Disasters come in all sorts and sizes. There is no one size fits all when it comes to disasters. Everyone will be affected differently, yet will experience the same disaster. Preparedness is very much a personal endeavor because of this. It is important to know what can happen in your area and what protective actions you should take during different types of emergencies. Below is a list of various events that might be experienced. Read through all the events and protective actions even if you think those kinds of things don’t happen locally, remember that you travel to different areas that might have different types of events. It is always better to know what to expect.
Part 1- Know What Could Happen
Know which the types of disasters that may affect your family: (Don’t forget to think about the disasters you might encounter as you travel)
- -Structural Failures
- Hazardous Weather
- -Winter Storms
- -Windstorms & Tornados
- -Thunderstorms & Lightning
- -Extreme Heat/Drought
- -Home Fire
- -Wildland Fire
Human Caused or Technological Disasters
- Utility Failures
- -Gas Leaks
- -Water & Sewer
- Hazardous Materials
- -Household Chemical Emergencies
- -Hazardous Materials Incidents
- -Radiation Emergency
- -Active Shooter
- -Cyber Safety
- -Chemical Attack
- -Biological Attack
- Transportation Failures
- Public Health Threats
- -Infectious Diseases
- Infrastructure Failure
- Utility Failures
Part 2- Know how to communicate with family and others
A communications plan with your neighbors and local leaders is also part of being informed.
Sign up to be notified of weather events, major emergencies, and active county events.
Know and understand the different ways that authorities will communicate information to the public through the warning system and the Emergency Broadcast System.
Be familiar with warning systems
Local Warning Systems
- Tooele Alerts
- Social Media (Tooele Emergency Management Facebook and Twitter)
- Highway Message Boards
- Route Alerting through Police and EMS
- Telephone calling trees and neighborhood communications
Regional Warning Systems
- Television and Radio Stations KSL 5 and KSL 1160 AM and 102.5 FM
- Tone Alert Radios (National Weather Service
- 511 Local Road Conditions Information
Part 3- Know what protective actions to take before, during, and after an emergency
Several types of disasters may force you to evacuate your home. If you are told to evacuate, take the following steps:
- Immediately gather family members and neighbors needing assistance.
- Grab emergency supplies kits, medications, and important documents.
- Get pets and their kits.
- Lock your house and leave in private vehicle.
- Listen and obey authorities through messaging from TooeleAlerts and other notification systems. Tune car radio to EAS station, KSL 1160 AM or KSL 102.7 FM.
- Follow directions and proceed to a safe area.
- Expect traffic delays, remain calm, and drive safely.
- Evacuee Reception Centers will be opened in safe areas.
- Listen carefully to instructions by local officials. Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
- Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Always keep gas tanks at least half full. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies.
If you go to a shelter, notify staff of any special needs you may have. They will try to accommodate you as much as possible, but be aware that they have limited supplies and are not equipped to deal with special needs right away.
Be prepared to leave your home if:
➤ There is a fire in your home
➤ Your area is without electrical power or water for an extended period of time
➤ There is a chemical emergency affecting your area
➤ Flood water is rising
➤ A wildland fire is burning near your home
➤ Your home has been severely damaged
➤ Local officials tell you to evacuate
Evacuations are more common than many people realize. Hundreds of times each year transportation and industrial accidents release harmful substances, forcing thousands of people to leave their homes for unspecified amounts of time. Fires and floods cause evacuations even more frequently.
Shelter-in-place simply means staying inside your home or business. During an accidental release of toxic chemicals or emergencies involving hazardous materials where air quality may be threatened, sheltering-in-place keeps you inside a protected area and out of danger.If shelter-in-place is necessary, you will be notified by local authorities. If you are asked to shelter-in-place, take the following steps:
- Take your children and pets inside immediately. If there are toxic chemicals or hazardous materials involved, while gathering your family, cover your mouth and nose with a damp cloth to provide a minimal amount of coverage.
- Close doors and windows, as well as the fireplace damper.
- Turn off heating and air conditioning systems.
- Take family into pre-selected shelter room with emergency supplies kits and go to an above ground room (not the basement, if a chemical incident) with the fewest windows and doors.
- Wet some towels and jam them in the cracks under the doors. Seal doors, windows, vents and other openings with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Close drapes or shades over windows. Stay away from windows.
- Turn on battery-operated, AM/FM radio. Listen for information from officials.
- You may leave shelter when instructed by emergency officials.
- Once you are told to stop sheltering-in-place, vent your house by opening windows and turning on fans.
Create a shelter-in-place kit: • Battery-operated AM/FM radio • Precut and labeled plastic for doors and windows of your shelter area • Duct tape and scissors • Towels or rags • Water bottles and granola bars or non-perishable, no-cook food (enough for everyone sheltering).
There may be a reason to shelter in place that doesn’t involve a chemical or hazardous materials incident. Authorities may ask you to stay in your house while they are dealing with high tense events or searching for someone. Always follow their direction for your safety.
Be sure everyone in your household knows where to find shelter from all hazards that may affect your area.
This protective action is to stand-by for more information. At the onset of an emergency or disaster you and your family may not be involved in the initial evacuation or shelter-in-place orders. However, emergencies and disasters can escalate, at which time emergency officials may announce additional evacuation or shelter-in-place orders. To be alerted to the potential changes in conditions you should always monitor Tooele County’s warning systems. This is called standing by for more information. Keep your TV or radio on and tuned to an Emergency Alert System station. (KSL 1160 AM or 102.7 FM) It is wise to also monitor social media from reputable sources such as Emergency Management or Police, Fire, and Health Agencies.
Coping with Disasters
Physical and emotional reactions often occur as a result of a natural emergency, such as a car wreck, disaster, or traumatic event, such as a terrorist attack. These reactions may happen immediately, or weeks to months after an event. Traumatic stress reactions can happen to people of any age and can change a person’s behavior, thoughts, and physical health.
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased respiratory rate
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle and joint aches
- Panic Attacks
- Feelings of Depression
- Flashbacks or re-experiencing the event
- Withdrawal from normal social relations
- Performance problems at work or school
- Loss or increase in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, numb
- Being extremely anxious, fearful, agitated or irritable
- Feeling depressed
- Increased consumption of alcohol or prescribed, over-the-counter or illicit drugs
- Exhibiting suicidal tendencies
What You Can Do for Your Child
Disasters can leave children feeling frightened, confused, and insecure. Whether a child has personally experienced trauma, has merely seen the event on television, or has heard it discussed by adults, it is important for parents and teachers to be informed and ready to help if reactions to stress begin to occur.
Children may respond to disaster by demonstrating fears, sadness or behavioral problems. Younger children may return to earlier behavior patterns, such as bedwetting, sleep problems, and separation anxiety. Older children may also display anger, aggression, problems in school, or withdrawal. Some children who have only indirect contact with the disaster, but witness it on television may develop distress.
Children’s coping with disaster or emergencies is often tied to the way parents cope. They can detect adults’ fears and sadness. Parents and adults can make disasters less traumatic for children by taking steps to manage their own feelings and plans for coping. Parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters. One way to establish a sense of control and to build confidence in children before a disaster is to engage and involve them in preparing a family disaster plan and their own emergency supplies kit. After a disaster, children can contribute to a family recovery plan.
➤ Let your child know that it is okay to feel upset when something bad or scary happens Talk truthfully about the facts of the event according to the child’s age
➤ Encourage your child to express feelings and thoughts, without making judgments
➤ Return to daily routines as quickly as possible
➤ Allow them to help with the disaster recovery process for your family and for the community
What You Can Do for Yourself
There are many things you can do to cope with traumatic events:
➤ Understand that your symptoms may be normal, especially right after the trauma
➤ Keep to your usual routine as much as possible
➤ Take the time to resolve day-to-day conflicts so they do not add to your stress
➤ Do not shy away from situations, people, and places that remind you of the trauma
➤ Find ways to relax and be kind to yourself
➤ Find ways to help your family and/or the community in the recovery process
➤ Turn to family, friends, and clergy for support. Talk about your experiences and feelings with them
➤ Participate in leisure and recreational activities
➤ Recognize that you cannot control everything
➤ Recognize the need for help from trained professionals. Call a local mental health center
Preparation helps; when people feel prepared, they cope better, and so do children.
Children & Disasters
Children experience trauma and fear during a natural disaster. If they know what to do during a disaster, because they have practiced family disaster drills, they will be better able to handle the experience. When parents are calm, children calm down more quickly.
Before a disaster parents should:
➤ Familiarize yourself with the emergency response plans of schools and/or daycares your children attend
➤ Find out if the school/daycare will keep your children or send them home in an emergency
➤ Find out where the secondary reunification site may be if they have to evacuate from the school
➤ Decide if your children should get into your home if you are not there
➤ Decide if your children should take care of themselves or if a neighbor will take care of them
➤ Develop and practice your family disaster plan
➤ Teach children how to recognize danger signals
➤ Explain how to call for help (911)
➤ Help children memorize important family information
➤ Help children memorize their street address, not the P.O. Box
➤ Include children’s toys and special foods in their emergency supply kit
After a disaster, children are most afraid the disaster will happen again, someone will be hurt or killed, and they will be separated from family and left alone. Parents can help minimize their children’s fears by:
➤ Keeping the family together, do not leave children with relatives or friends – take your children with you
➤ Calmly and firmly explain the situation, facts, and your plans
➤ Talk to your children at eye level
➤ Encourage children to talk about the disaster and ask questions
➤ Include children in recovery activities by giving them chores that will help them feel they are helping things get back to normal
➤ Reassure children with firmness and love
➤ Sympathize with and resolve their anxieties. Discuss that their life will not be the same as it was before, but it will come close as you work together, as a family, to recover
➤ Hold your children and spend more time with them
Elderly / Special Needs Populations & Disasters
People with disabilities or special needs should take extra precautions when preparing for a disaster. One of the most important things you can do is have a buddy, someone who can help you evacuate and take care of you. During an emergency, your usual care giver may not be able to help you. Make sure your buddy knows how to operate any medical equipment you use and knows what medication you may need.
When planning for the care of the elderly and those with special needs, please consider the following recommendations: ➤ Establish a close network of relatives and friends who can assist your family in an emergency
➤ Make sure helpers know where to find the emergency supply kit which includes emergency supplies, medications, important documents, and other essential equipment
➤ Remind family members to always wear a medical alert tag or bracelet if they have threatening health conditions
➤ Sign up on the Utah Special Needs Registry by calling 211
➤ Compose a list of special items, equipment and supplies family members will need during a disaster. Extra supplies for people with disabilities and special needs may include:
2. Prosthetic devices
3. List of style and serial numbers of medical devices
4. Extra eye glasses and a record of the prescription
5. Emergency medical certification
6. Extra oxygen
7. Extra pillow, bedding
8. Medical insurance and Medicare cards and information
9. Back-up power supplies or generators for heat, air-conditioning, and oxygen generators
10. Extra wheelchair batteries and tools
11. Hearing aids, and extra batteries
12. Other needs that are used daily, keep an extra supply available
Animals & Disasters
Your animals need to be included in your family disaster plan since they depend on you for their wellbeing. Your disaster plan should include a list of emergency phone numbers for local agencies that can assist you if disaster strikes – including your veterinarian, state veterinarian, local animal shelter, animal care and control, county extension service, local agricultural schools, and the Health Department. These numbers should be kept with your disaster supply kit in a secure, but easily accessible place.
➤ If you must evacuate, do not leave your pets behind. There is a chance they will not survive or may get lost before you return.
➤ With the exception of service animals, pets are not permitted in emergency shelters. Find out which motels allow pets and where boarding facilities are located. Boarding facilities will require veterinarian records to prove vaccinations are current.
➤ Only some animal shelters will provide care for pets during emergencies. They should only be used as a last resort. Use friends and family or keep them with you if possible.
➤ Be sure your pet has proper identification tags securely fastened to their collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. Make sure you have a current photo of your pet for identification purposes.
➤ Make sure you have a secure pet carrier and leash for your pet. Pets may need to be restrained during tense emergency situations.
➤ Create an emergency supply kit for your pet. Take the kit with you and be prepared to leave it with whoever assumes responsibility for your pet.
➤ If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take. Confine your pet to a safe area inside. Never leave your pet chained outside. Place a notice outside in a visible area advising that pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached, as well as the name and number of your vet.
➤ Have a back-up plan in case you are not at home when an evacuation is ordered. Find a trusted neighbor who will agree to take your pets, in case you are not there, and make plans to meet you at a prearranged location. Make sure this person is comfortable with your pets, knows where they are likely to be, and where to find your pet emergency kit.
➤ Evacuate livestock whenever possible. Prepare in advance by having transportation and an evacuation destination prearranged. Alternate routes should be mapped out in case the planned route is inaccessible
➤ The evacuation sites may have, or be able to readily obtain food, water, veterinary care, and handle equipment and animals
➤ If evacuation is not possible, a decision must be made whether to move large animals to available shelter or turn them outside. This decision should be determined based on the type of disaster and the soundness and location of the shelter
➤ All animals should have some form of identification, such as brands or ear-tags, that will help facilitate their return
Wild or stray domestic animals can pose a danger during many types of disasters. Do not corner an animal, they may feel threatened and may endanger themselves or you. If an animal must be removed, contact your local animal control authorities