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Disaster Preparation
A wide range of natural disasters occurs within the United States every year. Natural disasters can have a devastating effect on you and your home. The Charleston area faces the genuine risk of fire, flooding, hurricanes, lightning, high winds, and earthquakes. Every family needs to be ready and know what to do before a disaster happens.

  • Talk about disasters with your family. Be prepared, not scared.
  • Create a family disaster plan.
  • Be prepared to stay or go in an emergency.
  • Listen to the news.
  • Be prepared by having flashlights and batteries available in your home. IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY, DO NOT USE CANDLES TO LIGHT YOUR HOME. One-third of the people killed in candle fires were using them for light when there was no power.
  • Have the flashlights accessible in the kitchen and bedroom.
  • You should also carry a flashlight in your car and a small light on your person.

    GENERAL PREPAREDNESS

    In a disaster, local officials and relief workers cannot reach everyone immediately. Help may not arrive for hours or days. You need to be prepared ahead of time because you won't have time to shop or search for the supplies you will need when a disaster strikes.

    Most disasters are natural disasters, the result of some force of nature, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Some natural disasters can be predicted, such as hurricanes and severe winter storms, while others, such as tornadoes and earthquakes, happen with little or no warning.

    Some disasters are the cause of human actions, intentional or unintentional. A disaster plan will help with safety, security, and comfort. Regardless of the type disaster, there are things you can do to prepare. Create a family disaster plan. Remember to make it simple so everyone can remember the details.
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation. When told by officials, go immediately to a shelter as instructed or to the home of a family friend or relative who lives out of the area. Find out about your local shelters beforehand.
  • Know evacuation routes. Pre-establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.
  • Family members can become separated during an emergency. Be prepared by creating a plan for how to reach one another. Establish an out-of-area contact (such as a relative or family friend) who can coordinate family members' locations and information should you become separated. Make sure children learn the phone numbers and addresses, and know the emergency plans.
  • Quiz children every six months so they remember what to do, where to go, and whom to call in an emergency.
  • Decide how to take care of pets. Pets are not allowed in places where food is served—so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have go to a shelter.
  • Post emergency phone numbers (fire, police, ambulance) by the phone.
  • Assemble a family disaster supplies kit, and keep a smaller one in the trunk of your vehicle.

    GENERAL SAFETY TIPS:
  • Damaged or downed utility lines can present a fire and life safety hazard. Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged. This includes cable TV feeds.
  • Water damaged appliances and utilities can be electrically charged.
  • Leaking gas lines, damaged or leaking gas propane containers, and leaking vehicle gas tanks may explode or ignite.
  • Generators that are not properly used and maintained can be hazardous.
  • Look for combustible liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid, and paint thinner that may have spilled. Thoroughly clean the spill and place containers in a well-ventilated area.
  • If your home has sustained flood or water damage, and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box, turn off the power.
  • Have a licensed electrician check your home for damage.
  • Smell and listen for leaky gas connections. If you believe there is a gas leak, immediately leave the house and leave the door(s) open.
  • Never strike a match. Any size flame can spark an explosion.
  • Before turning the gas back on, have the gas system checked by a professional.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines when using generators.
  • Use a generator or other fuel-powered machines outside the home. CO fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you indoors.
  • Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines. The reverse flow of electricity or "back feed" can electrocute an unsuspecting utility worker.
  • Do not use the kitchen oven range to heat your home. In addition to being a fire hazard, it can be a source of toxic fumes.
  • Alternative heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away. Make sure your alternative heaters have "tip switches." These are designed to automatically turn off the heater in the event they tip over.
  • Only use the type of fuel recommended by the manufacturer and follow suggested guidelines.
  • Never refill a space heater while it is operating or still hot. Refuel heaters only outdoors.
  • Make sure wood stoves are properly installed, and at least three feet away from combustible materials. Ensure they have the proper floor support and adequate ventilation.
  • Be careful when using candles. Keep the flame away from combustible objects and out of the reach of children.
  • Some smoke alarms may be dependent on your home’s electrical service and could be inoperative during a power outage. Check to see if your smoke alarm uses a back-up battery and install a new battery at least once a year.
  • If there is a fire hydrant near your home, keep it clear of debris for easy access by the fire department.

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