips
of salt water prove helpful. Give the victim about half a glass
(with one teaspoonful of salt per glass) every fifteen minutes,
over a period of about an hour. Also a good way to give first
aid is to exert pressure with your hands on the cramped mus-
cles or gently massage them to relieve the discomfort of the
Dangers from Winter and Heat 77
Caring for the Elderly
Since older persons are less likely to sweat or have widening
of blood vessels to transfer heat from the body core to the skin,
these body mechanisms function less effectively. This leads
them to suffer more when the thermometer hits ninety degrees
Fahrenheit or above and when the humidity also soars. This
temperature/humidity combination can cause heat in the body
to build, interfering with its proper function.
High-risk elderly are those who have chronic conditions that
affect the body's heat-regulating capacity. These conditions
include diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood
pressure, Parkinson's disease, and stroke. Other risk condi-
tions include overweight, burns or skin disease, conditions that
reduce the capacity to sweat, alcoholism, and diarrhea.
If not in air-conditioned surroundings, these people should
make it a point to drink at least a gallon of liquid any day the
temperature goes over ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit. And the
overweight or someone who exercises a great deal would need
to drink even more than that for protection. When it comes to
food, a well-balanced diet is wise as always, but keep the
emphasis on meals that seem light and cool, NOT hot and

How Anyone Can Help to Beat a Heat Wave

Sometimes a heat wave catches us unawares even if it is
summer, but we try to keep going at our usual pace. Take it
easy. Be gentle to yourself and allow your body to get accli-
mated to the environment for the first two or three hot days.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has
a number of tips they recommend. The first is to listen when
your body warns you that the heat is too high. When this hap-
pens, slow down. Reduce your level of activity immediately,
and get into a cooler environment if you can.
Lightweight and light-colored clothing makes good summer
sense, as does light eating. Foods such as protein increase your
metabolic heat production and water loss. Also, unless you are
on a salt-restricted diet, make sure you and your family include
salt in the diet. And drink plenty of water.
Watch out for too much sunshine. It's very easy to get a burn
even if you're not at the beach, and sunburn inhibits the body's
ability to cool itself. Even if you HAVE to be outside, make a
point of trying to get out of the heat for at least a few hours
each day.
78 Dangers from Winter and Heat

Making Air Conditioning More Effective

Because an air conditioner cools and dehumidifies air, set-
ting the fan speed on high will cool more effectively. However,
if the weather is humid, set the fan speed on low. While the
lower speed may not cool as effectively as the high, it does a
better job of dehumidifying, so it will add to the room's com-
fort index. Another thing to remember is that the place is NOT
going to cool down faster if you just turn the thermostat down.
Air conditioners will run longer to reach this lower temperature
setting, and cost more to run due to the wasted electricity.
Air conditioner filters should be vacuumed weekly during
periods of heavy usage, and replaced if they look worn.
For window air conditioners, close any floor heat registers
nearby because cool air falls, and this cool air will spill
through any of these openings. A snug fit between air condi-
tioner and window opening can be made even snugger by insu-
lating any spaces here. You also can increase the effectiveness
of the window air conditioner by using a circulating or box fan
to spread cool air.
If you want your storm windows to do double duty, don't
take them down when the first warm days of spring arrive.
They're great for adding better insulation all summer long. Just
make sure you check your air-conditioning ducts for proper

What to Do With or Without an Air Conditioner

Don't use any heat-producing appliance that will make
indoor temperatures even hotter during the sizzling part of the
day. This can include ovens, clothes dryers, dishwashers,
toasters, and electric lights. If you have to cook or are taking a
shower (and try to make it a cool one if there is no medical
problem), avoid extreme temperature changes; this may cause
hypothermia in some, particularly the elderly and the very
young. It's okay to switch on the exhaust fan, but make sure to
turn it off when you are through to keep it from pulling any
cool air out.
Plan cool meals that don't require cooking, but if you have
to cook indoors, do it in the early morning or late evening.
Cook outdoors if you can. As part of the summer diet, make
sure everyone in the family drinks plenty of nonalcoholic flu-
ids. This will help avoid the dehydration caused by excessive
Dangers/rom Winter and Heat 79
Slow down; avoid excessive activity. By staying in north-

B facing rooms when you can late in the day, you'll be as far
SLOW from the sun's direct rays as possible. As mentioned earlier,
clothes should be light in color, light in texture, and loose in
Some closing down helps the cooling-off process. If you
must do a heat-producing job, by closing off this area from the
rest of the house until you finish (if you can stand the extra heat
when no ventilation system exists in the space), it helps avoid
heat buildup in the other rooms. Whether you live in an apart-
ment or a house, placing temporary reflectors (such as alumi-
num foil-covered cardboard) snugly against the window can
reflect the heat back outside. This is an easy-to-make project
that the younger members of the family may want to tackle.
Another way to keep the inside cool air from oozing out is to
weatherstrip doors and windowsills.
If you are lucky enough to have big shade trees outside, that
will help insulate the windows from the sun and outside heat.
However, shades, draperies, awnings, or louvers are more
effective for those windows that get the morning or evening
sun. If you're able to use outdoor awnings or louvers, you'll
find they are the most effective ways to reduce heat (estimated
as a solar gain cut of 80 percent). People who have houses also
might want to consider an after-sundown water spraying of
brick or masonry walls. While this may just cool the structure
by a few degrees, it will lessen radiation of stored heat into the
living area.
Dust Storms
Extremely dry and hot weather may result in dust storms.
When the weather seems threatening, be sure to listen for
warnings about possible dust storms. This warning means bad
news for drivers: visibility of one-half mile or less due to the
blowing dust (or sand), and wind speeds of thirty miles per
hour or more.
Although such storms may last only a few minutes, they
strike with little warning. Suddenly an advancing wall of dust
and debris appears, and it is no small wall. It may be miles
long and several thousand feet high. The dust blinds and
chokes as it quickly reduces visibility. The accidents it can
cause may involve chain collisions and massive pileups.
By taking certain actions you, as a motorist, can save your
own and other lives. If it is too late to avoid entering the dust
storm area, take these actions:
80 Dangers from Winter and Heat

Pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible as soon

as you see dense dust approaching or blowing across the road-
way. Stop, turn off the lights, set the emergency brake, and
take your foot off of the brake pedal to make sure that the tail
lights are not illuminated.
The reason for making sure that all lights are off is that when
vehicles leave the road and keep the lights on, other vehicles
approaching from the rear sometimes use the advance car's
light as a guide. When this happens, the second car inadver-
tently goes off the road-and in some instances has actually
collided with the parked vehicle.
If you can't pull off the road, proceed at a speed that is suit-
able for visibility. In this case, turn on the lights and sound the
horn occasionally. The painted center line can help guide you.
Never stop on the traveled portion of the road-look for a safe
place to pull off.

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and
The Earthquake Game
During an Earthquake
Special Preparations for the Elderly
After the Earthquake
Measuring the Intensity of the Earthquake
Tsunamis: Linked to Major Quakes

Weather Advisories
Terms You Should Know
Preparing for the Hurricane
After the" All Clear"

What to Do
At Home
Mobile Homes
Special Precautions for Schools
In Stores or High-rises

- - Earthquakes can strike areas far beyond the San Francisco
area and the San Andreas Fault. While many associate Califor-
nia with earthquakes, the state with the largest number of
major earthquakes is actually Alaska. Since earthquakes gen-
erally occur along cracks in the earth's crust known as faults, a
number of our other western states have the potential for earth-
quakes, including Nevada, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Utah,
and Washington. Sometimes "freak" earthquakes may occur
East of the Rocky Mountains, Missouri is the area of great-
est hazard. It was the site of the devastating New Madrid earth-
quake, the largest historic earthquake to hit the continental
United States. However, others have struck many other places
82 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes

as well-as far away as the St. Lawrence River valley and

Charleston, South Carolina.
Since this violence strikes without warning, families should
know what to do before it may happen, particularly in the
earthquake-prone areas.
Specially hazardous are buildings with foundations resting
on landfill, old waterways, or other soft and unstable soil. Also
in the hazardous category are trailers or mobile homes,
because they tend to become uncomfortably mobile when a
quake is in progress.
Your "earthquake survival kit" should be kept at hand
where it is readily available. Include in it these objects: hand-
operated can opener, wrench, flashlight, battery-operated radio
with extra batteries, first-aid kit, nonperishable foods, and a
supply of water.
When a quake strikes, the major casualty problems are not
caused by the actual earth movement. Rather they come from
falling objects and debris such as flying glass from broken
windows, fires from broken gas lines, fallen power lines, or
from the landslides and huge ocean waves a quake may trigger.
Another common cause of injuries is inappropriate action
resulting from panic. There are a number of steps you can take
beforehand to help your family know what to do so this is not
as likely to occur.
BE PREPARED. Check your home for hazards, and hold
family earthquake drills. To some members of the family "the
earthquake game" might sound childish, but it is one of the
best ways to recognize safety hazards that can be reduced or
eliminated. It also helps individuals to improve their reaction
time, since the game takes only a few minutes to play.

The Earthquake Game

Step 1. The game starts when any member of the group calls
out" earthquake!" At that point everyone drops what he or she
is doing and participates.
Step 2. Discuss what would happen in the room if it were a
real earthquake. Do this in every room of the dwelling. For
example, in a kitchen, cupboard doors would fly open and
dishes and glassware would come crashing out. The refrigera-
tor door would open, and things such as eggs would smash and
the other refrigerator contents spill forth while the heavy
refrigerator can slide all the way across the room and turn
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 83

upside down. Other parts of the kitchen chaos might include

falling fixtures and ceiling panels, while another room would
be especially prone to shattering glass and the fall of heavy
hanging objects.
Step 3. Once you have identified what might happen, dis-
cuss how you could avoid injury in each room. Generally this
means coverage in the sense of getting under something or
getting something over you. In the kitchen or dining room, this
might mean a door frame. When you are under a table, hold on
to it, as it may "creep" away from you.
In other rooms, it could mean holding pillows over the head,
or crawling under a bed. THE IMPORTANT THING is to do
physically what you expect to do ifan earthquake actually
strikes. When there is no obvious furniture to crawl under or
material to pull over yourself, assume a "duck and cover"

DB position. Look for a corner, a door frame, or even an inside

wall where you might lean for protection.
The benefits of playing this game include doing such things
as thinking of how to secure cabinet doors and bolt down items
such as refrigerators or water heaters; and realizing the impor-
tance of fastening topheavy furniture to the walls and also
relocating beds away from large windows for greater protec-
tion. You also will save precious seconds in case of the real
thing, and will know what to do instinctively when the ground
or room begins to shake.
This is particularly important because most family members
today are in different places during the daytime. Even if sepa-
rated from one another, this experience will help every mem-
ber of the family to be better prepared for protection, because it
is important for everyone that protection be found within a
yard or two of where the person is when a quake starts. In a
severe earthquake, it just isn't possible to move far-say, all
the way across the room-because of the intensity of the
ground shaking.
Make sure that large and heavy objects are placed on lower

II shelves and that the shelves are securely fastened to the walls.
Any bottled goods or breakables should be stored in low or
closed cabinets, and overhead lighting fixtures should be made
fast. In new construction and alterations, earthquake-resistant
building standards should be adhered to. Any sites for con-
struction should be selected and engineered to reduce the dan-
gers of possible earthquake damage.
84 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes
Other things to do before the quake hits:
1. Teach responsible family members how to turn off utilities
at the main switches and valves.
2. Take first-aid training, and have a fire extinguisher and
first-aid kit available.
3. Keep immunizations and medications up to date, and
gather together supplies and medications that would allow
your family to survive for at least seventy-two hours. This
includes food, water, and clothing.
4. Don't forget to maintain a flashlight and battery-powered
radio in good shape in case power is cut off.
Also consider what might happen if you become separated.
The plan for family reunification should be one known well by
While these measures have related particularly to the home,
the same precautionary measures should be applied to the place
of work. Secure or bring to the attention of appropriate person-
nel the kinds of apparatus that could move or fall, dangerous
chemicals, and unreachable emergency shutoff switches.

During an Earthquake

ffinside, STAY THERE. Get under a sturdy table or desk,
(holding on to it so it doesn't "creep" away from you), or
brace yourself in a doorway or corner. If you can, move to an
inside hallway, and choose a location that would allow you
breathing space and air in case the building should collapse
around you. Stay away from windows, bookcases, china cabi-
nets, heavy mirrors, hanging plants, and other heavy objects.
Watch out as well for falling plaster, and if in the kitchen, turn
off the stove at the first sign of shaking. If you are in a crowded
store or other public place, move away from display shelves
containing objects that may fall, but do not rush for exits. In a
high-rise building, get under a desk and stay away from win-
dows. Stay on the same floor where you are; don't use eleva-
tors, as the power may go off. There also is the strong
possibility that the fire alarm or sprinkler systems may be
Outside. Move away from power lines, power poles, trees,
walls, and chimneys to an open area, but if you are on a side-
walk near a building, duck into the doorway to protect yourself
from falling debris. If you are in your car. pull over to the side
and stop. While the car's suspension system may make the car
shake violently, it still is a safe place to be. Do NOT attempt to
cross bridges or overpasses, since they may have been dam-
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 85
aged. Even after the quake is over, and you are proceeding,
avoid them. Be careful not to park under overhead wires,
bridges, or overpasses. Don't get out to remove any electrical
wires that may have fallen across the vehicle. STAY IN YOUR
CAR until the shaking has stopped.

Special Preparations for the Elderly

During and after an earthquake, you'll need to assess your
situation quickly and make every action count. Stay calm and
take deep breaths. Be sure to keep away from windows or
other glass. Brace yourself in a doorway or inside hallway, or
lower yourself to the floor and slide under a sturdy table. If you
aren't able to get to a safer area,just sit down wherever you
are. Don't try to remain standing.
If you are unable to move safely and quickly, stay where you
are, even if you are in bed. Try to protect your head and body
with whatever is available--pillows, lap robe, books, your
arms, or any other handy object. If you are in a wheelchair,
remember to Jock your wheel brakes wherever you are. Do
whatever you can to protect yourself until the shaking stops.
Also,if you have pets-particularly a guide or hearing dog-
keep them securely harnessed or confined, as they may be
frightened and try to run away. When the quake seems over
and the shaking has stopped, call for help if you need it, and
don't give up. Use your whistle or flashlight; pound on walls;
go to a safe window and wave a brightly colored, high-visibil-
ity object out this window. Do anything you can to attract

After the Earthquake

Stop for a moment and try to adjust to the shock, because
after a major quake, there are three priorities that must be set:
• Check for injuries .
• Check for fires and gas leaks.
• Turn off the utilities if necessary.
You want to make sure that everyone with you is okay. If
any are seriously injured, give first aid, but don't move them
unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
Make sure you have your shoes on (heavy ones if possible),
because you need the protection from debris and broken glass.
When you're doing your checking, rely on a flashlight. Do
NOT use matches, electrical switches, or electrical appliances
in case there is a gas leak. Shut off electrical power if you
86 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes

suspect damage to wiring, and make a check of water as well

as gas and electricity. If you smell gas, shut off the main valve
but do this only in an emergency. The main gas shutoff valve is
next to your meter on the inlet pipe. Use a wrench and make a
quarter turn in either direction so it runs crosswise on the pipe
and is now closed.
If the utilities are turned off, when it is safe to turn them
back on, be sure a qualified technician does it. Precautions like
this are necessary because fires that have started from broken
gas lines or electrical short-circuits are frequent causes of after-
quake destruction. Also be careful NEVER to touch a downed
power line, objects touched by lines, or electrical appliances
broken during the quake.
Clean up any medicines or other potentially harmful materi-
als such as bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids.
Make sure that sewage lines are intact before flushing the toi-
let. Also check the water supply. For emergency water, you
can use melted ice cubes, water from toilet tanks, but NOT
from those where a disinfectant chemical has been added, and
NOT from the toilet bowl.
Do NOT use your phones except for emergency calls. To
notify your out-of-town contact people, use mail to let them
know your situation until telephone service is more readily
available. By the same token, you should not drive your car
unless there is an emergency-keep the streets clear for vehi-
cles that are handling emergencies.
Whenever it'is necessary to enter a damaged building, pro-
ceed with great caution, because aftershocks can bring them
down. When you are cooking, you obviously should not use
the fireplace if it has become cracked or damaged during the
quake. "Make-do cooking" can be handled with camping
stoves, fondue pots, or barbeques as long as there is adequate
Keep your pets safe by confining them if the walls or fences
are down.
Turn on your battery-powered radio so you will be aware of
the latest reports and information. Do NOT go "sightseeing,"
but continue to be careful in case there are aftershocks. While
most are smaller than the main event, some can be large
enough to cause additional damage or bring down weakened
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 87

Measuring the Intensity of the Earthquake

One of the first pieces of media information you're likely to
hear about the earthquake is how it measured on the Richter
scale, and a difference of just a couple of points on that scale
can be tremendous. For example, a 6.0 quake has a seismic
wave a hundred times as large, and releases almost a thousand
times as much energy, as one measuring 4.0.
Magnitudes and results of earthquakes are as follows:
1.0 to 2.9: Probably won't be felt by most people. No dam-
3.0 to 3.9: Minor shaking, can be felt barely. No damage.
4.0 to 4.9: Tremors can be felt several miles away. Very
minor damage may occur.
5.0 to 5.9: Fairly strong shaking and no doubt that it's an
earthquake! Some damage will be reported.
6.0 to 6.9: A "moderate" earthquake, with widespread
damage. Possible injuries or deaths will result.
7.0 to 7.75: A "major" earthquake in which most manmade
structures will be damaged.
7.76 and above: A "great" earthquake in which the damage
and destruction are nearly total, and almost all manmade struc-
tures are severely damaged.
But even with this scale, remember that the intensity of the
quake may vary somewhat from one local area to the next.

Tsunamis: Linked to Major Quakes

Particularly in Pacific islands such as the Hawaiian group,
and on the U. S. Pacific Coast and in Alaska, there is a need to
be on the lookout for "tsunamis," which are destructive waves
generated by some ocean-area earthquakes far away. As it
crosses the ocean, the tsunami's length may be a hundred miles
from crest to crest. and its forward speed in deep water may
exceed six hundred miles per hour. Although the height at this
point may be only a few feet, its wave height increases as it
reaches the shoaling water of the coastlines in its destructive
path. It is here that the speed decreases and the real danger
appears-sometimes crests of more than a hundred feet, hit-
ting with devastating force. One beach may get a small tsu-
nami while another is hit by a giant.
Treat ANY tsunami warning with respect! If you hear that an
earthquake has occurred, stand by for a tsunami emergency,
and stay tuned to your radio or TV station.
88 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes
If an earthquake strikes in your own area, it is a natural
warning. Get out of low-lying coastal areas after a local
Sometimes one gets advance warning of a tsunami by the
coastal waters taking on a noticeable rise or fall. Heed the
warning! Be careful never to go down to the beach "just to
look at what's happening." If you can see this wave, you are
too close to escape it. Unless otherwise determined by authori-
ties, the potential danger areas are those less than fifty feet
above sea level and within one mile of the coast for tsunamis of
distant origin, or less than a hundred feet above sea level and
within one mile of the coast for tsunamis of local origin. Warn-
ings apply to you if you live in any Pacific coastal area.
Although you can't do very much to protect yourself except
to have an emergency kit prepared and to move inland to
higher ground before this tidal wave hits shore, once evacu-
ated, you should prepare to stay in an alternate temporary
shelter as long as the tsunami or storm warning is in effect, or
if your home has been damaged.
When you get back to your home, beware of gas buildup.
Use your flashlight, NOT matches or lanterns to check on
damage. Open all the windows and doors to help the building
dry out, and make sure NOT to use any food or water that has
come in contact with the floodwaters.

The hurricane season is between June I and November 30,
and hurricanes are most likely to strike along the Atlantic and
Gulf coasts. Since the pattern is difficult to pinpoint years in
advance, people sometimes forget too soon how violent a
hurricane can be and think of it as just an extra splash nudging
the edge of the property. They couldn't be more mistaken.
Hurricanes can be dangerous killers, provoking incredible
destruction to persons and property.
If official weather warnings are ignored, it can become a
tragic mistake.
If you live in a coastal area, be prepared at the start of each
hurricane seasQn. Check-and recheck, if necessary-your
supply of boards, tools, batteries, nonperishable foods, and the
other equipment such as flashlights, a first-aid kit, a fire extin-
guisher, and a battery-powered radio you would need if a hurri-
cane should strike your area. Trim back deadwood from trees,
and make sure that downspouts and rain gutters are secure.
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 89

Check the emergency services office to find out about com-

munity hurricane preparedness plans. See which areas are to be
evacuated during an emergency, which ones are considered
designated safe areas, and what the safe evacuation routes are
to the shelter, as well as making sure that relatives and friends
know your plans.

Weather Advisories
Today we are more fortunate than they were in the past
about the amount of advance weather alert received. Usually
the National Weather Service can provide twelve to twenty-
four hours' advance warning. The" hurricane watch" means
that a hurricane is a threat to coastal areas. Everyone in the
area covered should listen for further advisories to see what
direction the hurricane may be taking and be prepared to act in
case a hurricane warning is issued.
A WARNING means that hurricane winds of seventy-four
miles an hour or higher, or a combination of dangerously high
water and very rough seas, are expected in a specific coastal
area within the twenty-four hours. If you hear this, begin pre-
cautionary actions IMMEDIATELY. Don't wait until the last
minute to do the things that might leave you unprepared, or
even marooned. Plan what you can do in the time available,
and keep calm throughout the emergency.
If you are in a mobile home, you'll want to get to more sub-
stantial shelter, because they are very vulnerable to overturn-
ing in strong winds. (Steps you can take in advance to protect
your mobile home are discussed in the section on tornadoes.)
Whether you vacation or reside in a beach location, you also
want to make an early departure from low-lying beach areas
that may be swept by high tides or storm waves. Since some
areas may flood before others, you don't want to get caught in
your car by the hurricane on an open coastal road. Storm surge
(that great dome of water that sweeps across the coastline near
the area where the eye of the hurricane makes its landfall and
acts like a bulldozer, sweeping everything in its path) and
hurricane-caused flooding are erratic, so may occur with little
or no warning.
Because of this, don't wait. When your local government
advises evacuation, do so IMMEDIATELY. Listen to your car
radio for further instructions, such as where emergency shel-
ters will be located.
90 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadol<lj
If you live in a sturdy home that is inland, away from the
beaches and low-lying coastal areas, stay there and make
emergency preparations UNLESS evacuation from this area
has been advised, too. Just in case, however, keep your car
fueled because flooding or power failures could shut down
service stations.
Terms You Should Know
Tropical disturbance: A moving area of thunderstorms in
the tropics that maintains its identity for twenty-four or more
hours. (This is a common phenomenon in the tropics.)
Tropical depression: Rotary circulation at surface, highest
constant wind speed thirty-eight miles per hour (thirty-three
Tropical storm: Distinct rotary circulation; constant wind
speed ranges from thirty-nine to seventy-three miles per hour
(thirty-four to sixty-three knots).
Hurricane: Pronounced rotary circulation, constant wind
speed of seventy-four miles per hour (sixty-four knots) or
Small-craft cautiollwy statements: When a tropical cyclone
(hurricane) threatens a coastal area, small-craft operators are
advised to remain in port or not to venture into the open sea.
Preparing for the Hurricane
o Moor boats securely, or evacuate them to a safer area. When
the boat is moored, leave it, and don't return while the wind
and waves are up.
o Board over windows, or protect them with storm shutters or
tape. For small windows, the main danger comes from wind-
driven debris, but larger windows may be broken by the
pressure of the intense winds.
o Secure any outdoor objects that might be blown away or
uprooted. This includes garbage cans, garden tools, toys,
porch furniture, and signs, but there are many objects that
seem completely harmless until a hurricane-force wind
strikes them and they become as deadly as a wartime missile.
The way to avoid this problem is to anchor them securely or
store them inside BEFORE the storm makes it impossible
to do.
o Move valuables to upper floors.
o Bring iii pets. If you are forced to evacuate, be sure to leave
food and water for them because they can't be taken with you
to a shelter.
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 91
• Use the phone only for emergencies .
• Collect drinking water and store it in clean bathtubs, jugs,
bottles, and cooking utensils in case the area water supply
becomes contaminated or damaged by hurricane-caused
floods. Before the hurricane may cut off electrical power,
turn your refrigerator up to its coldest point, and don't open
unless absolutely necessary .
• If you have not been advised to evacuate, stay indoors on the
downwind side of the house or apartment, away from the
windows. Don't be fooled by the eye of the hurricane into
thinking it is over. The lull may last half an hour or only a
few moments; and on the other side of the eye the winds will
rise very rapidly to hit hurricane force, but come from the
opposite direction .
• The combination of the high winds and the rain from hurri-
canes moving inland can cause severe flooding, which would
make travel extremely dangerous at this time. You can moni-
tor the storm's position by listening to weather advisories on
the radio .
• Especially for the elderly (and this information refers to
floods as well as hurricanes), preparedness training and a
disaster plan are essential if you should become isolated at
home as a result of a severe storm. It's always useful to have
close at hand a lightweight drawstring bag that will contain
your medications, special emergency sanitary aids, a small
flashlight, and a whistle in case evacuation should be neces-
sary. If you have impaired mobility, keep this bag tied to
your wheelchair or walker. Have a "buddy system" with
some relative, neighbor, or friend so that your whereabouts
will be known and you are likely to get help faster. To attract
this help you should use your whistle, flashlight, or any other
method you can think of to direct them to your location.
In the meantime, keep calm. Listen to your radio and
television. If it were just a flood, you would move to the
highest point in the house. For a hurricane, stay in the center
of the house, preferably in a small room or on the side oppo-
site the direction from which the wind is blowing. Also stay
alert to the need to move to a higher floor in the event of
When the hurricane has passed, be cautious in using elec-
trical equipment in wet areas. If flooded, it should be dried
and checked before being returned to service. Don't drink
water from a faucet until you are told by the authorities that it
92 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes

is safe. Food is something else to be extracautious about

because frequently it can be contaminated by the flood waters.
Check before using and, if so, throw it out.

After the" All Clear"

As with an earthquake, resist the temptation to sightsee the
damage. Any driving should be done in an extracarcful manner
because of the possibility of dangling electric wires, low spots
that still may be flooded, and undermined roads. However, if
you do notice any broken or damaged water, sewer, or e\ectri-
cal line, be sure to report it right away. Preventing fires
requires universal effort because lowered water pressure could
make fire fighting difficult.
If you have been evacuated from your home and are now
returning, it is important here, as with any disaster, to check
for gas leaks, and to make sure, before using, that food and
water have not become spoiled.

Tornadoes Strike Suddenly

When a tornado is spotted, you have only a short time to
make Iife-or-death decisions. The "twister" is a violent wind-
storm characterized by an ominous black, twisting, funnel-
shaped cloud. Tornadoes occur in connection with thunder-
storms and frequently are accompanied, or foIlowed, by
lightning and sometimes heavy rain or hail. Tornadoes form at
the base of a cloudbank and form a dark, spinning column.
However, if the rain is heavy or if the tornado forms at night,
the only sign you may have is its loud, roaring noise, similar to
that of a train or a plane.
Tornadoes can strike anywhere, except the polar regions,
and in any season of the year. However, they are most likely to
occur during the midafternoon and early-evening periods, in
the months from April to October. They are most often found
in the middle western, southeastern, and northeastern parts of
the United States. They strike viciously, with their force
caused by extremely high winds and very low air pressure.
Although they normaIly touch ground for less than twenty
minutes, they may touch down several times in different areas,
and they spell DANGER!
Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes 93

What to Do
Know where the best shelter space is in your office, school,
or place of work as well as in your home. Hold tornado drills in
home, office, or school during the tornado season, because if
you wait until a tornado is spotted, you probably won't have
time to look for shelter unless you have chosen it in advance.
Watch the sky, listen to the radio for weather news, but don't
call the National Weather Service unless you spot a tornado.
Word of a tornado watch is an alert that there is the possibility
of tornado development, which may stay in effect for several
hours and cover an area as large as several states. During this
period there is no need to change your regular routine, except
to stay alert. A tornado warning, however, means that a tor-
nado has been sighted and indicates its location and probable
storm path during a specified time period-usually an hour or
less. When this warning is given, people in the storm's path
should take precautions immediately. Seek inside shelter.
At Home
It is preferable to go to the lowest level of the building, such as
a basement or storm cellar, and keep emergency equipment on
hand there (such as a lantern or powerful flashlight, and useful
tools-a crowbar, pick, shovel, hammer, pliers, and screw-
driver-in case you might need an escape route if debris
should block the exits.
However, if a basement isn't available, choose an inner
hallway or small inner room away from windows. Avoid any-
thing with wide, free-span rooms, such as an auditorium, cafe-
teria, or large hallway. Make sure you get under something that
is sturdy, such as a workbench or heavy table, and use your
arms to protect your head and neck.
Mobile Homes
Mobile homes are particularly dangerous when a tornado
hits down with its high winds. Frequently they overturn,
although tieing down may offer some wind-damage protection.
To tie it down, the mobile home should be properly blocked.
To do this, consult a contractor and make sure that enough tie-
down sets are used and properly placed, and the proper anchor
and approved tensioning devices are used. Also pay special
attention is paid to patio awnings, cabanas, and expando units.
Even so, when a hurricane or windstorm of a tornado's inten-
sity strikes, EVACUATE-don't stay in your mobile home.
94 Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Tornadoes
Before this happens, find out what community shelter your
mobile home park has, and what leader is responsible for con-
stant radio monitoring during tornado-threatening or tornado-
watch periods. The shelter you want to seek is a sturdy
structure. If nothing like this is nearby, lie flat in the nearest
ditch, ravine, or culvert, and use your hands to shield your
Schools Should Plan Special Precautions
When new schools are being planned, officials should keep
tornadoes in mind as construction standards are set. Each
school, new or old, should be inspected and tornado shelter
areas designated. To make sure teachers and students know
their designated shelter areas, tornado drills should be held,
particularly where the threat is greatest. At this time children
could be instructed that a command to assume protective pos-
tures means instant action. They should learn exactly what to
do when they hear the words "Everybody down, facing the
inside wall! Crouch on elbows and knees! Hands over back of
It also would be helpful to have a statewide or countywide
plan to see that any tornado news gets out universally and
rapidly-so children could be rounded up from the play-
ground, and school buses kept from going out during a tornado
If by any chance the bus is already out on the road, or the
school building isn't of reinforced construction, quickly get the
students to a nearby reinforced building or to a ravine or open
ditch, and have everyone lie flat while protecting their heads.
In Stores or High-rises
If you are downtown or in a shopping mall, get off the street
and go into a building. Stay away from windows and doors.
Shopping centers should have predesignated shelter areas, as
should nursing homes, hospitals, and factories. If they don't,
interior hallways on the lowest floor usually are best.
If you are in a high-rise building, go to interior small rooms
or hallways.
If you are outside. never try to outrun a tornado in a car.
Tornadoes can pick a car up and throw it through the air. Get
out of the car, and go inside a house or building. If none is
nearby or if you're caught outside with no time to get indoors,
lie in a ditch, or crouch near a strong building. Remember to
cover your head with your hands. Protect yourself from flying
debris in any way you can.

Emergency Information
Emergency Information Sheet
Fill Out Your Sheet
Special Medical Problems
Known Drug Allergies

Telephone Emergency Information Sheets

Sample Medical Release for a Minor

Important Family Records

Important Telephone Numbers

First-Aid Kit for Your Automobile

Help Is as Easy as 1-2-3

House Diagram


In times of crisis, it helps greatly if you can quickly and

efficiently supply emergency personnel with the information
they need to help you. Having such information immediately
available can speed up the diagnosis and treatment-some-
times making a critically important difference. If you keep on
hand an emergency information sheet and a medical identifica-
tion tag (if you need one), it will make it much easier for you
or your family to receive medical assistance.
96 Emergency Information

Emergency Information Sheet

You'll find an emergency information sheet represented here
with all the pertinent information. The sheet should provide
emergency personnel with all the essential data in casc you an':
unable to provide that information. It is wise to keep this sheet
in your wallet or purse at all times.
Moreover, it is especially important that children carry such
a sheet so their parents can be immediately notified in case of
an emergency, for often a physician is unable to go forward
with treatment until parental permission is granted.

Fill Out Your Sheet

Be sure you fill out your emergency information sheet and
carry it in your wallet. The following information should be
included in the medical sections:

Special Medical Problems

In this space be sure to list any important medical conditions
you have that emergency personnel will need to know about.
For instance, if you have a history of heart problems, that
information should be included. Or if you are troubled by back
problems, that, too, should be listed, so emergency personnel
will know to be extra careful in case they have to move you. If
you're lucky enough not to have any major problems, then
simply note "none."

Known Drug Allergies

In this section list any drugs that will cause you to have an
allergic reaction. Again, if you're among the fortunate ones
not to have any allergy problems with drugs, simply write

My name is _

Home phone _

Address _
In case of emergency contact:

Name Phone

Name Phone

(Fold here)

Special medical problems: _

Known drug allergies: _

Family doctor: _

Phone: _

My name is _

Home phone _

Address _
In case of emergency contact:

Name Phone

Name Phone

(Fold here)

Special medical problems: _

Known drug allergies: _

Family doctor: _

Phone: _

My name is _

Home phone _

Address _
In case of emergency contact:

Name Phone

Name Phone

(Fold here)

Special medical problems: _

Known drug allergies: _

Family doctor: _

Phone: _

My name is _

Home phone _

Address _
In case of emergency contact:

Name Phone

Name Phone

(Fold here)

Special medical problems: _

Known drug allergies: _

Family doctor: _

Phone: _

My name is _

Home phone _

Address _
In case of emergency contact:

Name Phone

Name Phone

(Fold here)

Special medical problems: _

Known drug allergies: _

Family doctor: _

Phone: _

My name is _

Home phone _

Address _
In case of emergency contact:

Name Phone

Name Phone

(Fold here)

Special medical problems: _

Known drug allergies: _

Family doctor: _

Phone: _
Telephone Emergency Information Sheets
Here are some special information sheets prepared for you to
place next to your telephone and use in times of emergency.
Take the time now to fill them out with the pertinent telephone
numbers and place them next to your phones-or post them in
a prominent place where those in your family know to look for
such important information.

Fire department ~ _
(Phone number)
Police _
(Phone number)
Emergency medical _
(Name) (Phone number)
Physician _
(Name) (Phone number)

Utility Action Card

Gas _

Electric _

Water _
Telephone Emergency Information Sheets
Here are some special information sheets prepared for you to
place next to your telephone and use in times of emergency.
Take the time now to fill them out with the pertinent telephone
numbers and place them next to your phones-or post them in
a prominent place where those in your family know to look for
such important information.

Fire department ~ _
(Phone number)
Police _
(Phone number)
Emergency medical _
(Name) (Phone number)
Physician _
(Name) (Phone number)

Utility Action Card

Gas _

Electric _

Water _
Telephone Emergency Information Sheets
Here are some special information sheets prepared for you to
place next to your telephone and use in times of emergency.
Take the time now to fill them out with the pertinent telephone
numbers and place them next to your phones-or post them in
a prominent place where those in your family know to look for
such important information.

Fire department _
(Phone number)
Police _
(Phone number)
Emergency medical _
(Name) (Phone number)
Physician _
(Name) (Phone number)

Utility Action Card

Gas _

Electric _

Water _
Sample Medical Release for a Minor
In times of emergenc'y, it is very often necessary for an
authorized adult to give medical personnel permission for the
treatment of a minor. Here is a sample form of such a medical
release for a minor; the form will allow treatment during an
Although other means exist for emergency hospitals to get
the permission they need to treat a minor, it is a very good idea
to keep one of these standard permission slips on file at your
child's school as well as at the child's doctor's office, and even
at the nearest hospital. This precaution ensures that there will
be no delay in case of an emergency. The information on the
medical release should be updated annually.

Sample form:

I, , parent (or

legal guardian) of _
a minor, hereby authorize any medical or surgical treatment
that may be necessary in an emergency, and in my absence, for
the well-being of the above-mentioned minor. I agree to hold
the physician or hospital treating the above-mentioned minor

-------- has the

following allergies: _

has the following medical conditions: _

Hospitalization insurance:

Name of company _

Policy number _

Group number _

Dated Signed _
Parent (or legal guardian)
Sample Medical Release for a Minor
In times of emergency, it is very often necessary for an
authorized adult to give medical personnel permission for the
treatment of a minor. Here is a sample form of such a medical
release for a minor; the form will allow treatment during an
Although other means exist for emergency hospitals to get
the permission they need to treat a minor, it is a very good idea
to keep one of these standard permission slips on file at your
child's school as well as at the child's doctor's office, and even
at the nearest hospital. This precaution ensures that there will
be no delay in case of an emergency. The information on the
medical release should be updated annually.

Sample form:

I, , parent (or

legal guardian) of _
a minor, hereby authorize any medical or surgical treatment
that may be necessary in an emergency, and in my absence, for
the well-being of the above-mentioned minor. I agree to hold
the physician or hospital treating the above-mentioned minor

--------- has the

following allergies: _

has the following medical conditions: _

Hospitalization insurance:

Name of company _

Policy number _

Group number _

Dated Signed . _
Parent (or legal guardian)
Sample Medical Release for a Minor
In times of emergency, it is very often necessary for an
authorized adult to give medical personnel permission for the
treatment of a minor. Here is a sample form of such a medical
release for a minor; the form will allow treatment during an
Although other means exist for emergency hospitals to get
the permission they need to treat a minor, it is a very good idea
to keep one of these standard permission slips on file at your
child's school as well as at the child's doctor's office, and even
at the nearest hospital. This precaution ensures that there will
be no delay in case of an emergency. The information on the
medical release should be updated annually.

Sample form:

I, , parent (or

legal guardian) of _
a minor, hereby authorize any medical or surgical treatment
that may be necessary in an emergency, and in my absence, for
the well-being of the above-mentioned minor. I agree to hold
the physician or hospital treating the above-mentioned minor

--------- has the

following allergies: _

has the following medical conditions: _

Hospitalization insurance:

Name of company _

Policy number _

Group number _

Dated Signed _
Parent (or legal guardian)
Sample Medical Release for a Minor
In times of emergency, it is very often necessary for an
authorized adult to give medical personnel permission for the
treatment of a minor. Here is a sample form of such a medical
release for a minor; the form will allow treatment during an
Although other means exist for emergency hospitals to get
the permission they need to treat a minor, it is a very good idea
to keep one of these standard permission slips on file at your
child's school as well as at the child's doctor's office, and even
at the nearest hospital. This precaution ensures that there will
be no delay in case of an emergency. The information on the
medical release should be updated annually.

Sample form:

I, , parent (or

legal guardian) of _
a minor, hereby authorize any medical or surgical treatment
that may be necessary in an emergency, and in my absence, for
the well-being of the above-mentioned minor. I agree to hold
the physician or hospital treating the above-mentioned minor

----------- has the

following allergies: _

has the following medical conditions: _

Hospitalization insurance:

Name of company _

Policy number _

Group number _

Dated Signed _
Parent (or legal guardian)
Important Family Records
Following is a list of key information to use for your impor-
tant family records. You may wish to add to this list. If so, just
add on any further material. Be sure to place these records in a
safe location (such as a metal box or a safety deposit box).
List work or school addresses and
phone numbers of all family members:
Father's work (name of business): _
Address: _
Phone: _

Mother's work (name of business): _

Address: _
Phone: _

Other family member or friend (name): _

Address: _
Phone: _

List below schools and the child/

children who attend the school(s):
Name of child/children:



Schooll: _

Address: _
Phone: _

School 2: _

Address: _
Phone: _

School 3: _

Address: _
Phone: _
Policy of school 1:

Hold child 0 Yes 0 No

Release child 0 Yes 0 No

Other _

Policy of school 2:

Hold child 0 Yes 0 No

Release child 0 Yes 0 No

Other _

Policy of school 3:

Hold child 0 Yes 0 No

Release child 0 Yes 0 No

Other _

Other important information:

Insurance policies
Name: _

Policy no.: _
Name _

Policy no.: _

Name and location of bank: _

Hospitalization identification no(s).: _

Policy no(s).: ~ _
Family doctor: _
Address: _
Phone: _

Local hospital: _
Address: _
Phone: _

Social Security no( s).:

Name: Soc. Sec. no.: _

Name: Soc. Sec. no.: _

Name: Soc. Sec. no.: _

Important Telephone Numbers

Fire department: 911 or: __ ~ _

Police department: 911 or: _

Emergency ambulance: 911 or: _

Physician: _

Electric company: _
Gas company: _

Water company: _

Father's work number: _

Mother's work number: _

Other family member: _

(Person outside of area for family members to call and report

location and condition.)
Children's work: _

Children's school: _

Poison control center: _

Pharmacy: _

Neighbors: _

Insurance agent: _

Emergency Broadcast System radio: _

Call sign: _
AM: _

FM: _

Frequency: _

Call sign: _
AM: _
FM: _

Frequency: _
Call sign: _

AM: _
FM: _

Frequency: _
Call sign: _
AM: _
FM: _

Frequency: _

Other: _
. First-Aid Kit for Your Automobile
Accidents do indeed happen, so as you "expect the
unexpected," you can prepare yourself to be ready for any

And as you know only too well, emergencies do occur! In

fact, you and your family bump your way through life's little
nicks and scrapes all the time. Your elderly neighbor takes a
tumble down a flight of stairs, your child scrapes a knee on the
playground, you cut your hand changing a tire.

It happens all the time. At home. Around town. On a trip.

And on our country's highways, millions of people are injured
each year in automobile accidents.

If your family counts on you to take care of them in emer-

gencies, it's a good idea to have the American Red Cross first-
aid kit on hand. Inside the kit ~re first-aid packets for various
emergencies, with the instructions for each packet printed right
on the front. So successful has the use of these first-aid kits
proved that they now are standard equipment for cars and
trucks in several European countries.

Help Is as Easy as 1-2-3

This kit is developed around the 1-2-3 approach to provide

fast-action help when an emergency hits .
• Packet I is for severe bleeding and burns .
• Packet 2 is for medium wounds, cuts, and scrapes .
• Packet 3 is for small cuts and scrapes.

You determine which packet fits the particular situation and

open the appropriate packet. The front of each section is
clearly labeled right on the kit, and instructions are repeated-
and all very clearly-on the packets. With this well-organized
system, the packets won't get lost. The instructions direct you
step by step, telling you precisely what to do for each emer-
gency so you can act quickly and efficiently.

Especially useful to keep in your car, van, or camper, there

is nothing that will dry out, spill, or get messy. Everything is in
sealed packets that stay fresh and clean right up to the minute
you use them.
The kit also includes items recommended elsewhere in this
book and sometimes not included in prepackaged first-aid kits.
These items include:
• scissors strong enough to cut through clothing, yet blunt-
tipped to be safe around children
• triangular bandage to wrap a head wound or make an arm
• a rescue blanket, lightweight and waterproof, to retain the
body's heat when treating for shock
Additionally, the kit itself makes a ten-by-twelve-inch pil-
low to put under an accident victim's head. An extra pocket
allows you to customize the kit with prescription medicines
and other health care items for you own family. All in all, this
makes it your family's personalized first-aid kit.
The American Red Cross first-aid kit has a guarantee of
satisfaction: "If you're not completely satisfied with the
American Red Cross first-aid kit, return it within ten days for
a complete refund."
To obtain the first-aid kit, call your local Red Cross chapter
or send $24.95 plus $3.20 shipping and handling to the
American Red Cross, P.O. BoxD, Dept. MH,Haworth, N]
07641 (N] residents add 6% sales tax) allow 4 weeks for
Sample Floor Plan

.:' g g


QA ~ .!

1---+-- ,tLu---l@J

1 Kitchen
L .• ~nl~~m
Living Room Garage

Bedroom 1

-• ~ J1

1. Exits" doors {). windows
2. Utility cut-off: @ (f) fjJ;
(Gas, Electric, Water)
3. First Aid Kit:
4. Emergency Supplies *
American Red Cross
5. Fire Extinguisher: •
6. Reunion Place: *
(This page can be cut or torn out of book.)

Our EMERGENCY Floor Plan American Red Cross

1. Exits'" doors (). windows
2. Utility cut-off: @ <ID tfiJJ
(Gas, Electric, Water)
3. First Aid Kit:
4. Emergency Supplies *
Date: _ 6. Reunion Place: *
5. Fire Extinguisher: •

(This page can be cut or torn out of book.)

Good to
the last drop@

Maxwell House@
"Coffee made our way"
Post Script to this Posting:

I picked this booklet up at a county fair, I believe, in the

80’s. It was a freebee, put together by the American Red
Cross and paid for by Maxwell House Coffee. It is printed
on very cheap newsprint, and of the postings I’ve done,
although it is the youngest in years, it is in the poorest
condition and it has just lived on my bookshelf since I got
it. I have left the cover, one “Note” page and the back
cover in the original colour with no electronic adjustments
to show where they came from. I have a couple of other
copies but they are all filled out and live with my Disaster
stuff. The American Red Cross seems to have gotten
away from publishing this, largely I think, because the
internet is a longer lasting (and cheaper) medium. People
also can select the forms and articles they need. Still
having it all together in one neat package gives one a place
to start in the all important task of getting things together
for when the proverbial fecal matter hits the rotating wind
device. Having it all together means you know where it is
too. In today’s world of computers and electronic devices
for storage, we frequently forget that in a disaster, maybe
the computer won’t work. Anything one stores
electronically should be stored somewhere else either as
had copy or electronic copy. I keep all my important
documents—some originals, some copies, some computer
generated and on usb drives in my Safe Deposit Box.
The Materials following this are ones I added in because I
felt they are Important. Use what you need, go to the
American Red Cross Web site, Get prepared, get involved.
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency

Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster, or the

loss of power from high winds, snow, or ice could
jeopardize the safety of your food? Knowing how to
determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe
will help minimize the potential loss of food and
reduce the risk of foodborne illness. This fact sheet
will help you make the right decisions for keeping your
family safe during an emergency.

ABCD’s of Keeping Food Safe in an Emergency

Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated

at or below 40 °F and frozen food at or below 0 °F.
This may be difficult when the power is out.

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much

as possible to maintain the cold temperature. The
refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4
hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the
temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it
is half full) if the door remains closed. Obtain dry or
block ice to keep your refrigerator as cold as possible if
the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of
time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic
foot full freezer for 2 days. Plan ahead and know where
dry ice and block ice can be purchased.

Be prepared for an emergency...

... by having items on hand that don’t require

refrigeration and can be eaten cold or heated on the
outdoor grill. Shelf-stable food, boxed or canned milk,
water, and canned goods should be part of a planned
emergency food supply. Make sure you have ready-to-
use baby formula for infants and pet food. Remember
to use these items and replace them from time to time.
Be sure to keep a hand-held can opener for an

Consider what you can do ahead of time to store your

food safely in an emergency. If you live in a location
that could be affected by a flood, plan your food
storage on shelves that will be safely out of the way of
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

contaminated water. Coolers are a great help for

keeping food cold if the power will be out for more
than 4 hours—have a couple on hand along with frozen
gel packs. When your freezer is not full, keep items
close together—this helps the food stay cold longer.

Digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometers and

appliance thermometers will help you know if the food
is at safe temperatures. Keep appliance thermometers
in the refrigerator and freezer at all times. When the
power is out, an appliance thermometer will always
indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer
no matter how long the power has been out. The
refrigerator temperature should be 40 °F or below; the
freezer, 0 °F or lower. If you’re not sure a particular
food is cold enough, take its temperature with a food
Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Flood waters covered our food stored on shelves

and in cabinets. What can I keep and what
should I throw out?
A. Do not eat any food that may have come into
contact with flood water.

• Discard any food that is not in a waterproof

container if there is any chance that it has
come into contact with flood water. Food
containers that are not waterproof include
those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops,
and crimped caps. Also, discard cardboard
juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home
canned foods if they have come in contact
with flood water, because they cannot be
effectively cleaned and sanitized.
• Inspect canned foods and discard any food
in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by
swelling, leakage, punctures, holes,
fractures, extensive deep rusting, or
crushing/denting severe enough to prevent
normal stacking or opening with a manual,
wheel-type can opener.

USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Steps to Salvage All-Metal Cans and Retort

Undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-
metal cans and retort pouches (for example,
flexible, shelf-stable juice or seafood pouches) can
be saved if you do the following:

• Remove the labels, if they are the

removable kind, since they can harbor dirt
and bacteria.
• Thoroughly wash the cans or retort
pouches with soap and water, using hot
water if it is available.
• Brush or wipe away any dirt or silt.
• Rinse the cans or retort pouches with water
that is safe for drinking, if available, since
dirt or residual soap will reduce the
effectiveness of chlorine sanitation.
• Then, sanitize them by immersion in one of
the two following ways:
o Place in water and allow the water
to come to a boil and continue
boiling for 2 minutes, or
o Place in a freshly made solution
consisting of 1 tablespoon of
unscented, liquid chlorine bleach
per gallon of drinking water (or the
cleanest, clearest water available)
for 15 minutes.
• Air-dry cans or retort pouches for a
minimum of 1 hour before opening or
• If the labels were removable, then re-label
your cans or retort pouches, including the
expiration date (if available), with a
• Food in reconditioned cans or retort
pouches should be used as soon as
possible, thereafter.
• Any concentrated baby formula in
reconditioned, all-metal containers must be
diluted with clean, drinking water.
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Q. How should I clean my pots, pans, dishes, and

A. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and
utensils (including can openers) with soap and
water, using hot water if available. Rinse and then
sanitize them by boiling in clean water or
immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1
tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per
gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest
water available).

Q. How should I clean my countertops?

A. Thoroughly wash countertops with soap and water,
using hot water if available. Rinse and then
sanitize them by applying a solution of 1
tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per
gallon of drinking water (or the cleanest, clearest
water available). Allow to air-dry.

Q. My home was flooded and I am worried about

the safety of the drinking water. What should I
A. Use bottled water that has not been exposed to
flood waters if it is available.

• If you don't have bottled water, you should

boil water to make sure it is safe. Boiling
water will kill most types of disease-
causing organisms that may be present. If
the water is cloudy, filter it through clean
cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the
clear water for boiling. Boil the water for
one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean
containers with covers.
• If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it
using household bleach. Bleach will kill
some, but not all, types of disease-causing
organisms that may be in the water. If the
water is cloudy, filter it through clean
cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the
clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular,

unscented, liquid household bleach for
each gallon of water, stir it well and let it
stand for 30 minutes before you use it.
Store disinfected water in clean containers
with covers.
• If you have a well that had been flooded,
the water should be tested and disinfected
after flood waters recede. If you suspect
that your well may be contaminated,
contact your local or state health
department or agriculture extension agent
for specific advice.

Q. We had a fire in our home and I am worried

about what food I can keep and what to throw
A. Discard food that has been near a fire. Food
exposed to fire can be damaged by the heat of the
fire, smoke fumes, and chemicals used to fight the
fire. Food in cans or jars may appear to be okay,
but the heat from a fire can activate food spoilage
bacteria. If the heat is extreme, the cans or jars
themselves can split or rupture, rendering the food

One of the most dangerous elements of a fire is

sometimes not the fire itself, but toxic fumes
released from burning materials. Discard any raw
food or food in permeable packaging—cardboard,
plastic wrap, screw-topped jars, bottles, etc.—
stored outside the refrigerator. Food stored in
refrigerators or freezers can also become
contaminated by fumes. The refrigerator seal isn't
airtight and fumes can get inside. Chemicals used
to fight the fire contain toxic materials and can
contaminate food and cookware. Food that is
exposed to chemicals should be thrown away—the
chemicals cannot be washed off the food. This
includes food stored at room temperature, such as
fruits and vegetables, as well as food stored in
permeable containers like cardboard and screw-
topped jars and bottles. Cookware exposed to fire-
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

fighting chemicals can be decontaminated by

washing in soap and hot water. Then submerge for
15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon
unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of

Q. A snowstorm knocked down the power lines,

can I put the food from the refrigerator and
freezer out in the snow?
A. No, frozen food can thaw if it is exposed to the
sun's rays even when the temperature is very cold.
Refrigerated food may become too warm and
foodborne bacteria could grow. The outside
temperature could vary hour by hour and the
temperature outside will not protect refrigerated
and frozen food. Additionally, perishable items
could be exposed to unsanitary conditions or to
animals. Animals may harbor bacteria or disease;
never consume food that has come in contact with
an animal. Rather than putting the food outside,
consider taking advantage of the cold temperatures
by making ice. Fill buckets, empty milk cartons or
cans with water and leave them outside to freeze.
Then put the homemade ice in your refrigerator,
freezer, or coolers.

Q. Some of my food in the freezer started to thaw

or had thawed when the power came back on.
Is the food safe? How long will the food in the
refrigerator be safe with the power off?
A. Never taste food to determine its safety! You
will have to evaluate each item separately. If an
appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer,
read the temperature when the power comes back
on. If the appliance thermometer stored in the
freezer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and
may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been
kept in the freezer, check each package of food to
determine the safety. Remember you can’t rely on
appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice
crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as power
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

is out no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed

as much as possible. Discard any perishable food
(such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers)
that have been above 40 °F for 2 hours.

Q. May I refreeze the food in the freezer if it

thawed or partially thawed?
A. Yes, the food may be safely refrozen if the food
still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below.
You will have to evaluate each item separately. Be
sure to discard any items in either the freezer or
the refrigerator that have come into contact with
raw meat juices. Partial thawing and refreezing
may reduce the quality of some food, but the food
will remain safe to eat. See the attached charts for
specific recommendations.

Refrigerator Foods
When to Save and When to Throw It Out
above 40
°F for over
2 hours
Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry,
fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes
Thawing meat or poultry Discard
Meat, tuna, shrimp,chicken, or egg salad Discard
Gravy, stuffing, broth Discard
Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage,
dried beef
Pizza – with any topping Discard
Canned hams labeled "Keep
Canned meats and fish, opened Discard
Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Discard
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream,

Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta,
mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel,
queso blanco, queso fresco
Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss,
Parmesan, provolone, Romano
Processed Cheeses Safe
Shredded Cheeses Discard
Low-fat Cheeses Discard
Grated Parmesan, Romano, or
combination (in can or jar)
Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk,
evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy Discard
Butter, margarine Safe
Baby formula, opened Discard
Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg
dishes, egg products
Custards and puddings Discard
Fresh fruits, cut Discard
Fruit juices, opened Safe
Canned fruits, opened Safe
Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried
fruits, candied fruits, dates


Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, above 50
horseradish °F for over
8 hrs.
Peanut butter Safe
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard,

catsup, olives, pickles
Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, Hoisin
Fish sauces (oyster sauce) Discard
Opened vinegar-based dressings Safe
Opened creamy-based dressings Discard
Spaghetti sauce, opened jar Discard
Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick Safe
breads, tortillas
Refrigerator biscuits,rolls, cookie dough Discard
Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes Discard
Pasta salads with mayonnaise or
Fresh pasta Discard
Cheesecake Discard
Breakfast foods –waffles, pancakes,
Pastries, cream filled Discard
Pies – custard,cheese filled, or chiffon;
Pies, fruit Safe
Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices Safe
Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged Discard
Vegetables, raw Safe
Vegetables, cooked; tofu Discard
Vegetable juice, opened Discard
Baked potatoes Discard
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Commercial garlic in oil Discard

Potato Salad Discard

Frozen Food
When to Save and When To Throw It Out
Still contains
ice crystals
Held above 40
FOOD and feels as
°F for over 2
cold as if
Beef, veal, lamb, Refreeze Discard
pork, and ground
Poultry and ground
Refreeze Discard
Variety meats
(liver, kidney, heart, Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews,
Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish,
there will be
breaded seafood Discard
some texture
and flavor

DAIRY Refreeze. May

Milk lose some Discard
Eggs (out of shell)
Refreeze Discard
and egg products
Ice cream, frozen
Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and Refreeze. May Discard
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

semi-soft) lose some

Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Refreeze Discard
containing milk,
Refreeze Discard
cream, eggs, soft
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard

Discard if
mold, yeasty
Juices Refreeze
smell, or
Discard if
Home or Refreeze. Will
mold, yeasty
commercially change texture
smell, or
packaged and flavor.

VEGETABLES Discard after

Juices Refreeze held above 40
°F for 6 hours.
Home or Refreeze. May
Discard after
commercially suffer texture
held above 40
packaged or and flavor
°F for 6 hours.
blanched loss.
Breads, rolls,
muffins, cakes Refreeze Refreeze
(without custard
Cakes, pies, pastries
with custard or Refreeze Discard
cheese filling
USDA Food Safety
Emergency Preparedness

Pie crusts, Refreeze.

commercial and Some quality
Quality loss is
homemade bread loss may
dough occur.
Casseroles – pasta, Refreeze Discard
rice based
Flour, cornmeal,
Refreeze Refreeze
Breakfast items –
waffles, pancakes, Refreeze Refreeze
Frozen meal, entree,
specialty items
(pizza, sausage and
Refreeze Discard
biscuit, meat
Preparing for Disaster
for People with
Disabilities and other
Special Needs
Visit the websites listed below to obtain additional information: The Access Board DHHS Administration on Aging National Council on Disability National Organization on Disability American Association for People with Disabilities American Foundation for the Blind National Association of the Deaf Los Angeles City Department on Disability Easter Seals
For the millions of Americans who have physical, medical,
sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires,
floods and acts of terrorism present a real challenge. The same
challenge also applies to the elderly and other special needs
populations. Protecting yourself and your family when disaster
strikes requires planning ahead. This booklet will help you get
started. Discuss these ideas with your family, friends and/or your
personal care attendant, or anyone else in your support network
and prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone
will see it, keep a copy with you and make sure everyone involved
in your plan has a copy.
Why Prepare?
Where will you, your family, your friends or personal care attendants
be when an emergency or disaster strikes?

You, and those you care about, could be anywhere — at home,

work, school or in transit. How will you find each other? Will you
know your loved ones will be safe?

Emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning

and can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you
to your home. What would you do if basic services — water, gas,
electricity or telephones — were cut off?

Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a

disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.

You are in the best position to plan for your own safety as you are
best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during
and after an emergency or disaster situation. You can cope with
disaster by preparing in
advance with your family
and care attendants. You
will need to create a
personal support network
and complete a personal
assessment. You will also
need to follow the four
preparedness steps listed
in this booklet.

1. Get informed
2. Make a plan
3. Assemble a kit
4. Maintain your plan and kit

Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.

What You Need to Do
Create a Personal Support Network

A personal support network (sometimes called a self-help team)

can help you prepare for a disaster. They can do this by helping you
identify and get the resources you need to cope effectively. Network
members can also assist you after a disaster happens.

Organize a network that includes your home, school, workplace,

volunteer site and any other places where you spend a lot of time.
Members of your network can be roommates, relatives, neighbors,
friends and co-workers. They should be people you trust and who
can check to see if you need assistance. They should know your
capabilities and needs and be able to provide help within minutes.

Do not depend on only one person. Include a minimum of three

people in your network for each location where you regularly spend
a lot of time because people work different shifts, take vacations
and are not always available.

Complete a Personal Assessment

Decide what you will be able to do for yourself and what assistance
you may need before, during and after a disaster. This will be based
on the environment after the disaster, your capabilities and your

To complete a personal assessment, make a list of your personal

needs and your resources for meeting them in a disaster environment.
Think about the following questions and note your answers in
writing or record them on a tape cassette that you will share with
your network. These answers should describe both your current
capabilities and the assistance you will need. Base your plan on
your lowest anticipated level of functioning.
Daily Living

Daily Living
 Personal Care
Do you regularly need assistance with personal care, such as
bathing and grooming? Do you use adaptive equipment to
help you get dressed?

 Water Service
What will you do if water service is cut off for several days
or if you are unable to heat water?

 Personal Care Equipment

Do you use a shower chair, tub-transfer bench or other similar

 Adaptive Feeding Devices

Do you use special utensils that help you prepare or eat food

 Electricity-Dependent Equipment
How will you continue to use equipment that runs on
electricity, such as dialysis, electrical lifts, etc.? Do you have
a safe back-up power supply and how long will it last?

Getting Around
 Disaster Debris
How will you cope with the debris in your home or along
your planned exit route following the disaster?

 Transportation
Do you need a specially equipped vehicle or accessible

 Errands
Do you need help to get groceries, medications and medical
supplies? What if your caregiver cannot reach you because
roads are blocked or the disaster has affected him or her as

 Building Evacuation
Do you need help to leave your home or office? Can you
reach and activate an alarm? Will you be able to evacuate
independently without relying on auditory cues (such as noise
from a machine near the stairs — these cues may be absent if
the electricity is off or alarms are sounding)?

 Building Exits
Are there other exits (stairs, windows or ramps) if the elevator
is not working or cannot be used? Can you read emergency
signs in print or Braille? Do emergency alarms have audible
and visible features (marking escape routes and exits) that
will work even if electrical service is disrupted?

 Getting Help
How will you call or summon for the help you will need
to leave the building? Do you know the locations of text
telephones and phones that have amplification? Will your
hearing aids work if they get wet from emergency sprinklers?
Have you determined how to communicate with emergency
personnel if you don’t have an interpreter, your hearing aids
aren’t working, or if you don’t have a word board or other
augmentative communication device?

 Mobility Aids/Ramp Access

What will you do if you cannot find your mobility aids?
What will you do if your ramps are shaken loose or become
separated from the building?

 Service Animals/Pets
Will you be able to care for your animal (provide food, shelter,
veterinary attention, etc.) during and after a disaster? Do you
have another caregiver for your animal if you are unable to
meet its needs? Do you have the appropriate licenses for
your service animal so you will be permitted to keep it with
you should you need or choose to use an emergency public

1. Get Informed
Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross
chapter to gather information you will need to create a plan.

 Community Hazards. Ask about the specific hazards that threaten

your community (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes) and about your
risk from those hazards. Additionally, hazard information for your local
area can be obtained at

 Community Disaster Plans. Learn about community response

plans, evacuation plans and designated emergency shelters. Ask about
the emergency plans and procedures that exist in places you and your
family spend time, such
as places of employment,
schools and child care
centers. If you do not own
a vehicle or drive, find
out in advance what your
community’s plans are for
evacuating those without
private transportation.

 Community Warning
Systems. Find out how
local authorities will warn
you of a pending disaster
and how they will provide information to you during and after a disaster. Learn
about NOAA Weather Radio and its alerting capabilities (

 Assistance Programs. Ask about special assistance programs

available in the event of an emergency. Many communities ask people with
a disability to register, usually with the local fire or police department or
the local emergency management office, so needed help can be provided
quickly in an emergency. Let your personal care attendant know you have
registered and with whom. If you are electric-dependent, be sure to register
with your local utility company.

2. Make a Plan
Because a disaster can disrupt your primary emergency plan, it is also
important for you to develop a back-up plan to ensure your safety.

 Meet with Your Family/Personal Care Attendants/Building

Manager. Review the information you gathered about community
hazards and emergency plans.

 Choose an Out-of-Town Contact. Ask an out-of-town friend or

relative to be your contact. Following a disaster, family members
should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must
know the contact’s phone numbers. After a disaster, it is often easier
to make a long distance call than a local call from a disaster area.

 Decide Where to Meet. In the event of an emergency, you may

become separated from household members. Choose a place right
outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. Choose
a location outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.

 Complete a Communications Plan. Your plan should include contact

information for family members, members of your support network,
caregivers, work and school. Your plan should also include information
for your out-of-town contact, meeting locations, emergency services
and the National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222). A form
for recording this information can be found at or at These websites also provide blank wallet cards
on which contact information can be recorded and carried in a wallet,
purse, backpack, etc. for quick reference. Teach your children how to
call the emergency phone numbers and when it is appropriate to do so.
Be sure each family member has a copy of your communication plan
and post it near your telephone for use in an emergency.

 Escape Routes and Safe Places. In a fire or other emergency, you

may need to evacuate on a moment’s notice. Be ready to get out fast.
Be sure everyone in your family knows the best escape routes out of
your home as well as where the safe places are in your home for each
type of disaster (i.e., if a tornado approaches, go to the basement or
the lowest floor of your home or an interior room or closet with no

Use a blank sheet of paper to draw the floor plans of your home.
Show the location of doors, windows, stairways, large furniture,
your disaster supplies kit, fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, other
visual and auditory alarms, collapsible ladders, first aid kits and
utility shut-off points. Show important points outside such as
garages, patios, stairways, elevators, driveways and porches.

Indicate at least two escape routes from each room, and mark
a place outside of the home where household members and/or
your personal care attendant should meet in case of fire. If you or

someone in your household uses a wheelchair, make exits from
your home wheelchair accessible.

Practice emergency evacuation drills at least two times a year,

but as often as you update your escape plan. Be sure to include
family and/or your personal care attendant in the drills.

 Plan for Your Pets.

Take your pets with
you if you evacuate.
However, be aware that
pets (other than service
animals) usually are not
permitted in emergency
public shelters for health
reasons. Prepare a list of
family, friends, boarding
facilities, veterinarians
and pet-friendly hotels
that could shelter your
pets in an emergency.

 Prepare for Different Hazards. Include in your plan how to

prepare for each hazard that could impact your local community
and how to protect yourself. For instance, most people shelter
in a basement when there is a tornado warning, but most
basements are not wheelchair accessible. Determine in advance
what your alternative shelter will be and how you will get there.
Other hazards, like a home fire, will require you to leave. Make
sure both primary and secondary exits are accessible and that
you can locate them by touch or feel (because lights may be out
and thick, black smoke may make it very hard to see). Reference
the websites listed on the back cover to learn more about the
different actions required for different hazards.

Action Checklist – Items to Do Before a Disaster
r Considerations for People with Disabilities
Those with disabilities or other special needs often have unique
needs that require more detailed planning in the event of a
disaster. Consider the following actions as you prepare:

• Learn what to do in case of power outages and personal

injuries. Know how to connect and start a back-up power
supply for essential medical equipment.
• Consider getting a medical alert system that will allow you
to call for help if you are immobilized in an emergency.
Most alert systems require a working phone line, so have a
back-up plan, such as a cell phone or pager, if the regular
landlines are disrupted.
• If you use an electric wheelchair or scooter, have a manual
wheelchair for backup.
• Teach those who may need to assist you in an emergency
how to operate necessary equipment. Also, label equipment
and attach laminated instructions for equipment use.
• Store back-up equipment (mobility, medical, etc.) at your
neighbor’s home or your school or workplace.
• Arrange for more than one person from your personal support
network to check on you in an emergency, so there is at least
one back-up if the primary person you rely on cannot.
• If you are vision impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, plan ahead
for someone to convey essential emergency information to
you if you are unable to use the TV or radio.
• If you use a personal care attendant obtained from an
agency, check to see if the agency has special provisions
for emergencies (e.g., providing services at another location
should an evacuation be ordered).
• If you live in an apartment, ask the management to identify
and mark accessible exits and access to all areas designated
for emergency shelter or safe rooms. Ask about plans for
alerting and evacuating those with sensory disabilities.
• Have a cell phone with an extra battery. If you are unable
to get out of a building, you can let someone know where
you are and guide them to you. Keep the numbers you may
need to call with you if the 9-1-1 emergency number is

• Learn about
devices and other
technology available
(PDAs, text radio,
pagers, etc.) to assist
you in receiving
emergency instructions
and warnings from local
• Be prepared to
provide clear, specific
and concise instructions
to rescue personnel.
Practice giving these
instructions (verbally,
pre-printed phrases, word board, etc.) clearly and quickly.
• Prepare your personal support network to assist you with
anticipated reactions and emotions associated with disaster
and traumatic events (i.e., confusion, thought processing and
memory difficulties, agitation, fear, panic and anxiety).
• You don’t have to be the only one prepared — encourage
others to be prepared and consider volunteering or working
with local authorities on disability and other special needs
preparedness efforts.

r Utilities
Know how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at
the main switches or valves and share this information with
your family and caregivers. Keep any tools you will need near
gas and water shut-off valves. Turn off the utilities only if you
suspect the lines are damaged, you suspect a leak or if local
officials instruct you to do so.

(Note: Gas shut-off procedure — As part of the learning

process, do not actually turn off the gas. If the gas is turned off
for any reason, only a qualified professional can turn it back on.
It might take several weeks for a professional to respond. In the
meantime, you will require alternate sources to heat your home,
make hot water and cook.)

r Fire Extinguisher
Be sure everyone knows how to use your fire extinguishers
(ABC type) and where they are kept.

r Smoke Alarms
Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially
near the bedrooms. Individuals with sensory disabilities
should consider installing smoke alarms that have strobe lights
and vibrating pads. Follow local codes and manufacturer’s
instructions about installation requirements. Also, consider
installing a carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

r Insurance Coverage
Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Homeowners
insurance does not cover flood damage and may not provide full
coverage for other hazards. Talk with your insurance agent and
make sure you have adequate coverage to protect your family
against financial loss.

r First Aid & CPR/AED (Automated External Defibrillation)

Take American Red Cross first aid and CPR/AED classes.
Red Cross courses can accommodate people with disabilities.
Discuss your needs when registering for the classes.

r Inventory Home Possessions

Make a record of your possessions to help you claim
reimbursement in case of loss or damage. Store this

information in a safe deposit box or other secure (flood/fire
safe) location to ensure the records survive a disaster. Include
photographs or video of the interior and exterior of your home
as well as cars, boats and recreational vehicles. Also, have
photos of durable medical equipment and be sure to make a
record of the make and model numbers for each item. Get
professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork or other
items that may be difficult to evaluate. Make copies of receipts
and canceled checks showing the cost for valuable items.

r Vital Records and Documents

Vital family records and other important documents such as
birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, passports,
wills, deeds, and financial, insurance and immunizations records
should be kept in a safe deposit box or other safe location.

r Reduce Home Hazards

In a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury and
damage. Take these steps to reduce your risk.

 Keep the shut-off switch for oxygen equipment near your

bed or chair, so you can get to it quickly if there is a fire.
 Have a professional repair defective electrical wiring and
leaky gas connections.
 Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves, and hang
pictures and mirrors away from beds.
 Use straps or other restraints to secure tall cabinets,
bookshelves, large appliances (especially water heater,
furnace and refrigerator), mirrors, shelves, large picture
frames and light fixtures to wall studs.
 Repair cracks in ceilings and foundations.
 Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products away
from heat sources.
 Place oily rags or waste in covered metal cans and dispose
of them according to local regulations.
 Have a professional clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes,
connectors and gas vents.

3. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

In the event you need to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take

essentials with you, you probably will not have the opportunity
to shop or search for the supplies you and your family will need.
Every household should assemble a disaster supplies kit and keep
it up to date.

A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items a family would

probably need to stay safe and be more comfortable during and after
a disaster. Disaster supplies kit items should be stored in a portable
container(s) as close as possible to the exit door. Review the con-
tents of your kit at least once per year or as your family's needs
change. Also, consider having emergency supplies in each vehicle
and at your place of employment.

The Following Should Be Included in Your Basic Disaster Supplies Kit:
 Three-day supply of non-perishable food and manual can opener
 Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day)
 Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
 Flashlight and extra batteries
 First aid kit and manual
 Sanitation and hygiene items (hand sanitizer, moist towelettes
and toilet paper)
 Matches in a waterproof container
 Whistle
 Extra clothing and blankets
 Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils
 Photocopies of identification and credit cards
 Cash and coins
 Special needs items such as prescription medications, eyeglasses,
contact lens solution and hearing aid batteries.
 Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles and pacifiers
 Tools, pet supplies, a map of the local area and other items to meet
your family's unique needs

If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible
that you will not have heat during or after a disaster. Think about your
clothing and bedding needs. Be sure to include one set of the following
for each person:
 Jacket or coat
 Long pants and long-sleeve shirt
 Sturdy shoes
 Hat, mittens and scarf
 Sleeping bag or warm blanket

Supplies for your vehicle include:

 Flashlight, extra batteries and maps.
 First aid kit and manual.
 White distress flag.
 Tire repair kit, booster/jumper cables, pump and flares.
 Bottled water and non-perishable foods such as granola bars.
 Seasonal supplies: Winter — blanket, hat, mittens, shovel, sand,
tire chains, windshield scraper, fluorescent distress flag; Summer
— sunscreen lotion (SPF 15 or greater), shade item (umbrella, wide-
brimmed hat, etc.).

4. Maintain Your Plan
Quiz: Review your plan every six months and quiz your family about
what to do.
Drill: Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills on a regular basis
with your family.
Restock: Check food supplies for expiration dates and discard, or replace
stored water and food every six months.
Test: Read the indicator on your fire extinguisher(s) and follow the
manufacturer's instructions to recharge. Test your smoke alarms monthly
and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace alarms every 10 years.

If Disaster Strikes
If you are instructed to take shelter immediately, do so at once

If you are instructed to evacuate

Should you need

to leave, your first
option and plan
should always
be to family or
friends first; they
can accommodate
you and your pets
and help you be
most comfortable
in a stressful situation. Emergency public shelters will be available
and can provide a safe place to stay and meals while you are there.
However, they do not provide personal health care. If you require
the care of a personal attendant and choose to go to a shelter, bring
the attendant with you.

 Listen to the radio or television for the location of

emergency shelters. Note those that are accessible to
those with physical disabilities and those that have other
disability-friendly assistance features, such as TTY lines.
 Shut off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so and
if time permits.
 Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes.
 Take your disaster supplies kit.
 Lock your home.
 Use travel routes specified by local authorities and don't
use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or
 Confirm upon arrival at an emergency shelter that it can
meet your special care needs.
 Inform members of your support network and out-of-town
contact of your location and status.

Learn More
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community and
Family Preparedness Program and American Red Cross Community
Disaster Education are nationwide efforts to help people prepare for
disasters of all types.

For more information, please contact your local emergency management

office or American Red Cross chapter. This booklet and the preparedness
materials listed below are online at and www.redcross.
org. Other preparedness materials are available at these sites, as well as

These publications are also available by calling FEMA at

1-800-480-2520, or writing:

P.O. Box 2012
Jessup, MD 20794-2012

Publications are available from your local American Red Cross


 Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22)

 Preparing for Disaster (FEMA 475) (Red Cross 658615)
 Food and Water in an Emergency (FEMA 477)
(Red Cross 658613)
 Helping Children Cope with Disaster (FEMA 478)
(Red Cross 658619)

Local sponsorship provided by:

FEMA 476
Red Cross 658618
June 2006
Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

❑ Prescription medications and glasses

❑ Infant formula and diapers
❑ Pet food and extra water for your pet
❑ Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies,
identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
❑ Cash or traveler’s checks and change
❑ Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information
❑ Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding
if you live in a cold-weather climate.
❑ Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long
pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a
cold-weather climate.
❑ Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water
to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to
treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not
use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners. Supply List
❑ Fire Extinguisher
❑ Matches in a waterproof container
❑ Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
❑ Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
❑ Paper and pencil
❑ Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Recommended Items to Include in Through its Ready Campaign,
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
a Basic Emergency Supply Kit: educates and empowers Americans to take
some simple steps to prepare for and
respond to potential emergencies, including
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days,
❑ for drinking and sanitation
natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Ready
asks individuals to do three key things: get
an emergency supply kit, make a family
❑ Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food emergency plan, and be informed about the
different types of emergencies that could
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with occur and their appropriate responses.
❑ tone alert and extra batteries for both All Americans should have some basic
supplies on hand in order to survive for at
❑ Flashlight and extra batteries least three days if an emergency occurs.
Following is a listing of some basic items that
❑ First aid kit every emergency supply kit should include.
However, it is important that individuals
❑ Whistle to signal for help review this list and consider where they live
and the unique needs of their family in order
Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic to create an emergency supply kit that will
❑ sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place meet these needs. Individuals should also
consider having at least two emergency

❑ Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation supply kits, one full kit at home and smaller
portable kits in their workplace, vehicle or
other places they spend time.
❑ Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

❑ Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

❑ Local maps
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
❑ Cell phone and chargers Washington, DC 20528
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Your Emergency
Preparedness GUIDE

Know the risks

Make a plan

Prepare a kit
06-123_72hrs_E.qxd 3/1/07 9:30 AM Page ii

72 hours
Is your family prepared?
Your emergency
preparedness guide
You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum
of 72 hours. If a disaster happens in your community, it may take emergency
workers some time to get to you as they help those in desperate need.
By taking a few simple steps today, you can become better prepared to face a
range of emergencies – anytime, anywhere. Use this guide to create your own
emergency plan. Use the checklists to build a 72-hour emergency kit. These
basic steps will help you to take care of yourself and your loved ones during
an emergency.

Our partners
This publication was developed in collaboration with:








Canadian Association Canadian Association

of Chiefs of Police of Fire Chiefs

This publication is also available in multiple formats (audio, Braille, large print
and diskette). To order, please call:
1 800 O-Canada (1 800 622-6232)
TTY: 1 800 926-9105

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada 2007

Cat. No.: PS4-26/1-1-2007E-PDF

ISBN: 978-0-662-45388-8
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Table of contents

STEP 1. Know the risks

Know your region Page 2

STEP 2. Make a plan Page 3

Household plan Page 3
Emergency contact information Page 6
Emergency instructions Page 9

STEP 3. Prepare a kit Page 11

Resources Page 14

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Know the risks
1 Know your region

Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks

specific to your region can help you prepare yourself better. Across Canada
we face a number of hazards, from earthquakes in British Columbia, to blizzards
in Nunavut, to hurricanes in New Brunswick. In addition to natural disasters
there are other types of risks, such as blackouts, industrial or transportation
accidents, and the possibility of acts of terrorism on Canadian soil.
The following list contains natural risks and other hazards. Check off the risks
that are most likely in your community.
❍ Blackout ❍ Landslide or avalanche
❍ Blizzard ❍ Storm
❍ Drought ❍ Terrorism
❍ Earthquake ❍ Tornado
❍ Flood ❍ Transportation accident
❍ Hazardous materials and spills ❍ Tsunami or storm surge
❍ Hurricane ❍ Wildfire
❍ Industrial accident ❍ Severe Weather (heat/cold)
❍ Infectious disease outbreak ❍ Other_________________

To learn more about emergency preparedness, or to order self-help publica-

tions on planning for earthquakes, storms, power outages and other risks, call:
1 800 O-Canada (1 800 622-6232)
TTY: 1 800 926-9105
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time
Or visit:

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2 Make a plan

Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your
family know what to do in case of an emergency.
Remember, your family may not be together when a disaster occurs. Plan how
to meet or contact one another and discuss what you would do in different
Use the following pages to create your plan. Most of this information can be
filled out on your own. You may need to get some information from your
Keep this document in an easy-to-find, easy-to-remember place (for example,
with your emergency kit). You might also want to make a photocopy of this
plan and keep it in your car and/or at work.

Safe idea: Learn about first aid. You could save a life.
Along with making emergency plans and preparing an emergency
kit, knowing first aid could save a life. Contact your local Canadian
Red Cross or St. John Ambulance to find out about first aid courses
offered in your area.

Household plan
Escape routes
Plan emergency exits from each room of your home. Try to think of two
possibilities for each room. If you live in an apartment, do not plan to use the
elevators. Also, identify an escape route from your neighbourhood in case you
are ordered to evacuate.

Emergency exits from home:

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Escape route from neighbourhood:

Tip: Make sure that everyone in your home knows how to get out
quickly. Practice at least once a year with everyone.

Meeting places
Identify safe places where everyone should meet if they have to leave home
during an emergency.

Safe meeting place near home:

Safe meeting place outside immediate


Tip: The meeting place near your home should be on the same side
of the street as your house. This way you don’t need to cross the
street into traffic or in front of fire trucks or ambulances during an

Safe idea: Make copies of important documents

Make copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences,
wills, land deeds and insurance. Keep them in a safe place inside
your home. As well, keep copies in a safe place outside your home.
You might want to put them in a safety deposit box or give them to
friends and family who live out of town.

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Ask your children’s school or daycare about their emergency policies. Find out
how they will communicate with families during an emergency.
Find out what type of authorization the school or daycare requires to release
your children to a designated person if you can’t pick them up yourself.
Make sure the school or daycare has updated contact information for parents,
caregivers and designated persons.

Designated person 1: Phone:

Designated person 2: Phone:

People with special health needs

Establish a personal support network of friends, relatives, health-care
providers, co-workers and neighbours who understand your special needs.
Write down details about your medical conditions, allergies, surgeries, family
medical history, medications, health screenings, recent vaccinations,
emergency contacts and insurance information.
Talk to your doctor about preparing a grab-and-go bag with a two-week supply
of medications and medical supplies, if possible. Include prescriptions and
medical documents. Remember that pharmacies may be closed for some
time, even after an emergency is over.

Health information:

Medications and medical equipment:

Grab-and-go bag location:

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Plan for pets

Remember that pets are not allowed in some public shelters or hotels because
of certain health regulations. Also, some people might be allergic to and/or
frightened by your pets. Plan to take your pets with you to a relative or friend’s
home, or identify a "pet-friendly" hotel or pet boarding facilities in advance.

Tip: Don’t forget to put pet food and water in your emergency kit.

Plan for specific risks

What should you do in case of an earthquake? Flood? Blackout? Write down
instructions for the risks that are most likely to occur in your region.

The Government of Canada provides a series of self-help publications on

specific emergencies. They can be downloaded at or
ordered free of charge by phoning 1 800 O-Canada (1 800 622-6232)
TTY: 1 800 926-9105.

Neighbourhood safety plan

Work with your neighbours to make sure everyone is taken care of in your
neighbourhood. Identify people who might need extra help during an
emergency. Assign "block buddies" to take care of each other.

Emergency contact information

Photocopy this list. Put a copy close to your telephone. If possible, program
these phone numbers into your home phone and cell phone.

Local emergency numbers

Fire, police, ambulance: 9-1-1 (where available)
Other: _______________________________________________________________

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Non-emergency numbers
Police: _______________________________________________________________
Fire: _________________________________________________________________
Health clinic: __________________________________________________________
Other contact numbers: ________________________________________________

Out-of-town contact
Name: _______________________________________________________________
Home phone: _________________________________________________________
Work phone: __________________________________________________________
Cell phone: ___________________________________________________________
E-mail: _______________________________________________________________
Home address: _______________________________________________________

• Plan for each family member to call or e-mail the same out-of
town contact person in the event of an emergency.
• Choose an out-of-town contact who lives far enough away that
he or she will probably not be affected by the same event.
• If you are new to Canada or don’t have an out-of-town contact
person, make arrangements through friends, cultural associations
or local community organizations.

Family Friend/Neighbour
Name: ___________________________ Name: ___________________________
Home phone: _____________________ Home phone: _____________________
Work phone: _____________________ Work phone: _____________________
Cell phone: _______________________ Cell phone: _______________________
E-mail: ___________________________ E-mail: ___________________________
Home address: Home address:
__________________________________ __________________________________
__________________________________ __________________________________

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Family doctors
Patient’s name: ________________________________________________________
Doctor’s name: ______________________________ Phone: __________________
Patient’s name: _______________________________________________________
Doctor’s name: ______________________________ Phone: __________________

Insurance agent/company
Agent’s/company’s name: ______________________________________________
Phone: ___________________

Safe home instructions

Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector, smoke detector
and fire extinguisher. If you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel, know
where the fire alarms are located.
Everyone in your home should know where to find the fire extinguisher.
All capable adults and older children should know how to use it.
Older children and adults should know how to turn off your home’s water,
electricity and gas. Make large, easy-to-see signs for water and gas shut-offs
as well as for the breaker panel or fuse box.
Teach children how and when to dial 9-1-1. Teach children how to call the
out-of-town contact person. Ensure your children know where the emergency
kit is located.
Fire extinguisher
Location: _____________________________________________________________
Water valve
Location: _____________________________________________________________
Shut-off instructions: ___________________________________________________
Utility company phone number: _________________________________________
Electrical box
Location: _____________________________________________________________
Utility company phone number: _________________________________________

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Gas valve
Location: _____________________________________________________________
Shut-off instructions (only shut off gas when authorities tell you to do so):
Utility company phone number: _________________________________________
Floor drain
Location: _____________________________________________________________
(always ensure it is clear of boxes, clothes or furniture, in case there is a flood)

Emergency instructions
When to call 9-1-1 (where available)
Report a fire. Report a crime. Save a life.
For non-emergency calls, use the seven-digit numbers listed in your local
phone book for police, fire and paramedic services.

In case of a major emergency

Follow your emergency plan.
Get your emergency kit.
Make sure you are safe before assisting others.
Listen to the radio or television for information from authorities. Local officials
may advise you to stay where you are. Follow their instructions.
Stay put until all is safe or until you are ordered to evacuate.

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Evacuation orders
Authorities will not ask you to leave your home unless they have reason to
believe you are in danger.
If you are ordered to evacuate, take your emergency kit, essential medica-
tions, copies of prescriptions, personal identification of each family member,
copies of essential family documentation and a cellular phone with you, if you
have one.
Use travel routes specified by local authorities.
If you have time, call or e-mail your out-of-town contact. Tell them where you
are going and when you expect to arrive. Once you are safe, let them know.
Tell them if any family members have become separated.
If you have time, leave a note telling others when you left and where you are.
Shut off water and electricity if officials tell you to.
Leave natural gas service ‘on’ unless officials tell you to turn it off.
(If you turn off the gas, the gas company has to reconnect it. In a major
emergency, it could take weeks for a professional to respond. You would be
without gas for heating and cooking.)
Take pets with you.
Lock your home.

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3 Prepare a kit

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by
without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.
You may have some of the items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operat-
ed radio, food, water and blankets. The key is to make sure they are organized
and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark?
Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase
with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall
closet. Make sure everyone in the household knows where the emergency kit is.

Basic emergency kit

• Water – at least two litres of water per person per day. Include small bottles
that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order
• Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods
(remember to replace the food and water once a year)
• Manual can-opener
• Flashlight and batteries
• Candles and matches or lighter (remember to place candles in sturdy
containers and to put them out before going to sleep)
• Battery-powered or wind-up radio (and extra batteries)
• First aid kit
• Special items such as prescription medications, infant formula and
equipment for people with disabilities
• Extra keys for your car and house
• Some cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills (travellers cheques are also
useful) and change for payphones
• A copy of your emergency plan and contact information

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Recommended additional items

• A change of clothing and footwear for each household member
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
• A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
• Garbage bags for personal sanitation
• Toilet paper and other personal care supplies
• Safety gloves
• Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, work gloves)
• Small fuel-driven stove and fuel (follow manufacturer’s directions and store
• Two litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning.

Pre-packaged kits:
Canadian Red Cross kits are available at
St. John Ambulance and Salvation Army kits can be purchased from the
following retailers:

Zellers Save-On-Foods Value Drug Mart

Home Outfitters IGA Apple Drugs
Rexall MarketPlace IGA Rxellence Professional Dispensary
Pharma Plus Thrifty Foods Quality Foods
Canadian Tire Buy-Low Foods TSC Stores
London Drugs Nesters Market Jean Coutu
Overwaitea Foods G&H Shop ‘N Save

Tip: Automated bank machines and their networks may not work
during an emergency or blackout. You may have difficulty using debit
or credit cards.

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Basic car kit

If you have a car, prepare a small kit and keep it in the vehicle
The basic kit should include:
• Food that won’t spoil (such as energy bars)
• Water
• Blanket
• Extra clothing and shoes
• Candle in a deep can and matches
• First aid kit with seatbelt cutter
• Warning light or road flares
• Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush
• List of contact numbers

Recommended additional items to keep in

your car
• Sand, salt or cat litter (non clumping)
• Antifreeze, windshield washer fluid
• Tow rope and jumper cables
• Fire extinguisher
• Roadmaps, whistle and flashlight

Prepare now
Don’t wait for an emergency to happen. There are simple things
you can do now to prepare yourself and your loved ones.
By simply reading this guide, you are well on your way.
Complete this guide one evening this week or during the
Make your plan and prepare your kit.
Write yourself a reminder to update your emergency plan one
year from now. On this date next year, review your contact
information, practice your emergency evacuation plans, change
the batteries in your smoke detector and carbon monoxide
detector and restock the contents of your kit.

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National resources
To learn more about emergency preparedness:
To order additional copies of this publication, or publications on planning for
earthquakes, storms, power outages and other risks, call:
1 800 O-Canada (1 800 622-6232) TTY: 1 800 926-9105
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time

Environment Canada Weather Office
Check the blue pages in your local phone book under Weather for weather
reports and forecasting available by phone.

Safe Canada
Comprehensive federal, provincial, territorial and municipal safety information
for all citizens.

Canadian Red Cross
Prepare for Life. Learn how to prepare and plan from a world leader in Disaster
Management and First Aid. The Canadian Red Cross is part of the largest
humanitarian organisation that aims to help the most vulnerable in neighbour-
hoods in Canada and around the world.

St. John Ambulance
Saving Lives – At work, home and play. As Canada’s standard for excellence in
first aid and CPR services, St. John Ambulance offers innovative programs and
products, ensuring Canadians can be prepared.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army brings relief to people around the world through its
emergency and disaster services. Ready to deploy its resources at very short
notice, our disaster units immediately work to reduce physical harm and help
victims regain control of their lives.

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