During an Emergency

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Emergency Preparation in Tompkins County, New York


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Families at a Red Cross shelter. Photo from the American Red Cross.

An emergency radio by Grundig.
You should have one like it in your supply kit!

Safe Shelter

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What do I do?
What is a shelter?

What do I do?

In an emergency, public safety officials will inform you of what to do. These announcements will come in the form of television and radio bulletins, so make sure your emergency supply kit has a battery-powered radio in it! The bulletins are likely to advise you to do one of three things:
  1. Stay put and stay tuned.
    • Gather the family and keep your pets close by.
    • Stay in your home.
    • Keep listening to the radio for further developments.
  2. Evacuate if you are told to do so.
    • Grab your emergency supply kit.
    • Gather your family -- anyone who is home (including pets).
    • If You Have Time
      • Unplug all appliances, turn off all lights, and shut off the electricity to the house (at the main breaker box). This prevents damage to electrical appliances due to power surges.
      • Shut off your home's water supply at the main water valve. This prevents floodwater or sewage from entering your home through the pipes.
      • If there is a flood coming, move furniture and valuables to a higher floor.
      • Call someone out of town to tell them where you are going and when you expect to get there.
      • Shut and lock all windows; lock the doors.
      • Follow evacuation instructions given by local officials. Sometimes, they will instruct you to go to a nearby shelter.
  3. Shelter in Place (usually only in hazardous materials or bioterror incidents):

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What is a shelter?

A shelter is a place people can go in an emergency to find food, get out of the weather, and have a place to sleep. Most emergency shelters are located in familiar buildings, like schools, and are run by the American Red Cross. Trained volunteers make up the staff of a shelter. These volunteers will work with you in a variety of ways:

In addition, the following services may also be available in the shelter: If you need to live at a shelter, try to be as flexible and understanding as you can be. Everyone will be stressed in an emergency, and conflicts may come up. Try to stay "cool," and if a problem isn't easily resolved, contact the shelter staff for help.


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