"Be Prepared -
~A Christian Perspective about Y2K and Natural Disasters~
"A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge,
but the simple keep going and suffer for it."
This page has information on:
~~Information for this page is taken from the World Book Encyclopedia~~
Safety during emergencies
An emergency may result from a natural disaster, such as a flood, hurricane, or earthquake; or from a collision, fire, or explosion. Such tragedies can strike so suddenly that it is difficult to be prepared for them. However, you can lessen the risks if you know what to do during a flood, hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.
During a flood. Leave the flood area as soon as a flood warning is announced. Do not be caught in a low-lying place. Take food and clothing with you.
When you return after the flood, have all electric lights and appliances checked before using them. Boil all drinking water until health officials announce that the water supply is safe. If your automobile was submerged, have a mechanic check it for water in the brakes, power steering, and elsewhere.
During a hurricane. Keep your radio tuned to a news station after learning that a hurricane warning has been broadcast. Board up your windows or protect them with special storm shutters or tape. If you have a boat, anchor it securely or take it to a safe place. Store drinking water in clean bottles and jugs, and fill the bathtub with water for later use. Make sure your automobile gasoline tank is full because service stations may not be able to operate for several days after a hurricane. But do not store gasoline in cans or other containers in your car or home.
Stay home if the structure is sturdy and on high ground. Otherwise, move quickly to a designated hurricane shelter. Stay home or in the shelter until an all clear has been broadcast. After the storm, avoid loose or dangling electric power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
During a tornado. If your area lies in the path of an approaching tornado, seek shelter in an underground structure, such as a basement, subway station, or parking garage. Stay out of the upper stories of buildings and away from windows. If you are in a building that has no basement, go to the lowest floor and lie flat. Cover yourself with a rug or blanket for protection against flying glass and rubble.
If possible, open some windows and doors on the side of the building away from the approaching tornado. A tornado sucks up air when passing over a building, and the air pressure outside may drop so suddenly that the structure explodes outward. Opening windows and doors helps equalize the pressure.
If you are in a car, try to escape by driving at a right angle to the path of the tornado. If you cannot reach shelter or escape, lie in a ditch or other hollow place.
During an earthquake. If you are indoors when an earthquake occurs, take cover under a table or desk. Stay away from windows. If you are outside, move away from buildings, where you might be struck by falling bricks and other rubble. If you are in a car, stop immediately but stay in the vehicle.
NEW - 11/12/00 - Learn2 Prepare Your Kitchen for an Earthquake & Learn2 Prepare for an Earthquake
WHAT TO DO IN A DISASTER
~This check list outlines some basic measures to take when a disaster strikes.
1. Remain calm and patient.
2. Check for injuries and give first aid. Get help for anyone who is seriously injured.
3. Listen to a battery-powered radio for news and instructions, and evacuate if advised to do so. If you must evacuate, take some supplies with you--enough to last 72 hours, if possible. Take food (including baby food and formula, if appropriate), water, medicines, sleeping bag or other bedding, clothing, battery-powered radio and lights, and spare batteries. Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes.
4. Check for damage in your home:(a) Use a flashlight. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches if you suspect damage.(b) Check for fires, fire hazards, and other household hazards.(c) Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.(d) Shut off any other damaged utilities.(e) Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately.
5. Remember to:(a) Confine and secure your pets.(b) Check on your neighbors, especially anyone who is elderly or disabled.(c) Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.(d) Stay away from downed power lines.
Flood is a body of water that covers normally dry land. Most floods are harmful. They may destroy homes and other property and even carry off the topsoil, leaving the land barren. Sudden and violent floods, which leave people little time to prepare, may bring huge losses. Rivers, lakes, or seas may flood the land. River floods are more common, though lake and seacoast floods can be more serious.
Civil defense is a government program that provides guidance and assistance in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from public emergencies. Public emergencies may result from blizzards, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, explosions, and fires. Civil defense measures are designed to deal with immediate emergency conditions, protect the public, and restore vital services and facilities that have been destroyed or damaged by a disaster. Civil defense is also called emergency management or disaster services.
The first civil defense programs in the United States were developed in the first half of the 1900's. They were designed to protect the public from enemy attack in times of war. From the 1950's to the 1980's, civil defense focused primarily on measures for surviving nuclear attack. Today, the emphasis is on dealing with such hazards as natural disasters.
How civil defense is administered
In the United States, the federal, state, and local governments share responsibility for civil defense. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), created in 1979, manages the program at the national level. FEMA provides funding to state and local governments for civil defense personnel and for such emergency needs as warning systems, communications equipment, and emergency operating centers. Emergency operating centers are protected places where top officials can meet to direct activities in an emergency situation.
State and local civil defense organizations develop plans of action for emergencies. Every state has a civil defense director and assists the civil defense agencies of its cities and counties. Most cities and counties also have a civil defense director. This official coordinates emergency preparations made by the local government and by volunteer groups and businesses.
Civil defense in action
The first task of a civil defense agency in an emergency is to make sure the public is warned of danger and provided with instructions on how to avoid hazards. People may be able to protect themselves in one of two ways. They can (1) evacuate the area or (2) remain and take shelter. The civil defense agency works with local newspapers and radio and television stations to provide information to the public on what action to take. The agency also coordinates the efforts of other emergency workers, including rescue teams, fire fighters, police officers, public works employees, and providers of medical care.
Warning includes notification of the community's emergency services organizations as well as the general public when dangerous situations arise. An emergency services official decides which warning system to use.
One or more of the following methods may be used to warn the public:
(1) outdoor warning systems, including sirens, horns, whistles, and bells;
(2) announcements over radio and television stations that are part of the Emergency Broadcast System;
(3) mobile sirens of police and fire departments;
(4) door-to-door visits by emergency personnel;
and (5) telephone calls to schools and major employers.
Evacuation is the movement of people from a place of danger to a place of safety. Floods and hurricanes are the most common disasters that require evacuation. Unlike many disasters that strike suddenly, most floods and hurricanes can be predicted in time for people to leave the threatened area safely. People also may be asked to evacuate an area in the event of an accident involving hazardous materials, to protect them from toxic fumes, liquids, or smoke. People who are evacuated should go to the location designated by civil defense officials, using the route specified.
Shelter. Emergency shelters are usually in or near homes, schools, or places of work. These shelters provide temporary housing, food, clothing, and other essential needs for people who have been evacuated.
Emergency services. When a disaster strikes, the community's civil defense agency coordinates the response of emergency services--rescue operations, fire fighting, law enforcement, public works repair, and medical care. Government employees, often with the help of private organizations and volunteers, evacuate people and provide care for the injured and food and shelter for people who have had to leave their homes.
Recovery. Communities begin recovery
activities as soon as possible after an emergency. Workers clear
away debris, and utility companies restore telephone, water, gas,
and electrical services. Welfare organizations help disaster
victims who have been left homeless. Some communities provide
counseling for both victims and emergency personnel who suffer
psychological damage as a result of a disaster.
In the event of an especially destructive flood, hurricane, winter storm, or other disaster, the President of the United States may declare one or more cities or counties to be a disaster area. Such a declaration makes the area eligible to receive funds and other assistance from the federal government to help deal with the disaster. FEMA coordinates these federal relief efforts.
Beginnings. From 1916 to 1918, during World War I, a federal agency called the Council of National Defense directed the U.S. civil defense program. From 1941 to 1945, during World War II, the Office of Civilian Defense coordinated the nation's civil defense activities. The Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950 established the foundation of the country's present civil defense system.
The Cold War. From 1950 to the 1980's, the focus of the civil defense program was preparedness for nuclear attack. In 1945, during World War II, the United States had become the first country to use nuclear weapons. American planes dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb.
By the late 1940's, tension between the Soviet Union and the United States led to a bitter struggle known as the Cold War. The Cold War was characterized by mutual distrust and suspicion between the two countries. At times, these conditions seemed to increase the likelihood of a nuclear war.
The fallout shelter program. In 1961, the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense Mobilization began a public fallout shelter program. Its purpose was to identify--and stock with supplies--buildings and underground areas where people would be protected from the fallout particles of a nuclear explosion. Fallout gives off radiation that can cause illness and death. Buildings made of such heavy materials as brick, concrete, or stone can block most of the radiation.
The federal government began to designate buildings and underground areas as fallout shelters. Many public shelters were set up in the basements of apartment and office buildings, factories, schools, and other large structures, or in windowless central areas in buildings aboveground. Federal funding for stocking fallout shelters was discontinued in the late 1960's.
In 1979, the newly created Federal Emergency Management Agency assumed responsibility for managing the federal government's fallout shelter program. Until the early 1980's, FEMA was responsible for identifying buildings to be used as shelters. In the early 1980's, FEMA turned over this responsibility to the states but continued to fund the identification program.
Recent developments. During the late 1980's, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union began to improve dramatically. As the threat of nuclear war diminished, FEMA reduced the emphasis on preparedness for nuclear attack. Instead, the agency concentrated on coping with natural disasters and other similar hazards. In 1991, the Soviet Union broke up into a number of independent states. The following year, FEMA discontinued its funding of the fallout shelter identification program.
Civil defense in other countries
In Canada, a federal agency called Emergency Preparedness Canada administers civil defense. It coordinates emergency planning by all federal agencies and departments. In addition, it helps the nation's cities, provinces, and territories plan for major emergencies. Emergency Preparedness Canada is part of Canada's Department of National Defence. Civil defense programs are also conducted by the governments of many other countries, including Denmark, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
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