Monday, March 30, 2015

6 Thunderstorm Safety Tips


All thunderstorms produce lightning and have the potential for danger. Those dangers can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail, wildfires and flash flooding, which is responsible for more fatalities than any other thunderstorm-related hazard.

Lightning’s risk to individuals and property is increased because of its unpredictability, which emphasizes the importance of preparedness. It often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months in the afternoon and evening.

During a Thunderstorm: 

  • Stay inside a building or hard-top vehicle.
  • Stay clear of tall, isolated trees, hilltops, open fields, beaches, or any metal objects that may act as lightning rods.
  • Avoid showering, bathing, and using a phone that has a cord, except in an emergency. (Cordless and cellular phones are safe to use.)
  • Unplug appliances, televisions, computers and air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • If outside, take cover immediately but never stand under a tall tree in an open area.
  • Don’t touch metal, electrical equipment, telephones, bathtubs, water faucets or sinks.

Monday, March 23, 2015

How to Make a Go Bag

In the event that you need to evacuate your home due to fire, flooding or some other emergency, it's important to have essential supplies for each member of your household ready to go in a portable kit. Many of these materials can be found around your home or even at a dollar store: 

  • Copies of your important documents, such as insurance cards, photo IDs, birth certificates, deeds, and proof of address. Keep these in a waterproof and portable container. 
  • Extra set of car and house keys.   
  • Credit and ATM cards.   
  • Cash, especially in small bills (ones, fives and tens).   
  • Bottled water and ready-to-eat foods, such as energy or granola bars.   
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.   
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries (You can also buy wind-up radios that do not require batteries.)  
  • Medication. Be sure to refill medications before they expire. Fill out a Health Information Card or keep a list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages. Also keep copies of all prescriptions, and your doctors’ and pharmacist’s contact information.   
  • First-aid kit.   
  • Sturdy, comfortable shoes, lightweight rain gear, and a mylar blanket.   
  • A copy of your Household Emergency Plan with important contact and meeting place information.  
  • A small regional map (Emergency Evacuation Route Map).   
  • Personal care items: hand sanitizer, feminine products, toothbrush and toothpaste, toilet paper and wipes.  
  • Special care items, including child care supplies, items for special needs and pet supplies.

Monday, March 16, 2015

9 Flood Safety Tips


It’s important to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water, or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding, so follow these tips:
  • Know your area's flood risk and consider flood insurance. To estimate your flood risk and flood insurance premium, visit or call 1-800-427-2419.   
  • Make an itemized list of personal property, including furnishings, clothing, and valuables.  
  • Fill out a Household Emergency Plan containing important contacts for you and your family in the event of any emergency.
  • Sign up for ReadyNotifyPA, the region’s emergency text and email alert system, and find out first by logging on to  (The alerts are free; however, your wireless provider may charge for text messaging.)
  • Prepare a Go Bag with a portable AM/FM radio that you can grab when you need to evacuate you home and it is safe to leave.
  • Learn the safest route to higher ground from your home or place of business to stay in case you have to evacuate. This should be part of your Household Emergency Plan.
  • If you live in a flood-susceptible area, keep materials, such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber, on hand to help protect your home.  
  • Never walk across flood waters, just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. 
  • Avoid flooded roadways and do not attempt to drive through flood waters, just two feet of moving water can sweep a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) off the road.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How to Shelter-in-Place

In the event that the outside air becomes contaminated, due to a hazardous materials spill; or that it's simply safer to stay indoors, like during a major storm; be prepared to Shelter-in-Place.

Prepare to Shelter-in-Place by identifying a room in your home that is large enough for everyone in your household, including pets; that is above street level; with as few doors and windows as possible; with access to water, electricity, a phone jack and bathroom facilities. Officials may instruct you to seal the room, so be ready to seal any doors, windows, air vents and exhaust fans with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Also, it's important to know how to turn off exhaust fans, heating and cooling systems and close any fireplace dampers.

Then, create a Shelter-in-Place Kit with at least a three day supply of the following items for everyone in your home, including pets:
  • Three gallons of drinking water per person.
  • Food that will not perish easily, such as granola bars, energy bars and canned foods.
  • Manual can opener and eating utensils.
  • Plastic sheeting (pre-cut to fit your doors, windows, air vents), scissors and duct tape.
  • First-aid Kit.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Iodine tablets or one quart of unscented bleach and an eyedropper. (Disinfect water ONLY if directed to do so by health officials. To disinfect water with bleach, add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water.)
  • Personal care items: soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and baby wipes.
  • Phone that does not need electricity (just plugs into a phone jack).
  • Child care supplies or other special needs items like medicine or supplies for your pets.