Emergency Preparedness

What You Should Know About Emergency Preparedness

What you can do to be prepared

Natural Disasters

Events that may cause a disaster and create an emergency can occur without warning. Earthquakes, floods, fire, hurricanes, thunderstorms, winter storms, tornadoes, volcanoes, landslides and tsunamis disrupt the lives of thousands of people each year. If a natural disaster occurs in our area, local responders, public health and disaster relief organizations will try to help you. However, they may not be able to reach you immediately. You should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that can occur here.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers publications to help prepare for emergencies. To order the document, call (800) 480-2520 or visit FEMA's web site.


Because terrorism comes in many forms it is important to be prepared. You can:

  • Learn about terrorism
  • Be alert to suspicious situations
  • Be prepared in case of an attack

There are generally four forms of terrorism:

  • Conventional, such as bombings
  • Chemical- Use of poison
  • Biological - Use of a virus or other organism to cause serious illness
  • Radiological - Use of radioactive materials to harm people.

Clues That May Signal A Bioterrorism Attack

  • Large numbers of ill persons with a similar disease or syndromes
  • An increase in unexplained disease or death
  • Disease with an unusual geographic or seasonal distribution
  • Illness that is unusual for a given population or age group. (e.g., outbreak of chickenpox-like rash in adults)
  • Many ill persons seeking treatment about the same time

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Public Health Emergencies

Q: What is a public health emergency?

A: A “public health emergency” is an occurrence or imminent threat or an illness or health condition that:

Image: Help!1) Is believed to be caused by any of the following:

  • bioterrorism;
  • the appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated infectious agent or biological toxin;
  • a natural disaster;
  • a chemical attack or accidental release; or
  • a nuclear attack or accident; and

2) Poses a high probability of any of the following harms:

  • a large number of deaths in the affected population;
  • a large number of serious or long-term disabilities in the affected population; or a widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent that poses a significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the affected population (Model State Emergency Health Powers Act, 2001).

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What You Can Do To Be Prepared

Basic Preparedness Tips

Create an emergency communications plan Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should disaster occur.
Establish a meeting place Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated.
Assemble a disaster supplies kit Your kit should contain food, water and supplies for at least 3 days. Your kit should also include first aid supplies. The kit should be kept in a designated place and should be ready to “grab and go” in case you have to evacuate your home.
Know your school's disaster/emergency plan All schools have a disaster/emergency plan that is strictly followed. Ask for a copy of the school's plan for your records. Discuss it with your children.

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If Disaster Strikes

  1. Be calm and patient.
  2. Follow the advice of local emergency officials and local resources.
  3. Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.
  4. Shut off damaged utilities.
  5. Call your family contact.
  6. Confine or secure your pets.
  7. If possible, check on neighbors, especially those living alone, elderly or disabled.
  8. Prepare for possible evacuation.
  9. Follow Medical Safety Tips

Medical Safety Tips

  • Make sure you and your family is current on your immunizations, especially tetanus.
  • If you take prescriptive medications, carry them with you or have extra in your emergency kit.

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Basic Tips for:

Three Ways To Purify Water

Boiling Bring the water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes.  Let cool before drinking.
Disinfect You can use household liquid bleach (regular household bleach contains 5.25% sodium chloride) to kill microorganisms. Do not use scented, color-safe or bleaches with added cleaners.  Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.  If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.  The only agent used to purify water should be household liquid bleach. 
Distillation Fill a pot halfway with water.  Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hand right side up when the lid is upside-down. Make sure the cup is not dangling in the water.  Boil the water for 20 minutes.  The water that drips from the lid to the cup is distilled.

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Ways to Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering in a health disaster WAresponds may be for you. Click here to check out the Ready.gov website and ways you can help. You can also contact the health district for more information.

Additional Resources

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