After a major disaster, emergency response services may not be available to immediately respond to everyone's needs, so it's important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family. Plan to be on your own for at least the first 72 hours.
The following steps will help you prepare for any emergency:
- Designate an out-of-area contact person. Try to select someone that is far enough away to not be affected by the same emergency. Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people you want to keep informed of your situation. Instruct family members to call this person and tell them where they are. Long distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.
- Duplicate important documents and keep copies off-site, either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Documents may include: passport, drivers license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license and prescriptions.
- Inventory valuables, in writing and with photographs or video.Keep copies of this information off-site with your other important documents.
- Involve all key people in planning.
- Put together a disaster supply kit. Plan to have supplies for yourself and your family for at least 3 days following a disaster.
- When planning, consider the special needs of children, seniors and people with functional needs and family members that don't speak English. Don't forget your pets.
Talk with your family about potential disasters and why it's necessary to prepare for them. Involve each member of your family in the planning process. By showing them simple steps that can increase their safety, you can help reduce their anxiety about emergencies.
- Make sure everyone knows where to find your disaster supply kit and Go Bag as defined in the Build a Kit section.
- Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone's bed in case there is an earthquake during the night.
- Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate. Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full.
- Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
- Make sure each member of your family knows who your family's out-of-state contact is and instruct them to call this person and tell him/her where they are.
- Locate the gas main and other utilities and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off.
- Practice your evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll drills.
- Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Create emergency response cards for each of your family members.
Take into account the special needs of children, seniors and people with functional needs. Also consider members that don't speak English. Don't forget your pets.
Get to know your neighbors. Find out if anyone has specialized equipment, like a power generator or expertise such as medical knowledge that might help in a crisis. Make arrangements to check on your neighbor's home or pets if you are home, while they are away, when a disaster strikes.
During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. There are simple steps you can take to make your home safer. Start by viewing each room with a "disaster eye" and identify potential hazards - bookshelves that could tip over in an earthquake and block exits or heavy objects that could fall and cause injury.
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and change batteries every 6 months.
- Move beds away from windows.
- Move mirrors and heavy pictures away from couches or places where people sit.
- Clear hallways and exits for easy evacuation.
- Store heavy items on the lowest shelves.
- Keep an ABC type fire extinguisher on each level and know how and when to use it.
- Strap down your water heater and fit all gas appliances with a flexible gas supply line.
- Store flammable or highly reactive chemicals (such as bleach, ammonia and paint thinners) securely and separate from each other.
- Secure pictures and wall hangings and use restraints to secure heavy items such as bookcases and file cabinets.
- Know how and when to switch off your utilities.
- Ensure that all window safety bars have emergency releases.
- Be sure your home number is visible from the street so emergency vehicles can find you.
- Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety.
- Teach your children their basic personal information so they can identify themselves and get help if they become separated from a parent or guardian.
- Prepare an emergency card with information for each child, including his/her full name, address, phone number, and parent's work number and out of state contact.
- Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get to them.
- Regularly update your child's school with current emergency contact information and persons authorized to pick up your child from school.
- Make sure each child knows the family's alternate meeting sites if you are separated in a disaster and cannot return to your home.
- Make sure each child knows how to reach your family's out-of-state contact person.
- Teach children to dial their home telephone number and Emergency 9-1-1.
- Teach children what gas smells like and advise them to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency.
- Warn children never to touch wires on poles or wires that are lying on the ground.
- Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses such as evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll.
- Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured.
- Role-play with children on what to say when calling Emergency 9-1-1.
- Include a family picture and a favorite toy, game or book for each child in his/her Go Bag as defined in the Build a Kit section.
- Include your child's emergency card and include information on reunification locations and out-of-area contact.
- Provide comfort food and treats for each child in your family disaster supplies kit.
- Keep a recent photo of your children in your Go-bag.
Seniors & People with Functional Needs
- Set up a Personal Support Network: Designate someone to check on you in an emergency and to help with evacuation or sheltering-in-place.
- Prepare and carry with you an emergency health information card: This will help you to communicate if you are found unconscious or incoherent. Include information about your medications, adaptive equipment, blood type, allergies and sensitivities, insurance numbers, immunization dates, communication difficulties and preferred treatment, as well as contact information for your health providers, personal support network and emergency contacts.
- Personal Care Assistance: If you receive assistance from a home healthcare agency or in-home support provider, find out how the provider will respond in an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
- For Persons Using a Wheelchair: Plan for how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup.
- For Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Keep an extra cane by your bed. Attach a whistle; in case you need to attract attention. Exercise caution when moving, paths may have become obstructed.
- For Persons who are Hearing Impaired: Keep extra batteries for your hearing aids with emergency supplies. Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly after a disaster.
- For persons with Communication Disabilities: Store paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board and preprinted key phrases in your emergency kit, your wallet, purse, etc.
There are numerous ways you can get involved to help Elk Grove be better prepared for the next emergency. Aa few suggestions would be with:
- Keep a collar, current license and up-to date ID tags on your pet at all times. Consider having your pet micro-chipped.
- Make sure your pet is comfortable being in a crate, box, cage, or carrier for transport.
- Keep an updated list of trusted neighbors who could assist your animals in case of an emergency.
- Tighten and secure latches on birdcages. Fasten down aquariums on low stands or tables.
Make a Go-bag for each pet. Include:
- Sturdy leashes and pet carriers. A pillowcase is a good option for transporting cats and other small animals. Muzzles for dogs. Food, drinking water and medicine for at least one week.
- Non-spill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid.
- Plastic bags, litter box and litter.
- Recent photo of each pet.
- Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters.
- Copy of your pet's vaccination history and a list of any medical problems.
- Portable fencing or baby gates.
- Remember that animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs securely leashed and transport cats in carriers or pillowcases.
- If your pet is lost, contact the nearest animal shelter to report your pet missing.
Locate all your animals and keep them with you. Be aware that shelters will only allow service animals. In a large-scale disaster, animal shelters will be set up when possible.
SPCA Shelter Location:
6201 Florin-Perkins Road
Open Tuesday - Sunday
11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Phone: (916) 383-7387
If you must leave your pets behind:
- Inform animal rescue workers of your pets' status: On your front door or in a highly visible window, use chalk, paint or marker to write the number and types of pets in your residence. Include their location in your home and the date that you evacuated.
- Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over.
- Leave plenty of food in timed feeders to prevent your pet from overeating.
- Do not tie up your pet in your home.
Elk Grove Animal Care Program Line (916) 687-3042 or go to Animal Control.
Natural gas leaks can cause an explosive and flammable atmosphere inside a building.
Natural gas leaks can cause fires and explosions inside a building.
- If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a leak, shut off the main valve and open all windows and doors.
- Never use candles or matches if you suspect a leak. Do not turn on electrical switches or appliances.
- Identify the main shutoff valve, located on the gas line coming into the main gas meter. This is usually on the exterior of your home or building, or in an external closet. Your main valve may look like this:
- To turn gas off, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the lever crosses the direction of the pipe (see below) the gas is off.
- Keep a crescent wrench or gas shut-off tool nearby to turn the lever.
- Never attempt to turn your gas back on. Wait for your utility company to do it. This may take several days.
Electrocution can result from direct contact with live wires or anything that has been energized by these wires.
- Locate your main electric switch, which is normally in the garage or outdoors. The panel box may have a flip switch or pull handle on a large circuit breaker.
- Shut off electricity when:
- Arcing or burning occurs in electrical devices.
- There is a fire or significant water leak.
- You smell burning insulation.
- The area around switches or plugs is blackened and/or hot to the touch.
- A complete power loss is accompanied by the smell of burning material.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E):
Phone: (800) 743-5000
Water leaks can cause property damage and create an electrocution hazard.
- After a major earthquake, shut off your water supply to protect the water in your house. Cracked pipes may allow contaminants into the water supply in your home.
- The water shutoff is usually located in the basement, garage or where the water line enters the home. The water shutoff is located on a riser pipe and is usually a red or yellow wheel. Turn wheel clockwise to shut off water.
A disaster that disrupts all or part of the City's water and/or sewer lines could affect the way you deal with human waste.
- If there is no water in your toilet, but the sewer lines are intact, pour 3-5 gallons of water into the toilet bowl to flush. You may use rainwater, bath and laundry or pool water.
- If you suspect damage to your home's water lines, do NOT flush the toilet. Turn off water at the house so contaminated water does not enter your water system.
- If sewer lines are broken, line bowl with double-bagged garbage bags to collect waste. Before discarding, add a small amount of bleach; then seal the bag and place in a tightly covered container, away from people.
- If the toilet is unusable, use a sturdy bucket with a tight fitting lid, and line it with a double-bagged plastic garbage bag.
If you would like more training related to Emergency Preparedness you should contact the following agencies: