Disasters and Emergencies
At the end of the class you will be able to:
We live and work in a very complex world that is filled with possible disasters and emergencies. Some of these occur in our own homes, buildings and hospitals. For example, there may be a chemical spill, fire or loss of power in our own home or your workplace (hospital, office, nursing home). Others happen in the area near our homes, buildings and hospitals. For example, our area may be hit with a tornado, hurricane, flood or terror attack. We must be ready to act before a disaster occurs. We must have a plan in place and we must practice the plan so we are ready to act at all times. This course will teach you about some of the things you should do when you are faced with an internal or external disaster.
WHY SHOULD WE PLAN FOR DISASTERS?
We should plan because planning will help us to:
Disasters touch many, many people every year. Have a good plan that includes a disaster kit, a way to talk to loved ones, care for pets and a shelter that you can use if it is needed.
KINDS OF DISASTERS
There are several types of disasters. They are:
HOW TO BE READY
Listen to the news in your area and listen to those in the community. Always have a battery operated radio because you may not have electric when a disaster strikes.
Be ready to evacuate your workplace or home when you are told to. When you are told to leave the workplace or your home, do so right away. Do not wait. Take your emergency kit with you.
Always try to have a full tank of gas in your car, especially if a storm is expected. There may not be any gas after the storm or other disaster happens. Follow the signs that show you how to drive away from the problem to a safer place. Have a plan for someone else to come and get you if you do not drive.
Lock your doors and windows. Unplug all electrical things except the refrigerator and freezer unless a flood is expected. Turn off the main electric if a flood may happen.
It is very important to know what to do in your home, or your patient's home, and in your own workplace. Know the policies and procedures for your workplace and follow them.
Floods are very common in the United States. Some happen very quickly and others develop over a couple of days so people will get a warning about them. They occur most often in low areas near the water, areas near a dam and other areas where there are streams, rivers, oceans and bays.
Some flood terms are:
Flood Watch - flooding is possible. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or TV for information. Flash Flood Watch - flash flooding is possible. Be ready to go to higher ground. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or TV for information. Flood Warning - flooding will occur soon. Be ready to leave. Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or TV for information. Flash Flood Warning - a flash flood is happening. GO to higher ground immediately.
If you leave the home:
Do not walk or drive through water when you do not know how deep it is. Do not walk through rapidly moving water. It could knock you down and carry you away.
Tornadoes are very violent and dangerous. It looks like a quickly moving funnel shaped cloud. Its winds can be as strong as 300 miles per hour. Every state in our country is at some risk from them. Some can be seen in the distance, others pop up with no warning at all.
Some of the signs are:
Tornado Warning - a tornado has been seen by radar. Go to shelter immediately.
Tornado Watch - a tornado is possible. Watch the sky and listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or TV for information.
If there is a tornado:
Hurricanes can cause a lot of damage from winds, rain and floods. Winds can be more than 155 miles per hour and the storm surge and flooding can be more than 18 feet. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is a good example of the damage that a hurricane can do.
Hurricanes are grouped into these five categories:
Some hurricane terms are:
Tropical Depression - a storm with winds of 38 mph or less.
Tropical Storm - a storm with winds 39-73 mph
Hurricane - a storm with winds of 74 mph or more
Storm Surge - water pushed onto the land by the hurricane and its winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50-1000 miles wide.
Storm Tide - a combination of storm surge and the normal tide (i.e., a 15-foot storm surge combined with a 2-foot normal high tide over the average creates a 17-foot storm tide).
Hurricane Watch - a hurricane is possible in the area, usually within 36 hours. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or TV for information.
Hurricane Warning - a hurricane is expected in the area, usually within 24 hours.
The following things should be done to protect lives and property from a hurricane:
THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING
About 300 people are hurt and 80 people are killed every year in the United States with lightning. Some of the other dangers of thunderstorms, in addition to lighting, are:
Lightning may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall so be aware of what is going on around you. Go indoors for safety if you hear thunder within 30 seconds after seeing lightning.
Here are some things you should do if there is a thunderstorm.
Lightning is about to strike when you feel your hair stand on end. If this happens, get low to the ground. Put your hands over your head and ears and squat with your head between your knees so you are the smallest possible target for the lightning.
You must do these things when someone has been hit with lighting:
An earthquake occurs when the earth has quick and sudden movement and shaking. Many deaths, injuries and property damage can result when they occur in an area with a lot of people.
Here are some terms that you should know:
Aftershock - shaking of the earth after the main quake that is less severe
Epicenter - the place on the surface of the earth where the quake begins
Seismic Waves - the vibrations that travel away from the center for many miles sometimes
Magnitude - the severity of the earthquake. A 7.0 on the Richter Scale is a very strong earthquake.
Things to do during a quake:
A volcano is a hole in the surface of the earth that throws up pieces of melted rock, ash, gases and lava. Lava is a fire hazard because it is very hot. Most spread slowly so people can get out of the way.
Things to do:
About 25,000 people are hurt in fires every year and more than 4,000 people die each year as a result of a fire. Be prepared at all times for a fire. Fires start and spread very fast. There is little time to think and no time to gather up important items. The only things that you have time for is to get out and stay out.
Ways to prevent injuries from fires:
If your clothes catch on fire, you should:
To escape a fire, you must:
CHEMICAL AND HAZARDOUS MATERIAL DISASTERS
You should add the following supplies to your disaster kit:
You should listen to your local radio or TV stations to learn about the hazardous material problem. Follow the instructions that you are given. These materials can be solid, liquid or gas. They can be in the air. You cannot always smell or see them so do not be fooled into thinking that everything is fine if you cannot see or smell anything.
CHEMICALS IN THE HOME
All houses and workplaces are filled with chemicals, including cleaners, waxes, lawn fertilizers, etc.
The signs of chemical poisoning are:
Call 9-1-1 and/or the poison control (800) 222-1222 if you suspect chemical poisoning.
NUCLEAR POWER PLANT PROBLEMS
There are nuclear power plants in almost all states throughout the country. About 3 million Americans live less than 10 miles from a nuclear power plant. Accidents sometimes happen even though the government closely looks them at. Dangerous radiation can leak into the area around the plant when a plant problem occurs. People near it may be exposed to radiation, which can be very harmful.
Use the distance-shielding - time rule to decrease the risks of exposure to radiation:
Distance - The more distance between you and the radiation, the better. Evacuation and staying indoors with a sealed, closed house are examples of putting distance between you and the problem.
Shielding - Heavy, dense material between you and the radiation protects you.
Time - The longer you stay away the better.
Follow the instructions from your area, the radio or the TV.
Some terms that you want to know are:
Notification of Unusual Event - a small problem has happened but no radiation leak will occur. You do not have to do anything when this notification occurs.
Alert - small amounts of radiation can leak inside the plant. This will not affect you and no action is needed.
Site Area Emergency - sirens may be sounded because some radiation can leak outside of the plant into the area. Listen to your radio or television for safety information.
You may have to:
If you are exposed:
Terrorism is the use of violence and force against people and property. The World Trade Center was a terrible example of terrorism.
Terrorists do these things to make people afraid. Some of the things that they may do are:
Big cities, government buildings, airports and landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge, etc. are at the most at risk for terrorism. Chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological weapons can lead to death and very serious health problems especially when water and food are affected. Follow the orders of your government officials, the police and the fire departments.
Disasters and emergencies are few and far between. This does not mean, however, that you do not have to be prepared for one. We must always be ready to act and react when we are faced with a disaster or an emergency.
This class gave you some information about a large number of disasters and emergencies, but it is very important that you also study your workplace policies and procedures and act according to what they say.
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Federal Emergency Management
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Copyright © 2010 Alene Burke
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