Monday, March 8, 2010

Preparedness tip of the week: Know your drills

Do you head outside for a tornado?

Do you stop your car on an overpass during an earthquake?

Do you go kayaking during a flood?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we need to brush up on our drills.

No, I don't mean dental or construction drills. I mean emergency drills.

Earthquake Drill
If you are inside, stay inside. Drop, cover and hold on (much like the cat in the picture above). Take cover under and hold onto a piece of heavy furniture or stand against an inside wall. Stay away from windows and doors.

If you are outside, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines. Drop to the ground until the shaking stops.

If you are in your car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Turn on your emergency flashers and do not stop on overpasses, underpasses or bridges. Turn off the ignition and set the parking brake.

Tornado Drill
If you are indoors, 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. Do not open windows.

If you are outdoors and cannot get inside, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. 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.

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 streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings 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 quickly swept away.

Fire Drill
A fire drill is much like a rapid dismissal. Get out of the building quickly. Typically, from the moment of ignition, potential victims of fire have less that six minutes to safely escape. Take the stairs, not elevator or escalator.

Chinese Fire Drill
When the car is stopped at a traffic light, get out of the car, circle it and get back in... wait... how did that get in the list? Disclaimer: the American Red Cross does not endorse chinese fire drills. This is not a method of preparedness.

Now for a little music to get you in the preparedness mood, "Ring of Fire."

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