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During a Disaster

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If and When Disaster Strikes

It is wise to become familiar with your resources before a disaster strikes, but what do you do if and when, it happens? Here are four steps you can use to ensure as much safety as possible for yourself and others around you.

In an emergency, resist the urge to panic and run. If possible, take a moment to grasp the situation at hand and get your bearings. Maintaining a logical frame of mind in the face of a disaster will help lead others, and yourself, to safety.

Pay attention to what is happening, remember what you have learned about practicing safe behavior in emergencies and respond accordingly.

- If there is debris falling, drop down; take cover under something sturdy, and hold on to something with one hand while protecting your head and neck with the other.

- If there is smoke, stay near the floor.

- When the time calls for evacuation, look for marked exits and DO NOT use elevators.

What is the immediate source of danger: broken glass, fire, smoke, stampedes (people running frantically)? Where are the most accessible exits? Are you actually hurt or just frightened? Are there people around you who need help? 

When you stop, think, and look, you have a greater chance to react effectively. This will most likely help others around you do the same.

Examples of what you should report to authorities:

-Unusual behavior, incidents, or smells
-Unusual dress for the season
-Large purchases of fertilizer or similar products
-Missing uniforms or identification
-Unusual or unattended packages or suitcases 

If you are at one of the following locations when a natural disaster or terrorist attack occurs, please follow these measures in order to ensure safety for yourself, and for others. 

Shopping Mall-Beware of broken glass from store fronts. If you happen to be inside a store, take cover. Then, take a moment to assess what has just occurred. If there are odd smells present, be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a cloth. A majority of shopping malls have various methods of safety and protection in place, should a disaster or terrorist attack occur. Most likely, a public address system will be used, in order to provide you with specific safety instructions. When it is time to evacuate, use only marked exits and once again, DO NOT use elevators. Follow the instructions of the security officials, and make sure to carry small children, so they won’t be overtaken or lost in a crowd.

Sports Arena, Theater, Religious Facility-If an earthquake, explosion, shooting, or any sort of disaster occurs, get down between the rows of seats, using them as much as possible as a barricade from the danger. Use the drop, cover, and hold method until you are told it is time to evacuate. If there is a fire, cover your nose and mouth for protection from the hazardous smell of smoke. As with any evacuation, carry small children so they will not be lost and trampled by the crowd. Beware of bottlenecks at exit points.

Airport-American airports perhaps have the most advanced, intricate methods of security. Security officials will provide you with specific safety instructions in the event of an emergency. Remember-don’t panic. Follow the instructions of the security officials and do not leave your luggage unattended. If you see something suspicious, be sure to advise a security officer. 

Once again, preparation for emergencies within your community is crucial. The more you prepare, the more prepared you will be if and when a disaster occurs. Please refer to the following websites to educate yourself on the resources available: 

Emergency Survival Program

American Red Cross 

United States Department of Homeland Security

Federal Bureau of Investigation