General Emergency Preparedness
Many natural disasters and other emergencies can strike without warning. In addition, after a major incident, there’s a good chance that public safety services will be busy handling emergencies. Your best defense is to be prepared at all times.
- Be prepared. Know where your gas meter is located and keep a 12″ adjustable wrench (or larger) with your emergency supplies, or next to your gas valve. Even in the case of an earthquake or other emergencies, turn off your gas meter ONLY if you smell gas or hear gas leaking.
- To help prevent your water heater from moving or toppling in an earthquake, strap it firmly to the wall studs in two places — the upper and lower one-third of the tank — with heavy bolts and metal tape. Be sure to place the lower strap at least 4 inches above the thermostat controls. Kits are often available at your local hardware store.
- Replace any semi-rigid aluminum or copper gas tubing with approved flexible metal appliance connector.
- Check safety devices, such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, to ensure that they are functioning properly
- Check your furnace and other gas appliances for safe operation. Have a qualified heating contractor make any needed repairs
Most of us have at one time or another thought about what we would do in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, too many of us never go beyond just thinking about it. Even worse, some people believe having stored food supplies and a few thoughts about what they would do in an emergency is being prepared. The truth is without formalizing your thoughts on how you want to approach various emergencies you are not prepared. In other words, being prepared means not only having supplies but having a written plan that includes training and practice. Developing a written plan not only organizes your thoughts it also provides a systematic and repeatable approach to emergencies. It’s also an excellent tool for training and practicing.
Your plan should be tailored to meet your specific situation and the special actions required to meet specific types of emergencies. For example, what action should be taken in the event of a fire versus an earthquake or flood. Here are a few examples of emergencies for you to consider:
- House or wild fire
- School or work emergency
- Large chemical spills near your neighborhood
Create an emergency plan for your family, identifying two places for the family to meet — 1) a place outside your home and 2) a spot away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
- Practice the plan with your family, including your children
- Make sure your children are aware of the routes away from home
- Develop a plan for family pets and livestock. Evacuation shelters may not allow animals
- Plan safe routes away from your home and business to high, safe ground
- Designate a friend outside the area who family members can call if separated
- Review the emergency plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center and other places where members of your family regularly spend time away from home
- Review and update your plan, as needed, at least annually.
- Keep current important documents in a safe-deposit box
- Know if your home is in an area at risk of flooding or landslide
- Check the condition of your roof
- Clean debris from drains around your home or yard
Now is the time to stock up on at least 72 hours worth of emergency supplies that add to your safety and comfort during and after an earthquake.
Below are some essential items to include in your emergency preparedness kit:
• Bottled water – three day supply of bottled water (one gallon per person, per day)
• First-aid kit, handbook, and essential medications
• Packaged, dried or canned food and any special diet items
• Special provisions for babies, elderly, disabled family members, and pet
• Non-electric can opener
• Blankets or sleeping bags
• A portable radio, flashlight, batteries and light sticks
• Extra eyeglasses and sets of house and car keys
• Fire extinguisher –A-B-C type
• Rubber boots, rain pancho,
• Plastic trash bags
• Sturdy pair of shoes, warm clothing and personal hygiene items
- DO NOT turn off your meter unless you smell gas or hear gas leaking.
- Contact a licensed contractor or The Natural Gas Company to relight any gas appliances or pilot lights that are out. Do not turn gas back on by yourself.
- It is recommended that a shut-off valve be installed at every gas appliance. If a leak occurs at a specific appliance, the valve will permit you to turn off the gas at the appliance rather than shutting off all gas service at the meter. Some valves require a wrench to turn them.
- Check your water heater and furnace vents. If the venting system becomes separated during an earthquake, it could leak hazardous fumes to your home. Signs of an improperly vented appliance may include moisture on the inside of windows or an unusual odor when the appliance is in operation.
- DO NOT use any electrical appliances until you’re sure there are no gas leaks.
- Keep informed of the situation through local radio and TV
- If evacuation is necessary, prepare an evacuation kit, including personal hygiene items, change of clothes, bedding and medication, if possible. Food, shelter and first aid are available at shelters
- If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors, especially elderly and disabled persons
- Use the telephone only for family emergency needs or to report unsafe or dangerous conditions
- Do not use 911 unless you have a life-threatening emergency
- Avoid unnecessary trips. If you must travel during an emergency, dress in warm, loose layers of clothing and sturdy shoes. Advise others of your destination
- Use flashlights — NOT lanterns, matches or candles — to examine buildings. Flammable gases may be inside
- Follow instructions of local authorities regarding the safety of drinking water. If in doubt, boil or purify water before drinking or call public health officials
- Avoid “sightseeing” in disaster areas. You may hamper rescue efforts or place yourself in danger