April 2018 Preparedness Checklist: Stay or Go?

April 2018 Preparedness Checklist: Stay or Go?

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From our Disaster Preparedness Program coordinator Sheryl Gerety (sheryl.gerety@gmail.com): a monthly, seasonally appropriate checklist page to help us tackle preparing for a disaster in manageable steps.

What to do in April:
Identify the resources for evaluating if evacuation is necessary.


Alerts for possible floods, wildfires, mud flows, hurricanes, tornadoes: The first level of warning for weather situations is alerts. Some sources of these alerts are:

  • radio and TV emergency alert system
  • local government phone and text systems
  • NOAA radio, weather.com and other meteorological sites
  • Tornadoes, especially the larger, more powerful (Fugita 3-5) are rare in our area. The website https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes sets out procedures for responding to the notification that you may be in the path of travel.

Hazardous spills with release of toxic gases or debris: Monitor public announcements; be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

  • Acquire a stock of 2.4 mil plastic sheeting and rolls of duct tape to seal windows and doors
  • Bring everyone inside
  • Your goal is to stop air exchange from the outdoors

Resources: How to stop air exchange and seal off the house as well as one interior room https://www.ready.gov/shelter


House and structural fires are the disaster we are most likely to experience. It takes less than three (3) minutes for a newer home to be engulfed in flames. In almost every instance we should GO.

  • Install smoke alarms and CO2 detectors
  • Plan a fire escape route
  • Rehearse it with your household twice a year
  • Verbally locate all household members who should be moving through their rehearsed escape routes, gathering infants
  • Do not stop for precious papers or mementos.
  • Do not try to use a fire extinguisher
  • Close doors behind you to serve as fire breaks
  • Call the fire department from outside the building
  • Reunite at your rehearsed location
  • Restrain pets once outside building — they usually run back inside the burning structure

What we are reading:
House Fire: House Fires Burn Much Faster Than They Used To — Here’s How To Survive and Anarchy at Sea (a study in how we usually behave in a life threatening emergency even though we may know better)

Mandatory or Voluntary Evacuation Orders: Floods, wildfires, mud flows, hurricanes
The ability to issue these mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders is the result of much improved weather, hydrological and fire science. Events can move quickly as in the 2017 wildfires and landslides. To be prepared:

  • Subscribe to any alert systems your location provides
  • Maintain 1/2 tank of gasoline in any and all personal vehicles
  • Develop a household plan for evacuation scenarios including means of transportation
  • Provide copies of your family’s evacuation/emergency agreements to schools
  • Maintain crates for all pets
  • Identify shelter locations or safe locations beyond the range of event
  • Gather go bags for your household
  • Meet members from school and work as your emergency agreements describe

How to build a kit https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
How to plan for evacuations https://www.ready.gov/evacuating-yourself-and-your-family
How to locate a shelter and guidelines for staying put https://www.ready.gov/shelter