An emergency can occur quickly and without warning. The most important thing you can do to keep yourself and your family safe from an emergency is to prepare, stay calm, and follow instruction from emergency personnel.
The following suggestions will help you and your family develop an emergency plan, assemble a preparedness kit, and share some basic information on what to do before, during, and after any emergency. These will also provide you with important information about how to obtain emergency and ongoing disaster recovery assistance.
Before Emergency Strikes
An emergency can occur without warning, leaving little or no time for you and your family to plan what to do next. It is necessary for you to learn about the things you can do to be prepared before an emergency occurs. Two actions that will help you do this are to develop an Emergency Plan, and prepare an Disaster Supply Kit. The next few pages describe how this is done.
Create an Emergency Plan
Before creating your household emergency plan, learn about the types of emergencies that may affect your community, how you'll be notified of an event, and plans that may be in place to deal with these events. Learn if your community has a warning system-via television, radio, or another signal-recognize what it sounds like and what to do when you hear it. Emergencies may strike when your family members are away from home, so find out about plans at your workplace, school, or anywhere else you and your family spends time. Steps to take in creating a household emergency plan includes:
- Meet with household members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events, including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills, and terrorism.
- Discuss how you and your family will respond to each possible emergency.
- Discuss what to do in case of power outages or personal injuries.
- Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room.
- Teach adults how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main switches. If for any reason you do turn off natural gas service to your home, call to restore service, Do not attempt to restore gas service yourself.
- Post emergency contact numbers near all telephones, pre-program emergency numbers into phones with auto-dial capabilities.
- Teach children how and when to dial 9-1-1 to get emergency assistance.
- Teach children how to make long-distance telephone calls.
- Pick a friend or relative that all family members will call if separated (it is often easier to call out-of-state during an emergency than within the affected area.
- Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
- Pick two meeting places:
- A place near your home.
- A place outside your neighborhood (or off-island) in case you cannot return home after an emergency.
- Take a basic First Aid and CPR Class. Contact American Red Cross for more info.
- Keep family records in a water and fireproof safe. Inexpensive models can be purchased at most hardware store.
- Repair defective electrical wiring, leaky gas, and inflexible utility connections
- Bolt down water heaters and propane gas tanks
- Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas, and water at main switches/valves
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves
- Securely fasten shelves to walls; brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects
- Store bottled food, glass, china and other breakables on lower shelves
- Anchor overhead lighting fixtures solidly in place
- Check and repair deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations
- Hold occasional earthquake drills so each member of your family knows what to do
- Develop a family plan for reuniting after an earthquake
- Review insurance to determine coverage for earthquake damage
During an earthquake, keep calm panic kills!
If you are indoors:
- get under a sturdy piece of furniture (desk or table) or doorway
- stay clear of windows and exterior doors
If you are outside:
- Get to an open area/space away from buildings, coconut trees, utility wires/poles
If you are in the car:
- stop the car but stay inside
- do not stop on a bridge, under a tree, utility wires/poles, or sign
After an earthquake ...stay vigilant!
- Do not enter partially collapsed or damaged buildings
- Report structural damage to local officials
- Avoid exposed electrical wiring (indoors or out)
- Do not use candles, matches, or open flames indoors because of possible gas leaks
- Check home for any possible fire or fire hazards
- Turn off main gas valve if leak is suspected
- Turn off water main valve if you see that water pipes are damaged
- Shut off electrical poser at the control box, if there is any damage to your house wiring
- Only use the phone for emergencies (injuries, fire, trapped people)
- Check your neighbors to see if they need assistance
- Be prepared for aftershocks
- Stay off the streets; if you must travel, be on a lookout for downed tree/utility poles and weakened bridges
- Locate/have ready Emergency Supply Kit
- Cooperate with public safety officials
These recommendations and suggestions are intended to improve both natural and man-made disasters preparedness, response and recovery. The contents are meant to improve your readiness capability but do not guarantee the safety of any individual, structure, or facility in a disaster situation. Neither the United States, the Island of Guam nor the Office of Civil Defense assumes liability for any injury, death, or property damage that results from any disasters.
Valuable input was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Government of District of Columbia, Chemtrec, American Red Cross and RleneLive.com archives.