WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Picking up where last week’s Skywrighter article left off, which introduced National Preparedness Month and provided information and resources for developing an emergency plan and assembling an emergency supply kit, this week’s emphasis is on life-saving and practical skills that could make a big difference in the event of a disaster.
Learn first aid and CPR. Life threatening emergencies may happen fast, and responders are not always nearby. Seek out a local chapter of the American Red Cross for information concerning Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), first aid, or other emergency preparedness courses.
Learn fire safety. Contact your local fire department for information on training in your area concerning fire extinguishers and general fire safety such as developing a fire escape plan. As the National Fire Protection Association states, fire extinguishers are one response element of a fire response plan, but the primary element is safe escape.
Install detectors and alarms. Put smoke, carbon monoxide, and natural gas alarms on every level of your home and close to bedrooms. For individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf, get options with flashing lights or vibrating signals. Ensure they work by testing them monthly.
Be able to locate and shut off valves. In the event of a disaster, natural gas leaks could lead to fires or explosions. Ensure that everyone in a household knows the proper shut-off procedure for the gas meter in your home. Contact your local gas company for any special guidance, and ensure that only a qualified professional turns the gas back on, if turned off for any reason.
Similarly, household members should also know the procedures and location of the water shut-off valve in your home. Cracked lines could lead to polluted water supply, so it may be wise to shut off the local water supply until local authorities say it is safe to drink.
Turn off electricity. Teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity, as sparks have potential to ignite natural gas leaks. Always shut off individual circuit breakers prior to shutting off the main circuit. If unsure, contact your local electric company.
Know evacuation routes. Follow recommended evacuation routes and do not attempt to take shortcuts, as they may be blocked. If possible, leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather and always be alert for road hazards such as downed power lines or flooded roads. Take pets with you but understand that not all shelters accept pets.
For more information on preparedness, visit www.Ready.gov the Air Force’s Be Ready webpage at www.BeReady.af.mil. In addition, contact your local Unit Emergency Management Representative or the Wright-Patterson AFB Emergency Management Office.