Disaster Week - Home Emergency

By: Weather Email
By: Weather Email

Interview with Red Cross

Disasters, or near disasters, seem to be in the news almost every day. In Kansas, we have had our share of storms that have produced tornadoes, flash flooding, and crippling ice storms. Less than a year ago, a tornado devastated the town of Greensburg, nearly wiping it off the map. Only a few days later, hours of torrential rainfall, swamped parts of Topeka, causing major flooding along Shunga Creek. And if that wasn't enough, an ice storm in December left some Kansans in the dark for over a week. So, how do we prepare ourselves for the next natural disaster?

Dana Wethington, Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas Capital Area Red Cross, recommends having several items on
hand in case of a disaster. "The items you will want to include to prepare for an ice storm(or other disaster) are much the same. Extra food, medications, flashlights, and a battery-powered radio. You
will want to include extra clothing and blankets" but Wethington says "some of us may be able to get by without a generator".

Preparing for flash flooding involves a completely different set of
challenges. Because you may have to leave your home with little notice. It is extremely important to keep up to date on the latest weather information and have a plan before the flooding begins.

Information from Department of Homeland Security

Neighborhoods and Apartments

A community working together during an emergency makes sense.
• Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.
• Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
• Decide who will check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
• Make back-up plans for children in case you can't get home in an emergency.
• Sharing plans and communicating in advance is a good strategy.


There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away, or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Plan how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.

Create an evacuation plan:

• Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
• If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
• Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
• If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to.
• Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
• Lock the door behind you.
• Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.

If time allows:

o Call or email the "out-of-state" contact in your family communications plan.
o Tell them where you are going.
o If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
o Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
o Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

Staying Put

Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside.
There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "sealing the room," is a matter of survival. Click here to view Shelter-In-Place diagram From Ready.Gov Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.
The process used to seal the room is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that requires preplanning.

To "Shelter in Place and Seal the Room"

• Bring your family and pets inside.
• Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
• Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
• Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
• Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
• Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
• Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
• Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
Learn how and when to turn off utilities:
If there is damage to your home or you are instructed to turn off your utilities:
• Locate the electric, gas and water shut-off valves.
• Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
• Teach family members how to turn off utilities.
• If you turn the gas off, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this yourself.

Recommended Items To Have In The Home

When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
-Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days,
-for drinking and sanitation
-Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
-Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
-Flashlight and extra batteries
-First aid kit
-Whistle to signal for help
-Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
-Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
-Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
-Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
-Local maps

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit

-Prescription medications and glasses
-Infant formula and diapers
-Pet food and extra water for your pet
-Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
-Cash or traveler's checks and change
-Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
-Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
-Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
-Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
-Fire Extinguisher
-Matches in a waterproof container
-Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
-Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
-Paper and pencil
-Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Most of this material is available on: Ready.Gov

Click Here To Learn More About The Kansas Capital Area Red Cross...

Click Here To Learn More About The National Red Cross Organization...

Click Here To Read the NWS Analysis of the Greensburg Tornado...

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