The terrorist attacks against the United States have left each one of us asking the question, “How can our families and our community better prepare in the case of an emergency?”
The City of Coweta Emergency Preparedness Guide was written for Coweta residents by the Coweta Public Works Department and will help you and your family to better prepare for all types of emergencies ranging from tornadoes to bio-terrorism events. It offers advice on how to make an emergency plan, put together a preparedness kit, and gives basic information on what to do before, during, and after any public emergency.
Although we cannot always prevent emergencies, there are many things we can do to be better prepared as individuals, families, and as a community. I ask that all Coweta residents take a moment and read this guide. I also encourage you to assist others, such as senior citizens and others in need, to help them to be better prepared for an emergency. I hope you find this Emergency Preparedness Guide helpful.
This brochure contains some basic information about disasters and tips on emergency preparedness. It will help you and your families to make an Emergency Plan, put together an Emergency Kit, and learn what to do before, during, and after a disaster.
General Rules of Thumb
If an emergency or disaster happens, there are a few things you should do right away:
Try not to panic. Take time to understand what has happened and to think about what you can do to stay safe or avoid worse injury.
Check the scene
Pay attention to your surroundings to see whether you are safe where you are, and whether anyone around you needs help. If you think you are in danger, get to a safer place as soon as you can.
Give and get help
If you or others are hurt or still in danger call 911 and explain what has happened, where you are, what injuries people have, and whether the danger still exists.
Listen for emergency announcements
Local radio stations and television stations will give emergency updates and instructions and will be your best source of information.
Be prepared to evacuate if told to by local authorities
If told to leave your home or work, do so right away, follow exact evacuation routes, and go to the specified shelter or safe area. If you can, bring your Emergency Kit with you, and get in touch with your family’s emergency contact person as soon as you can to let them know how and where you are.
An emergency often happens without warning, leaving little or no time for you and your family to plan what to do next. So it is important for you to learn about the things you can do to be ready before an emergency happens. Two key things you can do are to make an Emergency Plan and put together an Emergency Kit.
Talk with your family about why and how you need to prepare for disaster emergencies and discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen and what to do in each case.
Preparing an Emergency Kit
Preparing an Emergency kit ahead of time can save you time in case you must leave home quickly or go without power or water for a while. Put your Kit together with items you may need after a disaster, and if you can, try to keep enough supplies on hand to meet your needs for at least three days. Store them in sturdy, waterproof, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or clean, covered trash cans.
Things you might try to include or have on hand are:
When a Disaster or Emergency Happens
The next section will give you some tips on how to know when there is an emergency, information about different types of disasters that could happen in the Coweta area and advice on how you can stay safe if and when they do.
How You Will Know When a Disaster Happens
There are different ways that you will find out that an emergency or disaster is happening. Weather warnings will usually be given on television and radio. A “severe weather watch” means that severe weather might develop. A “severe weather warning” means that severe weather has already developed, and that you should prepare to seek shelter right away.
In other situations, a siren could sound. Emergency workers may drive by and give instructions over a loudspeaker, or they might even come to your door. In the meantime, you should listen to radio or television for further emergency information.
What to Do for Different Types of Disasters
Floods can occur quickly and can be dangerous because of fast moving waters. If there is a flood warning or you believe a flood will happen soon:
All thunderstorms produce lightning that can cause death or serious injury. Lightning can strike from up to 5 to 10 miles away, even if it is not raining or is sunny where you are. If there is a thunderstorm warning, or if you see or hear a storm coming in the distance, follow these steps:
Tornadoes produce very high winds in funnel-shaped clouds that can lift and move heavy objects such as buildings and cars. They can move extremely fast and do a lot of damage to people and property. If there is a tornado warning, or if you see a tornado coming or hear a tornado siren, follow these steps:
Winter storms can be dangerous because they leave people stranded in their homes or cars and sometimes without power. If there is a winter storm warning, you believe a storm is headed your way, or you are already stranded by one:
Fires can cause death and serious injury to people because of burns and the breathing in of smoke. Explosions may occur on their own or as part of a larger fire, and can also do a lot of damage to people and property. If you hear a fire alarm or smoke detector, see a fire, or see or smell smoke, follow these steps:
Dangerous amounts of chemicals can be released into the environment from industrial accidents, or on purpose, as happened in Japan when nerve gas was released in the subway system. These events can cause fires or explosions, and can be very poisonous to people and animals.
Bio-terrorism involves the deliberate use of harmful viruses and bacteria to make people sick. We have seen this with anthrax in the mail. While these types of events are still rare, they can be very dangerous. Although we cannot always prevent them from happening, we can help by reporting strange activity to local officials. If you get news that bio-terrorism has taken place where you live or work, or strongly suspect that it has, you should follow these steps:
What to Do Until Help Arrives
If someone with you is sick or hurt, follow these basic first aid steps by using the Check-Call-Care procedure:
Reduce any care risks
The risk of getting a disease while giving first aid is rare. However, to lower the risk more:
Basic Survival Tips If Your Power Goes Out
Remain calm, call Public Service Company (PSO) to report the power outage, and follow these steps:
If Food Supplies Are Low
Healthy people can survive for a long time on half of what they would usually eat, and without any food at all for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women. Follow these tips if your food supply is limited during an emergency:
Staying Healthy and Safe After a Disaster
Coping with Trauma
Recovery continues even days or months after a disaster as you and your family face the emotional and psychological effects of the event. Reactions vary from person to person, but may include: restless sleep or nightmares; anger, fear, or wanting revenge; lack of emotion; needing to keep active; loss of appetite; weight loss or gain; headaches; and mood swings.
All of these are normal reactions to stressful events. It is important to let yourself and others react in their own way. It may be helpful to:
If these strategies are not helping to lower your stress, or you find that you or your family members are using drugs/alcohol or resorting to other unhealthy behaviors in order to cope, you may wish to seek outside or professional help.
Ways You Can Help Others
To help you, your family, or emergency workers get through a disaster more quickly and safely call 911 or the operator only for a possible life-threatening emergency. Telephone lines are very busy in disaster situations, and they need to be kept clear for emergency calls to get through.