Skip Navigation

HOME  |  SITEMAP  |  CONTACT US  |  TRANSLATE

Quicklinks

Emergency Management 

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is a unique agency that serves Kendall County/City of Boerne.  Under Federal and State regulations, the Director of the Emergency Management Program is our chief elected officials:  our County Judge, Mayor.  The County Emergency Management Coordinator who is appointed by the Judge oversees the daily operations of the emergency management program.  OEM works closely with all county, city, state and federal agencies.  The County Emergency Manager is Jeffery Fincke.   The OEM also partners with many other agencies such as the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, all County Fire Departments, local Law Enforcement, the Amateur Radio Club, Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) Regional Emergency Planning Action Committee (REPAC) surrounding County Emergency Managers, the National Weather Service, the local hospital, the schools and school districts to make our county as emergency and disaster resistant as possible.

Emergencies and disasters can strike at any time, with no warning, these emergencies and disasters come in many different forms and shapes. The Kendall County Office of Emergency Management supports and protects the citizen of Kendall County by having and continuing to improve our capabilities to prevent, to prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate against the hazards we face. 

Emergency Management has five phases to help guide us in our mission to protect the citizens, visitors and responder in Kendall County.

 

THE FIVE PHASES OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

Prevention focuses on preventing human hazards, primarily from potential natural disasters or terrorist (both physical and biological) attacks. Preventive measures are designed to provide more permanent protection from disasters; however, not all disasters can be prevented. The risk of loss of life and injury can be limited with good evacuation plans, environmental planning and design standards. 

Preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action. Training and exercising plans is the cornerstone of preparedness which focuses on readiness to respond to all-hazards incidents and emergencies. 

Response is comprised of the coordination and management of resources (including personnel, equipment, and supplies) utilizing the Incident Command System in an all-hazards approach; and measures taken for life/property/environmental safety. The response phase is a reaction to the occurrence of a catastrophic disaster or emergency. 

Recovery consists of those activities that continue beyond the emergency period to restore critical community functions and begin to manage stabilization efforts. The recovery phase begins immediately after the threat to human life has subsided. The goal of the recovery phase is to bring the affected area back to some degree of normalcy. 

Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters and emergencies. Mitigation involves structural and non-structural measures taken to limit the impact of disasters and emergencies. Structural mitigation actions change the characteristics of buildings or the environment; examples include flood control projects, raising building elevations, and clearing areas around structures. Non-structural mitigation most often entails adopting or changing building codes.

Disaster Plan

The OEM takes an “all hazards” approach to emergency and disaster management which is reflected in our disaster plan and annexes.  This plan is made up of several components that encompass the Basic Plan and 22 annexes.  It is the responsibility of the Emergency Management to gather the local experts in these areas to write, review, and when necessary update the plan and annexes.

Training

Training is the root for an effective emergency or disaster response.  Our law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, fire fighters are excellent in handling emergencies and crisis situations.  However, when disaster strikes on a large scale, extraordinary measures are needed to manage our response, resources, and handle situations that are not with-in the normal day-today functions.  Because of the extraordinary circumstances training becomes critical.  The Office of Emergency Management works with the county, city agencies to identify and coordinate appropriate training opportunities.

Public Education and Awareness

Another responsibility for OEM is to inform you, the citizens and visitors, and responders of Kendall County and the City of Boerne information you need to know to prepare, shelter and protect yourself, family and friends from an emergency or disaster.  We continually strive to bring you the information in a timely manner.  This website will provide you with some of this information.  Click here for that information.

If you or your organization or business desire we can have representatives from the OEM come to speak on a variety of Emergency Management topics.  We can be contacted by calling 830-249-3721 or e-mail  

 

Click here to e-mail 
Another option is to complete a request from.  Click here for form

To sign up for different types of notifications in Kendall County and surrounding area click on the link below.

 

 Ready.gov: Recovering from Disaster

 FEMA

    Disaster Assistance

                                                                                   Event Preparedness

                                            

 

GENERAL PREPAREDNESS 

Disasters, both natural and man-made, can strike at any time. It's important to be prepared and have plans for anything that may arise. Here you can find tips for preparing and information on how to make plans.

PLANNING FOR AN EMERGENCY

Always Remain Calm

Be prepared to adopt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. Above all, stay calm, be patient, and think before you act. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.

Develop a Family Communications Plan

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. It may be easier to make a long distance phone call than to call across town. Have a family member or friend who lives in another location be a designated contact if this is the case. Be sure each person knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. Getting through may be tough so be patient. Cell phones are another option.

FEMA's Ready.gov site can help you prepare a family plan with details and downloadable materials on their Make a Plan page.

Deciding to Stay or Go

Use common sense and available information to determine if there is immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. You should watch TV, listen to the radio, and check the websites of news organizations and government officials often for information or official instructions as it becomes available.

Staying Put and "Sheltering in Place"

If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to "shelter in place" (staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside). Plan in advance where you will take shelter. Choose an interior room or a room with as few windows and doors as possible.

Quickly bring your family and pets inside, lock doors, and close windows, air vents, and fireplace dampers. Turn off air conditioning, forced air heating systems, exhaust fans, and clothes dryers. Seal off all windows and air vents in the room with heavyweight garbage bags or plastic sheeting and duct tape.

Getting Away

If you chose to evacuate, plan in advance how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. If you have a car, keep at least a half tank of gas in it at all times, or store an extra gas can in a safe location. Become familiar with alternate routes as well as other means of transportation out of your area. Take pets with you if you are going to evacuate. However, if you are going to a public shelter, keep in mind that they may not be allowed inside. Research ahead of time for pet friendly locations or what shelters will allow pets and what kinds they will allow. Also contact your local animal shelters. Many of them will have the ability to provide you with information on what can be done with your pet in cases of emergency.

For more information on planning for an evacuation, visit "Evacuating Yourself and Your Family" page.

BASIC EMERGENCY SUPPLIES KIT

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least ten days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a ten-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet; put together a Pet Emergency Kit
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information from this website
  • 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.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

In any emergency a family member or you yourself may suffer an injury. If you have these basic first aid supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt.

Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

  • Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
  • Non-prescription drugs:
    • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antacid
    • Laxative
  • Other first aid supplies:
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers
    • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant

PET EMERGENCY KIT

Put together a kit of pet emergency supplies. Just as you do with your family's emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food and water.

  • Food: Keep at least ten days of food in an airtight, waterproof container
  • Water: Store at least ten days of water specifically for your pets, in addition to water you need for yourself and your family
  • Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container
  • First aid kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet's emergency medical needs. Include a pet first aid reference book. Most kits should include:
    • Cotton bandage rolls
    • Bandage tape and scissors
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Flea and tick prevention
    • Latex gloves
    • Isopropyl alcohol
    • Saline solution
  • Collar with ID tag, harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet's emergency supply kit
  • Important documents: Place copies of your pet's registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and also add them to your kit
  • Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so
  • Sanitation: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water. Use 8 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before use. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches or those with added cleaners.
  • A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.

Consider two kits. In one, put everything your pets will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away.

MAKE A PLAN FOR WHAT YOU WILL DO IN AN EMERGENCY

Plan in advance what you will do in an emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation. Use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and ensure your pet's safety during an emergency.

Evacuate. Plan how you will assemble your pets and anticipate where you will go. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you, if practical. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your pets may not be allowed inside.

Secure appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of animals in your care. Consider family or friends outside your immediate area who would be willing to take in you and your pets in an emergency.

Other options may include: a hotel or motel that takes pets or some sort of boarding facility, such as a kennel or veterinary hospital that is near an evacuation facility or your family's meeting place. Find out before an emergency happens if any of these facilities in your area might be viable options for you and your pets.

Develop a buddy system. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet's emergency supply kit. Also designate specific locations, one in your immediate neighborhood and other farther away, where you will meet in an emergency.

Talk to your pet's veterinarian about emergency planning. Discuss the types of things you should include in your pet's emergency first aid kit. Get the names of vets or veterinary hospitals in other cities where you might need to seek temporary shelter. Also talk with your veterinarian about microchipping. If you and your pet are separated, this permanent implant for your pet and corresponding enrollment in a recovery database can help a veterinarian or shelter identify your animal. If your pet is microchipped, keeping your emergency contact information up to date and listed with a reliable recovery database is essential to you and your pet being reunited.

Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment. Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society or ASPCA and emergency veterinary hospitals. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you, and one in your pet's emergency supply kit. Obtain "Pets Inside" stickers and place them on your doors or windows, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency. And, if time permits, remember to write the words "Evacuated with Pets" across the stickers should you evacuate your home with your pets.

BE PREPARED FOR WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an emergency supply kit for yourself, your family and your pets, is the same regardless of the type of emergency. However, it's important to say informed about what might happen and know what types of emergencies are likely to affect your region.

  • Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.
  • Those who take the time to prepare themselves and their pets will likely encounter less difficulty, stress and worry. Take the time now to get yourself and your pet ready.

Knowing the actions to take for each type of threat will impact the specific decisions and preparations you make. By learning about these specific threats, you are preparing yourself to react in an emergency. Visit our "Prepare for an Event" page to learn how to prepare for specific threats.

FLOODS

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States; however not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others, such a flash-flood, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Additionally, floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water carrying rocks, mud and other debris. Overland flooding, the most common type of flooding event, typically occurs when waterways such as rivers or streams overflow their banks as a result of rainwater or a possible levee breach and cause flooding in surrounding areas. It can also occur when rainfall or snowmelt exceeds the capacity of underground pipes, or the capacity of streets and drains designed to carry flood water away from urban areas.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood.

 

For tips on how to survive a flood, watch the “Ready for Anything: Preparing for the Next Flood” video

BEFORE A FLOOD

What would you do if your property were flooded? Are you prepared?

Even if you feel you live in a community with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood. Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history; it's also based on a number of factors including rainfall, topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development.

Flood-hazard maps have been created to show the flood risk for your community, which helps determine the type of flood insurance coverage you will need since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.

In addition to having flood insurance, knowing following flood hazard terms will help you recognize and prepare for a flood.

To prepare for a flood, you should:

  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop flood water from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.

DURING A FLOOD

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.

AFTER THE FLOOD

Your home has been flooded. Although floodwaters may be down in some areas, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:

  • Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice as soon as available.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organization.
  • Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.

If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded:

  • Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and it's also slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

 

 

STAYING HEALTHY

A flood can cause physical hazards and emotional stress. You need to look after yourself and your family as you focus on cleanup and repair.

  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewer systems are serious health hazards.
  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Rest often and eat well.
  • Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do jobs one at a time.
  • Discuss your concerns with others and seek help. Contact Red Cross for information on emotional support available in your area.

CLEANING UP AND REPAIRING YOUR HOME

  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.
  • The Red Cross can provide you with a cleanup kit: mop, broom, bucket, and cleaning supplies.
  • Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.
  • Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal government or other organizations.
  • If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home.

FLOOD INSURANCE

What you should know:

  • Flood losses are not typically covered under renter and homeowner's insurance policies.
  • FEMA manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes federally-backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage.
  • Flood insurance is available in most communities through insurance agents.
  • There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect, so don't delay.
  • Flood insurance is available whether the building is in or out of an identified flood-prone area.

What you can do: Find out if your home or business is at risk to flood and educate yourself on the impact a flood could have on you and your family. FEMA's Flood Insurance Study compiled statistical data on river flows, storm tides, hydrologic/hydraulic analyses, and rainfall and topographic surveys to create flood hazard maps that outline your community's different flood risk areas.

Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and determine if you need additional coverage.

Contact the NFIP. They can help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves if additional coverage is required. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. To find out more about the NFIP visit the Flood Smart website.

EXTREME HEAT

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."

A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for humans who don't take the proper precautions.

BEFORE EXTREME HEAT

To prepare for extreme heat, you should:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Keep storm windows up all year.
  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.

DURING EXTREME HEAT

What you should do if the weather is extremely hot:

  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun's rays.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

 

WINTER STORMS AND EXTREME COLD

While the danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.

One of the primary concerns is the winter weather's ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as the “Deceptive Killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Instead, people die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. It is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

BEFORE WINTER STORMS AND EXTREME COLD

To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:

  • Before winter approaches, add the following supplies to your emergency kit:
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
    • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

DURING WINTER STORMS AND EXTREME COLD

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive:
    • Travel in the day,
    • Don't travel alone,
    • Keep others informed of your schedule,
    • Stay on main roads, and
    • Avoid back road shortcuts
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55°F (12.8°C).

AFTER WINTER STORMS AND EXTREME COLD

  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers.
  • Stay indoors, if possible.

 

WILDFIRES

More and more people are making their homes in woodland settings - in or near forests, rural areas, or remote mountain sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of wildfire.

Every year across our Nation, some homes survive - while many others do not - after a major wildfire. Those that survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared for the eventuality of fire, which is an inescapable force of nature in fire-prone wildland areas. Said in another way - if it's predictable, it's preventable!

Wildfires often begin unnoticed. These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees, and homes. Reduce your risk by preparing now - before wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area. Follow the steps listed below to protect your family, home, and property

 

For tips on how to survive a wildfire, watch the “A Community Rebuilds: Recovering from Wildfires” video

BEFORE A WILDFIRE

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of a fire.

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind. Select materials and plants that can help contain fire rather than fuel it.
  • Use fire-resistant or noncombustible materials on the roof and exterior structure of the dwelling, or treat wood or combustible material used in roofs, siding, decking or trim with fire-retardant chemicals evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees. For example, hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen, eucalyptus or fir trees.
  • Regularly clean roof and gutters.
  • Inspect chimneys at least twice a year. Clean them at least once a year. Keep the dampers in good working order. Equip chimneys and stovepipes with a spark arrester that meets the requirements of National Fire Protection Association Standard 211. (Contact your local fire department for exact specifications.)
  • Use 1/8-inch mesh screen beneath porches, decks, floor areas, and the home itself. Also, screen openings to floors, roof and attic.
  • Install a dual-sensor smoke alarm on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries at least once each year.
  • Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it's kept.
  • Keep handy household items that can be used as fire tools: a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Keep a ladder that will reach the roof.
  • Consider installing protective shutters or heavy fire-resistant drapes.
  • Clear items that will burn from around the house, including wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc. Move them outside of your defensible space.
  • Plan your water needs:
  • Identify and maintain an adequate outside water source such as a small pond, cistern, well, swimming pool, or hydrant.
  • Have a garden hose that is long enough to reach any area of the home and other structures on the property.
  • Install freeze-proof exterior water outlets on at least two sides of the home and near other structures on the property. Install additional outlets at least 50 feet from the home.
  • Consider obtaining a portable gasoline powered pump in case electrical power is cut off.
  • Your best resource for proper planning is the Firewise website which has outstanding information used daily by residents, property owners, fire departments, community planners, builders, public policy officials, water authorities, architects and others to assure safety from fire - it really works. Firewise workshops are offered for free all across the nation in communities large and small and free Firewise materials can be obtained easily by anyone interested.

DURING A WILDFIRE

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Take your disaster supply kit, lock your home and choose a route away from the fire hazard. Watch for changes in the speed and direction of the fire and smoke. Tell someone when you left and where you are going.

If you see a wildfire and haven't received evacuation orders yet, call 9-1-1. Don't assume that someone else has already called. Describe the location of the fire, speak slowly and clearly, and answer any questions asked by the dispatcher.

If you are not ordered to evacuate, and have time to prepare your home, FEMA recommends you take the following actions:

  • Arrange temporary housing at a friend or relative's home outside the threatened area in case you need to evacuate.
  • Wear protective clothing when outside – sturdy shoes, cotton or woolen clothes, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves and a handkerchief to protect your face.
  • Gather fire tools such as a rake, axe, handsaw or chain saw, bucket and shovel.
  • Close outside attic, eaves and basement vents, windows, doors, pet doors, etc. Remove flammable drapes and curtains. Close all shutters, blinds or heavy non-combustible window coverings to reduce radiant heat.
  • Close all doors inside the house to prevent draft. Open the damper on your fireplace, but close the fireplace screen.
  • Shut off any natural gas, propane or fuel oil supplies at the source.
  • Connect garden hoses to outdoor water faucet and fill any pools, hot tubs, garbage cans, tubs or other large containers with water.
  • Place lawn sprinklers on the roof and near above-ground fuel tanks. Leave sprinklers on and dowsing these structures as long as possible.
  • If you have gas-powered pumps for water, make sure they are fueled and ready.
  • Place a ladder against the house in clear view.
  • Disconnect any automatic garage door openers so that doors can still be opened by hand if the power goes out. Close all garage doors.
  • Place valuable papers, mementos and anything "you can't live without" inside the car in the garage, ready for quick departure. Any pets still with you should also be put in the car.
  • Place valuables that will not be damaged by water in a pool or pond.
  • Move flammable furniture into the center of the residence away from the windows and sliding-glass doors.
  • Turn on outside lights and leave a light on in every room to make the house more visible in heavy smoke.

AFTER A WILDFIRE

The following are guidelines for different circumstances in the period following a fire:

  • If you are with burn victims, or are a burn victim yourself, call 9-1-1 or seek help immediately; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
  • If you remained at home, check the roof immediately after the fire danger has passed. Put out any roof fires, sparks or embers. Check the attic for hidden burning sparks.
  • For several hours after the fire, maintain a "fire watch." Re-check for smoke and sparks throughout the house.
  • If you have evacuated, do not enter your home until fire officials say it is safe.
  • If a building inspector has placed a color-coded sign on the home, do not enter it until you get more information, advice and instructions about what the sign means and whether it is safe to enter your home.
  • If you must leave your home because a building inspector says the building is unsafe, ask someone you trust to watch the property during your absence.
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.
  • If you detect heat or smoke when entering a damaged building, evacuate immediately.
  • If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
  • Avoid damaged or fallen power lines, poles and downed wires.
  • Watch for ash pits and mark them for safety - warn family and neighbors to keep clear of the pits also.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets' paws or hooves.
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of fire ash and safe use of masks.
  • Wet debris down to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and heavy soled shoes to protect hands and feet.
  • Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.
  • Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Do NOT use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
  • Remain calm. Pace yourself. You may find yourself in the position of taking charge of other people. Listen carefully to what people are telling you, and deal patiently with urgent situations first.

HOUSE FIRES

Each year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 are injured in home fires in the United States, with direct property loss due to home fires estimated at $7.3 billion annually. Home fires can be prevented!

To protect yourself, it is important to understand the basic characteristics of fire. Fire spreads quickly; there is no time to gather valuables or make a phone call. In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Heat and smoke from fire can be more dangerous than the flames. Inhaling the super-hot air can sear your lungs. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Instead of being awakened by a fire, you may fall into a deeper sleep. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Every day Americans experience the horror of fire but most people don't understand fire.

Fire is FAST!

There is little time! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames. Most deadly fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won't have time to grab valuables because fire spreads too quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.

Fire is HOT!

Heat is more threatening than flames. A fire's heat alone can kill. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs. This heat can melt clothes to your skin. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once: this is called flashover.

Fire is DARK!

Fire isn't bright, it's pitch black. Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you've lived in for years.

Fire is DEADLY!

Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door. You may not wake up in time to escape.

Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare our families and ourselves.

BEFORE A FIRE

Create and practice a fire escape plan.

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.

Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan. Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:

  • Find two ways to get out of each room.
  • If the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke, you will need a second way out. A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Only purchase collapsible ladders evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Windows and doors with security bars must have quick release devices to allow them to be opened immediately in an emergency. Make sure everyone in the family understands and practices how to properly operate and open locked or barred doors and windows.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

 

For tips on how to prevent home fires, watch the “Fire is Everyone's Fight” video from FEMA.

DURING A FIRE

  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out fast. You may have only seconds to escape safely.
  • If there is smoke blocking your door or first way out, use your second way out.
  • Smoke is toxic. If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can't get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can't get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out. Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out. If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel. Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

AFTER A FIRE

Recovering from a fire can be a physically and mentally draining process. When fire strikes, lives are suddenly turned around. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact.

The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
  • If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know the site will be unoccupied.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
  • Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

For more information on what you should do after a home fire, including valuing your property, replacing documents, and salvage hints, visit the U.S. Fire Administration's website.

EVACUATING YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY

Prepare now in the event of an evacuation.

Evacuations are more common than many people realize. Fires and floods cause evacuations most frequently across the U.S. and almost every year, people along coastlines evacuate as hurricanes approach. In addition, hundreds of times a year, transportation and industrial accidents release harmful substances, forcing many people to leave their homes.

In some circumstances, local officials decide that the hazards are serious and require mandatory evacuations. In others, evacuations are advised or households decide to evacuate to avoid situations they believe are potentially dangerous. When community evacuations become necessary local officials provide information to the public through the media. In some circumstances, other warning methods, such as sirens, text alerts, emails or telephone calls are used.

The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. If the event is a weather condition, such as a hurricane, you might have a day or two to get ready. However, many disasters allow no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential.

Plan how you will assemble your family and supplies and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency and know the evacuation routes to get to those destinations.

There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Follow these guidelines for evacuation:

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Communications Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.
  • If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency. Prepare a pet emergency kit.

If time allows:

  • Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
  • Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
  • Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
  • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap.
  • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING

All thunderstorms are dangerous. Every thunderstorm produces lightning. While lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. In 2010 there were 29 fatalities and 182 injuries from lightning. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding. Flash flooding is responsible for more fatalities – more than 140 annually – than any other thunderstorm-associated hazard. Dry thunderstorms that do not produce rain that reaches the ground are most prevalent in the western United States. Falling raindrops evaporate, but lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires.

 

BEFORE THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING

To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.

DURING THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING

If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal - tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.

AFTER A THUNDERSTORM OR LIGHTNING STRIKE

If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:

  • Breathing - if breathing has stopped, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Heartbeat - if the heart has stopped, administer CPR.
  • Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.
  • After the storm passes remember to:
    • Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around, don't drown!
    • Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
    • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
    • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
    • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
    • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.

TORNADOES

Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado. 

 

BEFORE A TORNADO

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

DURING A TORNADO

If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately! Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.

If you are in a structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building):

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Put on sturdy shoes.
  • Do not open windows.

If you are in a trailer or mobile home:

  • Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you are outside with no shelter:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
  • Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
  • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

AFTER A TORNADO

Injury may result from the direct impact of a tornado or it may occur afterward when people walk among debris and enter damaged buildings. A study of injuries after a tornado in Marion, Illinois, showed that 50 percent of the tornado-related injuries were suffered during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. Nearly a third of the injuries resulted from stepping on nails. Because tornadoes often damage power lines, gas lines or electrical systems, there is a risk of fire, electrocution or an explosion. Protecting yourself and your family requires promptly treating any injuries suffered during the storm and using extreme care to avoid further hazards.

Injuries

Check for injuries. Do not attempt to move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Get medical assistance immediately. If someone has stopped breathing, begin CPR if you are trained to do so. Stop a bleeding injury by applying direct pressure to the wound. Have any puncture wound evaluated by a physician. If you are trapped, try to attract attention to your location.

General Safety Precautions

  • Here are some safety precautions that could help you avoid injury after a tornado:
  • Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be careful when entering any structure that has been damaged.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves when handling or walking on or near debris.
  • Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns, if possible, rather than candles to light homes without electrical power. If you use candles, make sure they are in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood or other flammable items. Never leave a candle burning when you are out of the room.
  • Never use generators, pressure washers, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage or camper - or even outside near an open window, door or vent. Carbon monoxide (CO) - an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if you breathe it - from these sources can build up in your home, garage or camper and poison the people and animals inside. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed or nauseated.
  • Hang up displaced telephone receivers that may have been knocked off by the tornado, but stay off the telephone, except to report an emergency.
  • Cooperate fully with public safety officials.
  • Respond to requests for volunteer assistance by police, fire fighters, emergency management and relief organizations, but do not go into damaged areas unless assistance has been requested. Your presence could hamper relief efforts and you could endanger yourself.

Inspecting the Damage

  • After a tornado, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.
  • In general, if you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
  • If it is dark when you are inspecting your home, use a flashlight rather than a candle or torch to avoid the risk of fire or explosion in a damaged home.
  • If you see frayed wiring or sparks, or if there is an odor of something burning, you should immediately shut off the electrical system at the main circuit breaker if you have not done so already.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open all windows and leave the house immediately. Notify the gas company, the police or fire departments, or State Fire Marshal's office and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to your house until you are told it is safe to do so.

SAFETY DURING CLEAN UP

  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves.
  • Learn proper safety procedures and operating instructions before operating any gas-powered or electric-powered saws or tools.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, drugs, flammable liquids and other potentially hazardous materials.

WEST NILE VIRUS

West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States.  It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV do not feel sick. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. You can reduce your risk of WNV by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants to prevent mosquito bites.

Prevention

Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

Transmission

Statistics & Maps

West Nile Virus & Dead Birds

Mosquito Control

For Healthcare Providers

Resources

 

At-A-Glance

 

Mosquito Control

Everyone can help…

 

Activity and Surveillance

Check where WNV is active…

 

Feeling feverish?

Could it be WNV?

 

Content provided and maintained by the US Center for disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Please see our system usage guidelines and disclaimer.

 

 

Zika Virus

 

Additional Information:

Symptoms, Testing and Treatment

For Pregnant Women

For Health Care Providers

For Travelers, Parents, and Other Groups

Communication Resources

Mosquito Control

Areas with Zika

Mosquitoes and Hurricanes

Men and Zika

What’s your Zika IQ?

Pregnant women

Areas with Risk of Zika

About Zika

What everyone needs to know about Zika virus.

Symptoms, Testing, & Treatment

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain.

Prevention & Transmission

Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected mosquito. Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites.

Health Effects & Risks

Zika can cause birth defects and is linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Pregnancy

Essential information about Zika for pregnant women and couples interested in conceiving.

 

Zika in the US

Stay informed about Zika in the United States.

For Healthcare Providers

Up-to-date guidance, resources, and training for providers evaluating and caring for patients with Zika.

Statistics & Maps

CDC has a surveillance system for collecting data on Zika virus cases.

Mosquito Control

Prevent the spread of Zika by controlling mosquitoes in and around your home and community.

 

Information for Specific Groups

What's your Zika IQ?

Learn the top 5 things you need to know about Zika.

More

Scientific Resources

 

     

Communication Resources

For Travelers

In 2018 and 2019, no local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in the continental United States.

If you are traveling outside of the continental United States, see Zika Travel Information to learn about your destination.

Prevent mosquito bites when traveling:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

To receive email updates about this page, enter your email address:

Email Address

What’s this?

Content provided and maintained by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please see our system usage guidelines and disclaimer.

CARING FOR ANIMALS

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Unfortunately, animals are also affected by disaster.

The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.

If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.

Make a backup emergency plan in case you can't care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

For additional information, please contact the Humane Society of the United States.

Plan for pet needs during a disaster by:

  • Identifying a shelter. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. Include your local animal shelter's number in your list of emergency numbers. They might be able to provide information concerning pets during a disaster.
  • Take pet food, bottled water, medications, veterinary records, cat litter/pan, manual can opener, food dishes, first aid kit and other supplies with you in case they're not available later. Before you find yourself in an emergency situation, consider packing a "pet survival" kit which could be easily deployed if disaster hits.
  • Make sure identification tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home.
  • Make sure you have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes.
  • Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if he panics, he can't escape.
  • If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.
  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers. Note: It is best to allow animals a chance to become accustomed to vehicular travel so they are less frightened and easier to move.
  • Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
  • If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.

 

For tips on how to prepare your pets for an emergency, watch the “Including Your Pets in Your Emergency Plans” video from FEMA.

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INCIDENTS

Chemicals are found everywhere. They purify drinking water, increase crop production and simplify household chores. But chemicals also can be hazardous to humans or the environment if used or released improperly. Hazards can occur during production, storage, transportation, use or disposal. You and your community are at risk if a chemical is used unsafely or released in harmful amounts into the environment where you live, work or play.

Hazardous materials in various forms can cause death, serious injury, long-lasting health effects and damage to buildings, homes and other property. Many products containing hazardous chemicals are used and stored in homes routinely. These products are also shipped daily on the nation's highways, railroads, waterways and pipelines.

Chemical manufacturers are one source of hazardous materials, but there are many others, including service stations, hospitals and hazardous materials waste sites.

Varying quantities of hazardous materials are manufactured, used or stored at an estimated 4.5 million facilities in the United States - from major industrial plants to local dry cleaning establishments or gardening supply stores.

Hazardous materials come in the form of explosives, flammable and combustible substances, poisons and radioactive materials. These substances are most often released as a result of transportation accidents or because of chemical accidents in plants.

Before a Hazardous Materials Incident

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property from the effects of a hazardous materials incident:

  • Build an Emergency Supply Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You should add plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors to the kit in order be better prepared for a hazardous materials incident. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate.
  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.

During a Hazardous Materials Incident

Listen to local radio or television stations for detailed information and instructions. Follow the instructions carefully. You should stay away from the area to minimize the risk of contamination. Remember that some toxic chemicals are odorless.

If you are asked to evacuate:

  • Do so immediately.
  • Stay tuned to a radio or television for information on evacuation routes, temporary shelters, and procedures.
  • Follow the routes recommended by the authorities - shortcuts may not be safe. Leave at once.
  • If you have time, minimize contamination in the house by closing all windows, shutting all vents, and turning off attic fans.
  • Take pre-assembled disaster supplies.
  • Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs.

If you are caught outside:

  • Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind! In general, try to go at least one-half mile (usually 8-10 city blocks) from the danger area. Move away from the accident scene and help keep others away.
  • Do not walk into or touch any spilled liquids, airborne mists, or condensed solid chemical deposits. Try not to inhale gases, fumes and smoke. If possible, cover mouth with a cloth while leaving the area.
  • Stay away from accident victims until the hazardous material has been identified.

If you are in a motor vehicle:

  • Stop and seek shelter in a permanent building. If you must remain in your car, keep car windows and vents closed and shut off the air conditioner and heater.

If you are requested to stay indoors:

  • Bring pets inside.
  • Close and lock all exterior doors and windows. Close vents, fireplace dampers, and as many interior doors as possible.
  • Turn off air conditioners and ventilation systems. In large buildings, set ventilation systems to 100 percent recirculation so that no outside air is drawn into the building. If this is not possible, ventilation systems should be turned off.
  • Go into the pre-selected shelter room. This room should be above ground and have the fewest openings to the outside.
  • Seal gaps under doorways and windows with wet towels or plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Seal gaps around window and air conditioning units, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, and stove and dryer vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting, wax paper or aluminum wrap.
  • Use material to fill cracks and holes in the room, such as those around pipes.
  • If gas or vapors could have entered the building, take shallow breaths through a cloth or a towel. Avoid eating or drinking any food or water that may be contaminated.

After a Hazardous Materials Incident

The following are guidelines for the period following a hazardous materials incident:

  • Act quickly if you have come in to contact with or have been exposed to hazardous chemicals.
  • Follow decontamination instructions from local authorities. You may be advised to take a thorough shower or you may be advised to stay away from water and follow another procedure.
  • Seek medical treatment for unusual symptoms as soon as possible.
  • Place exposed clothing and shoes in tightly sealed containers. Do not allow them to contact other materials. Call local authorities to find out about proper disposal.
  • Advise everyone who comes in to contact with you that you may have been exposed to a toxic substance.
  • Listen to local radio or television stations for the latest emergency information.
  • Help a neighbor who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with access and functional needs. People who care for them or who have large families may need additional assistance in emergency situations.
  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe. Open windows and vents and turn on fans to provide ventilation.
  • Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.
  • Report any lingering vapors or other hazards to your local emergency services office.

HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCIES

Nearly every household uses products containing hazardous materials or chemicals. Although the risk of a chemical accident is slight, knowing how to handle these products and how to react during an emergency can reduce the risk of injury.

Before a Household Chemical Emergency

The following are guidelines for buying and storing hazardous household chemicals safely:

  • Buy only as much of a chemical as you think you will use. Leftover material can be shared with neighbors or donated to a business, charity or government agency. For example, excess pesticide could be offered to a greenhouse or garden center and theater groups often need surplus paint. Some communities have organized waste exchanges where household hazardous chemicals and waste can be swapped or given away.
  • Keep products containing hazardous materials in their original containers and never remove the labels unless the container is corroding. Corroding containers should be repackaged and clearly labeled.
  • Never store hazardous products in food containers.
  • Never mix household hazardous chemicals or waste with other products. Incompatibles, such as chlorine bleach and ammonia, may react, ignite or explode.
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructors for the proper use of the household chemical.
  • Never smoke while using household chemicals.
  • Never use hair spray, cleaning solutions, paint products, or pesticides near an open flame (e.g., pilot light, lighted candle, fireplace, wood burning stove, etc.) Although you may not be able to see or smell them, vapor particles in the air could catch fire or explode.
  • Clean up any chemical spill immediately. Use rags to clean up the spill. Wear gloves and eye protection. Allow the fumes in the rags to evaporate outdoors, then dispose of the rags by wrapping them in a newspaper and placing them in a sealed plastic bag in your trash can.
  • Dispose of hazardous materials correctly. Take household hazardous waste to a local collection program. Check with your county or state environmental or solid waste agency to learn if there is a household hazardous waste collection program in your area.
  • Post the number of the emergency medical services and the poison control center by all telephones. In an emergency situation, you may not have time to look up critical phone numbers. The national poison control number is 800.222.1222.

During a Household Chemical Emergency

Get out of the residence immediately if there is a danger of fire or explosion. Do not waste time collecting items or calling the fire department when you are in danger. Call the fire department from outside (a cellular phone or a neighbor's phone) once you are safely away from danger.

  • Stay upwind and away from the residence to avoid breathing toxic fumes.

     

  • Recognize and respond to symptoms of toxic poisoning including:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irritation of the eyes, skin, throat, or respiratory tract
  • Changes in skin color
  • Headache or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Clumsiness or lack of coordination
  • Cramps or diarrhea

If someone is experiencing toxic poisoning symptoms or has been exposed to a household chemical, call the national poison control center at 800.222.1222 and find any containers of the substance that are readily available in order to provide requested information.

Follow the emergency operator or dispatcher's first aid instructions carefully. The first aid advice found on containers may be out of date or inappropriate. Do not give anything by mouth unless advised to do so by a medical professional.

After a Household Chemical Emergency

Discard clothing that may have been contaminated. Some chemicals may not wash out completely.

COPYRIGHT © 2018. KENDALL COUNTY, TEXAS

powered by ezTaskTitanium TM