In the event of a disaster or emergency, the Ashtabula Fire Department will make every effort to provide assistance for you.
However, as we all learned during the winter storm of 2008, the size and scope of an emergency may exceed our ability to assist everyone at the same time. During these times, we are forced to prioritize our efforts and focus on the most severe problems first. This may significantly delay our response to your request.
You can minimize the impact of an emergency by taking action now to be more prepared. This website is designed to help you. If you have any questions about preparedness, feel free to call the Fire Department.
What is Emergency Preparedness?
There are real benefits to being prepared.
- Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a tornado. They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.
- People also can reduce the impact of disasters (flood proofing, elevating a home or moving a home out of harm’s way, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake) and sometimes avoid the danger completely.
The need to prepare is real.
- Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects, both to people and property.
- If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to be ready as well. Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.
- You should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area – hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme cold, flooding, or terrorism.
- You should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation
Shelter in Place
How to prepare to shelter in place
Choose a room in your house or apartment for the shelter. The best room to use for the shelter is a room with as few windows and doors as possible. A large room with a water supply is best—something like a master bedroom that is connected to a bathroom. For most chemical events, this room should be as high in the structure as possible to avoid vapors (gases) that sink. This guideline is different from the sheltering-in-place technique used in tornadoes and other severe weather and for nuclear or radiological events, when the shelter should be low in the home.
You might not be at home if the need to shelter in place ever arises, but if you are at home, the following items, many of which you may already have, would be good to have in your shelter room:
- First aid kit
- Flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries for both
- A working telephone
- Food and bottled water. Store 1 gallon of water per person in plastic bottles as well as ready-to-eat foods that will keep without refrigeration in the shelter-in-place room. If you do not have bottled water, or if you run out, you can drink water from a toilet tank (not from a toilet bowl). Do not drink water from the tap.
- Duct tape and scissors.
- Towels and plastic sheeting. You may wish to cut your plastic sheeting to fit your windows and doors before any emergency occurs.
How to know if you need to shelter in place
Most likely you will only need to shelter for a few hours.
If there is a “code red” or “severe” terror alert, you should pay attention to radio and television broadcasts to know right away whether a shelter-in-place alert is announced for your area.
You will hear from the local police, emergency coordinators, or government on the radio and on television emergency broadcast system if you need to shelter in place.
What to do:
- Act quickly and follow the instructions of your local emergency coordinators such as law enforcement personnel, fire departments, or local elected leaders. Every situation can be different, so local emergency coordinators might have special instructions for you to follow. In general, do the following:
- Go inside as quickly as possible. Bring any outdoor pets indoors.
- If there is time, shut and lock all outside doors and windows. Locking them may pull the door or window tighter and make a better seal against the chemical. Turn off the air conditioner or heater. Turn off all fans, too. Close the fireplace damper and any other place that air can come in from outside.
- Go in the shelter-in-place room and shut the door.
- Turn on the radio. Keep a telephone close at hand, but don’t use it unless there is a serious emergency.
- Sink and toilet drain traps should have water in them (you can use the sink and toilet as you normally would). If it is necessary to drink water, drink stored water, not water from the tap.
- Tape plastic over any windows in the room. Use duct tape around the windows and doors and make an unbroken seal. Use the tape over any vents into the room and seal any electrical outlets or other openings.
- If you are away from your shelter-in-place location when a chemical event occurs, follow the instructions of emergency coordinators to find the nearest shelter. If your children are at school, they will be sheltered there. Unless you are instructed to do so, do not try to get to the school to bring your children home. Transporting them from the school will put them, and you, at increased risk.
- Listen to the radio for an announcement indicating that it is safe to leave the shelter.
- When you leave the shelter, follow instructions from local emergency coordinators to avoid any contaminants outside. After you come out of the shelter, emergency coordinators may have additional instructions on how to make the rest of the building safe again.
Internet Shelter in Place Resources
Emergency Preparedness Links
- Ready.gov is the main U.S. Government website relating to emergency preparedness. Build your 72 hour kit, learn how to prepare and research other questions here. www.ready.gov
- The Centers for Disease Control is one of Federal Agencies involved in Public Health. Their website contains information about bio-terrorism, injuries and disease and how to prepare for them. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/
- FEMA’s website contains information on the phases of an emergency and how to prepare. This site will help you get ready for emergencies and it details some of the Federal programs designed to help recover from disasters. http://www.fema.gov/
- The American Red Cross’s preparedness website is www.redcross.org/prepare.