Copyright 2005-2019 Ken
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What you need
- Isolation is BAD BAD BAD! Your
priority is to plug into your network of family, friends, and
neighbors. Start helping each other. The one who helps others the most
- Do not be selfish. Work hard to
help others. Share your stuff. People who work together do all right.
People perceived as selfish don't get help when they need it.
people freeze up
Freezing takes many forms:
- Brain fog (inability to think of the right thing to do; easy
things become hard)
- Stand there doing nothing (the classic freeze)
- Spend time doing something unimportant (like looking for a purse
while the ship sinks)
- Priority inversion (running back into a burning house for a
- Denial (taking photos in the danger zone)
- Not using resources (hampered by a phone taking up one hand, and
not thinking to call for help)
- Fighting over insignificant things (this is really fighting over
- Tunnel vision (focusing on one thing, not on what needs to be
If it is a stressful situation,
unfreeze the people around you. Tell them what they are doing and what
they need to do.
Talk about freezing with your family before the disaster. If people
know that almost everybody freezes ahead of time, and that they should
unfreeze each other, they will be more able to listen.
Freezing is contagious. One person
can get everyone else caught up in freeze behavior, like fanning out to
look for the cat while the wildfire approaches. Many people respond to
stress by trying to take charge. Unless they know about freezing, they
may violently resist changing what they are doing.
- Some disasters can knock phones off the hook. Check the phones
and hang them all back up. A phone off the hook doesn't just tie up
your phone, it ties up a telephone line in the system.
- Start preparing to evacuate if
you think it might be necessary.
- Stay off the roads unless
absolutely necessary. They will be clogged with other cars who aren't
going anywhere. Try to keep the roads open for emergency vehicles.
- Knock on the neighbors doors,
make sure they are OK, and tell them all to stay off the phone. After a
disaster, the phones are ONLY for distress calls.
- The Red Cross has a "Safe & Well" web site where you can
register your status for your out-of-area loved ones who can't reach
- Don't enter an unstable building. If the structure looks crooked
or the doors are stuck, DO NOT GO IN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! It is
waiting for a victim to collapse suddenly upon. Wait and have it
checked by the fire department.
- Check the house & garage
IMMEDIATELY after an earthquake, windstorm, or anything else that can
house. Check for fire, shorts, and gas leaks. Do not flip any switches
or plug/unplug anything until you check for gas leaks (switches
make a small spark, so do plugs). If you need light to check for gas
leaks, use a
lightstick or a flashlight that runs on a single 1.5V
battery (it takes 2 volts to make a spark). Turn multi-cell
flashlights on & off outside.
- If you smell gas or think there is a gas leak, turn the gas off
and stay out of the building.
- Expect to step on nails and broken glass. Wear shoes that will
protect you. Over a third of all post-disaster injuries are from this.
After a disaster you need to be able to walk, fix your house, and not
be waiting in long lines at hospitals
- Most disaster-related injury comes from preparation and cleanup.
People are rushed
and stressed, so they fall off ladders and hurt themselves with tools.
Some of these injuries are grievous. So keep reminding everyone to be
careful and not rush. Safety is the most important part of preparing or
- If you do get injured, treat it
immediately. See a doctor, clinic, or emergency room if possible. This
isn't the time to ignore an injury; take it more seriously than you
- Someone needs to watch the
small children. The can become alarmed by anxiousness or activity, and
do unpredictable or time-consuming things. Drop off the children with
neighboring parents for a short time if necessary, but only if
necessary (it gets them out of the way so you can handle the emergency,
but may increase their anxiety for the long run).
- Pace yourself physically and
emotionally. It is way to easy to push yourself too hard, focus too
much on one thing, or become emotional. You can make some very costly
mistakes if you do. Little mistakes can cascade into big problems at a
time like this.
- If trouble is on the way or
just happened, don't
forget that you can get almost anything with next day delivery. This
can save you critical time running to stores when you should be
preparing or repairing. This is a good way to get things the local
stores are sold out of.
- The hardware stores will sell out of
critical items almost immediately if an area is affected. Only buy what
you need if everyone else will need it, too.
- Dilute bleach 10-1 for
- If buildings are wrecked and
dust is in the air, wear a respirator (a dust mask with two strings).
There may be dangerous asbestos in the dust and this will help protect
you. Go to http://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/natural-disasters/
for post-exposure information.
- Photograph damage for insurance.
- There are many organizations who would like to help you get back
on your feet. The best way to contact them is through a local church,
Office of Emergency Services, or Red Cross chapter. You can even try
contacting them directly, you might get lucky (an agency list is at http://www.disastercenter.com/agency.htm).
- Stay off the phones! Nobody can
get through to 911 because everyone responds to an emergency by calling
their family & friends to talk about it. When people call, tell
them to stay off the phones.
- Make sure the phones have not
been shaken off the hook. Those phones tie up the lines.
- Do not hang up if there is no
dial tone, wait for one. You have to start waiting all over again if
you hang up.
- If you can't get a dial tone,
unplug all telephones from the wall and from power. Try again with a
single phone. If that doesn't work, try a second.
- Pay phones are the most likely
phones to work after a disaster.
- The most reliable telephone is an old rotary dialer. Note that
modern phone lines may give them enough current to operate the ringer.
VIOP systems do not support rotary.
- Some modern phones won't operate when the power is off. This is
often true of cordless phone systems (the handsets are fine but the
main base station needs power). Cell phones can't be recharged without
power. Make sure you can make calls without power.
- Text messages are more likely
to get through than a cell phone call. Try to text even if you can't
make a call, it might get through.
- Email and the Internet is
remarkably robust. It can work even when there are telephone problems.
- Some government agencies have
portable cell towers. They might not be in place for days, and they
won't be able to handle the volume of calls, but they will eventually
be in place to deliver text messages.
- Limit non-emergency cell calls
to conserve battery power and free-up wireless networks for emergency
- Preserve cell phone battery
you can't recharge. Establish "on-air" times, and only turn the phone
on to receive calls at those times. Turn off background applications.
- If you know the electricity may
go out in advance, recharge everything and buy some batteries.
- Unplug your electronics if the
power might be affected. Wind storms, electrical storms, and floods
affect the power. Power line problems can damage your electronics.
- Be prepared to shut off the
gas, water, or electricity if you need to. Do not shut off the gas
unless necessary, because only the gas company can safely turn it back
on. This could take a month if they are busy.
- Don't turn the gas on yourself.
Air in the pipes mixed with gas turns your pipes into pipe bombs. The
explosion could severely damage your house.
- Do not open the refrigerator or
freezer unless necessary if the power is out. Keep the cold in. Tape
the door shut right away so nobody forgets. An unopened half-full
freezer keeps food safe to refreeze for about a day, a full freezer
lasts about 2 days. Cooking when this time is up can save food. Food
with ice crystals can be refrozen.
- Buying ice converts a
refrigerator into an icebox to preserve food. Dry ice keeps the food in
a freezer frozen.
- If your house may get flooded, turn the power off quick. Water
can create a short that starts an electrical fire that burns your house
to the waterline. Messing with the electrical panel while standing in
water is a bad idea, so turn off the power when flooding threatens.
- If your house may get flooded, get those power strips off the
floor. Make sure you find them all.
- Floodwater usually contains
sewage. Treat floodwater like it came right out of the toilet. Since
the sewer lines and storm drains are connected, it probably did.
- If there is flooding, warn
children to stay away from drains, culverts, ditches, and floodwater.
Places that were safe before can be really dangerous in a flood.
- Floodwater renders food, pots,
and dishes unsafe. Wash thoroughly and then disinfect for 15 minutes by
bleach disinfectant solution or boiling.
- In case of flood, assume the
tap water is contaminated until tested.
- If you touch something that
touched floodwater, and later eat before washing your hands, you may
get violently ill.
- Pump the water out of the basement as soon as possible.
Shovel the mud out, and hose the mud off of everything. Shop-vac out
the last of the water. Use bleach disinfectant solution on everything
that will take it (1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water). Then open the
windows and install fans to dry everything out.
- Do not drive through water.
Just 3 inches of water can stall an engine and less than 12 inches can
float the car (this is a bad thing). Most Americans who die in floods
do so in their car (unverified).
- If you know the water may go
out or become contaminated in advance, fill the bathtub with cold water
and turn off the cold-water valve going into the hot water tank. Both
hold a large
volume of water.
- If you drain the water heater
for potable water, be sure to turn it off. Running it empty can ruin it.
- Some disasters can affect the
water supply. These include water outages, floods, and strong
earthquakes. Turn off your water main to prevent contaminated water
from entering your pipes.
- Do not use the toilet if there
is no water. Tape the lid down right away so nobody forgets. Dig a hole
and rig a privacy tarp. Digging a hole is a problem in cities, so line
a wastebasket with plastic garbage bags, tie it after use, and put it
garbage outside. Use a bucket to fetch pool, hot tub, or creek water if
someone uses the
- Improvised sanitation bag: Line a plastic grocery bag with
newspaper, and line that with another grocery bag. Here is an article
about what to do: http://www.tacticalintelligence.net/blog/survival-sanitation-how-to-deal-with-human-waste.htm
- Use 1/4 teaspoon of unscented
bleach to sterilize a gallon of drinking water. Mix & wait 30
minutes. Add 6 more drops & wait again if you cannot smell the
bleach. The fragrance in some scented bleaches is poisonous.
- If the tap water is not safe,
prepare bleach disinfectant solution for washing.
- If you must use creekwater,
filter it through 2 coffee filters before sterilizing with bleach.
- If you touch something that
touched floodwater, and later eat before washing your hands, you may
get violently ill.
- Some water sources should never
be used for drinking. Never drink from automobile radiators, waterbeds,
- Pools, spas and hot tubs are a
good source of wash water.
- Discard food exposed to smoke
or firefighting chemicals. Scrub pots, dishes, etc, and then use bleach
- Do not use sources of fire you
are not experienced with, especially oil lamps. A disaster is much
harder to deal with after burning oil goes everywhere.
- Resist using candles in most
situations. They can tip over and start fires. Lit candles are
irresistible to children, who might burn the place down.
- Hospitals cannot handle
disasters that produce lots of injuries. Do not waste time going to the
hospital unless there is no other way to save a life. They probably
have one emergency room bed per 20,000 residents. If there are more
half a dozen emergency patients they expect to send them to nearby
- Do not try to "help" animals. A
frightened small animal can tear you up.
- Someone trying to help a small
animal sounds like this: "Oh the poor little thing! He needs help! I'll
help you little fellow. AAAAAHHH! GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF! I sure wish I
could get seen at a hospital!"
- Do not use power tools you are
not experienced with, especially chain saws. Wait for someone
- Disasters displace snakes &
rodents. Expect this and be careful.
- Fires and earthquakes cause big
shards of broken glass to fall from upper floors like knives. If you
run outside, get away from multi-storey structures.
- Fires and earthquakes can
damage buildings. Structural damage may not be obvious. Don't get too
close to potentially damaged buildings, part of one can fall on you.
- In a chemical spill, turn off
the heater, air conditioner, bathroom fans, and all other fans that
suck in outside air. Retreat to one room of the house and seal the
cracks around the doors and windows with wide tape. Put towels along
the bottom of the doors, too.
- If law and order has broken
down and the police are occupied, all women and girls should stay in
doors and out of sight. It is shameful that things are this way now.
- Major hotel chains have
generators and emergency systems. They probably have hot showers, phone
service, and internet as well.
- Local news radio stations are a
good source of local information. People call in with vital information
about coping with the situation in the days to follow.
- Churches are an excellent
resource after trouble. Many have prior arrangements with disaster
management agencies. Even if they don't, people will show up there to
talk about what they went through and what worked. Whatever the problem
is, the closest church may yield the best solution.
- To reduce long-term trauma for
small children: keep the family together, involve them in getting
things put back together, let them talk about it without brushing them
off, resume old routines, give them special privileges while they are
going through it, and give them control over some things.
- Go to this page for tips on
emotional recovery: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/residential-fire.aspx
Keep this list taped to
the inside of
a cabinet or closet door so you can find it in an emergency.