This month’s tips and taglines hope to educate you on preparing for emergencies extending into the post 72-hour timeframe as it applies to power and sheltering considerations. With the growing frequency and severity of emergencies, coupled with the interdependence of all of us living on the “grid,” it is more important than ever before to communally foster a culture of preparedness and self-reliance. Read on for information on cost-effective and environmentally friendly ways to generate power and alternate ways to accomplish tasks without power. We also included tips on what to look for in a shelter location and few wilderness sheltering methods.
This year marks a growing focus on sustainability in emergency preparedness at large. We want people to be mindful of their impact on their world around them, deepen their understanding of power and shelter principles and motivating them to action with DIY know-how. Through this initiative, we also seek to encourage people to develop resources that can be used and pooled together in times of need.
In addition, for January, taking place each year on the third Monday, the MLK holiday is a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community. Consider an activity that could help your community better prepare for emergencies. Click here to find volunteer opportunities near you!
As always, the purpose of these resources is to provide you with Do It Yourself (DIY) tools that make it easy for you to lead by example. Included in this email:
Our goal is to provide tools that everyone can use and share to spread the message. We are always open to any feedback or suggestions. These DIY tools will always be synchronized with ongoing seasonal preparedness themes throughout the year.
January DIY tips can be posted on bulletin boards, reinforced at meetings, and be adapted into talking points in any venue to Enforce sustainable preparedness practices for power and sheltering
Power Outage Preparedness
A power outage can occur because of a variety of circumstances. Prior preparation is key to dealing with this hazard and can make all the difference. Identify what your critical needs are and see how many of them can be done without power (cooking, washing, etc.). For everything else, educate yourself and invest in a sustainable energy solution for your critical power issues that is right for you.
- 8 DIY tagline quotes that folks can voluntarily add to their email signature block to continually direct readers to volunteer and preparedness resources.
- DIY preparedness tips culled from the toolkit to reinforce the new month’s Preparedness Themes.
During a Power Outage: Safety Tips
- Before a power outage occurs, it is import to take steps now to prepare: Have an emergency charging option for your phone and other mobile devices. Smartphones have become a vital tool to receive emergency alerts and warnings, so it’s important to make sure you can keep them powered up in an emergency. Prior to severe weather, make sure that all your electronic devices are fully charged. If the power goes out, preserve battery power by minimizing device use. Keep a back-up power source on hand to recharge your phone so that you can stay connected even during an extended power outage. Keep a portable phone charger in your vehicle always, and consider purchasing a back-up power supply to keep in your vehicle as well.
- Consider setting up an emergency solar and/or wind powered power generation system to power appliances and store in batteries. If you are considering purchasing a generator for your home, consult an electrician or engineer before purchasing and installing. Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.
- Battery-stored backup power - Allows you to continue operating lights, refrigerators and other appliances, fans, and communications during a power outage. These systems can connect to renewable sources of energy, like solar panels and small-scale wind generators, to help the batteries stay charged during an emergency. You can also recharge many of these battery systems with diesel generators. The length of time you will be able to draw electricity from your batteries will depend on the size of your battery bank. Emergency mobile battery backup power systems can power cell phones and lights for a relatively short period of time (for example, 700−1,500 watt hours). Pre-wired solar-powered battery backup systems offer more power output for longer periods of time (example, 5,000−10,000 watt hours).
- Solar power - Solar power can provide a portion of daily primary power as well as reliable backup power during an emergency. Solar panels, or solar modules, are typically installed on the roofs of homes or work facilities. These solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into direct current power, which is then converted by an inverter into alternating current power, or standard electrical current used in your home or office. Battery systems can recharge using solar power. As the solar panels generate energy during the day, any excess energy not used by the home or office can be stored for use at night, on rainy days, or during power outages.
- Wind power - A small-scale wind electric system (such as residential or institutional) can help homeowners, small business owners, and public facilities generate their own energy for onsite use. A small wind turbine produces electricity from wind when moving air causes the turbine to rotate. Most small wind turbines look like a miniaturized version of the large, utility-scale, three-bladed turbines, but other models can vary widely in appearance. Wind electric systems are less widely used by the public than solar-powered systems because many municipalities do not include small wind systems in local zoning codes. This often makes permitting and installing the systems difficult and costly.
- Fuel cells - Fuel cells are similar to batteries and can power cars, trucks, and buses, as well as portable devices such as cell phones and laptop computers. Fuel cell systems can also provide backup power to buildings and facilities. Today, fuel cells are often fueled with natural gas. They are relatively expensive. In 2005, the most widely deployed fuel cells cost about $4,500 per kW; by contrast, a diesel generator costs $800 to $1,500 per kW.
- Store important documents in a secure, password-protected jump drive or in the cloud and have paper copies. Back-up your computer to protect photos and other personally important electronic documents. Scan old photos to protect them from loss.
- Keep your contacts updated and synced across all your channels, including phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group listserv of your top contacts.
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
- Know where the manual release lever of electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
- Freeze water-filled reusable containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full-gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your state’s or local website so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.
- If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent like a medical device, determine a back-up plan and consider investing in redundant power systems like back-up solar generators and batteries. For more planning information tips visit: Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs
After a Power Outage
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Most food requiring refrigeration can be kept safely in a closed refrigerator for several hours. An unopened refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours. For more information about food safety visit our food page.
- Take steps to remain cool if it is hot outside. In intense heat when the power may be off for a long time, consider going to a movie theater, shopping mall or “cooling shelter” that may be open in your community. If you remain at home, move to the lowest level of your home, since cool air falls. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing, drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
- Turn off or disconnect appliances and other equipment in case of a momentary power “surge” that can damage computers and other devices. Consider adding surge protectors.
Taking appropriate shelter is critical in times of disaster. Sheltering is appropriate when conditions require that you seek protection in your home, place of employment or other location when disaster strikes. Sheltering outside the hazard area could include staying with friends and relatives, seeking commercial lodging or staying in a mass care facility operated by disaster relief groups.
- Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out!
- If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it.
- Contact your doctor if you’re concerned about medications having spoiled.
- Restock your emergency kit with fresh batteries, canned foods and other supplies
Mass Care Shelter
- To effectively shelter, you must first consider the hazard and then choose a place in your home or other building that is safe for that hazard. For example, for a tornado, a room should be selected that is in a basement or an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. The safest locations to seek shelter vary by hazard. Be Informed about the sheltering suggestions for each hazard. There may be situations, depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside by “sheltering in place".
- The length of time you are required to shelter may be short, such as during a tornado warning, or long, such as during a winter storm or a pandemic. It is important that you stay in shelter until local authorities say it is safe to leave. Additionally, you should take turns listening to radio broadcasts and maintain a 24-hour safety watch. During extended periods of sheltering, you will need to manage water and food supplies to ensure you and your family have the required supplies and quantities. Read more about Managing Water and Managing Food.
Guidelines for Staying Put (Sheltering in Place)
- Even though mass care shelters often provide water, food, medicine and basic sanitary facilities, you should plan to take your disaster supplies kit with you so you will have the supplies you require. Mass care sheltering can involve living with many people in a confined space, which can be difficult and unpleasant. To avoid conflicts in the stressful situation, it is important to cooperate with shelter managers and others assisting them. Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages and weapons are forbidden in emergency shelters and smoking is restricted. Search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA). Ex: Shelter 01234 (standard rates apply) Learn more by visiting: DisasterAssistance.gov
- Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside.
- There may be circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "sealing the room," is a matter of survival. Use common sense and available information to assess the situation and determine if there is immediate danger. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.
- The process used to seal the room is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that requires preplanning.
- Bring your family and pets inside.
Federal Emergency Management Agency- Region III
Regional Preparedness Liaison
Individual and Community Preparedness Division
615 Chestnut Street
One Independence Mall, Sixth Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106-4404
E-mail: john.[email protected]
- Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
- Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
- Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
- Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
- Seal all windows, doors and air vents with 2-4 mil. thick plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
- Cut the plastic sheeting several inches wider than the openings and label each sheet.
- Duct tape plastic at corners first and then tape down all edges.
- Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
- Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.