Disaster Preparedness

Earthquake Preparedness

Prepare a Home Earthquake Plan

  • Talk about earthquakes with your family so that everyone knows what to do in case of an earthquake. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.
  • Check your workplace and your children’s schools and day care centers to learn about their earthquake emergency plans. Make sure to inform babysitters and caregivers of those plans as well as your own.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture that could fall on you.
  • Practice DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON with your children. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm.
  • Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts: Find an online NOAA radio station. (You can also search for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store or Google Play, or purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio)
  • Keep a flashlight, comfortable shoes, and first aid kit including essential medications by your bed. Also make sure to store away canned food, a can opener, and plenty of water for each person in your family that is easily accessible.
  • Choose an out-of-town family contact and make sure your whole family has that person’s phone number

Protecting your home:

  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs. Have a professional install flexible fittings to avoid gas or water leaks.
  • Learn how to shut off the gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
  • Do not hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, near beds, couches, or anywhere people sleep or sit.
  • Install strong latches or bolts on cabinets. Large or heavy items should be closest to the floor.
  • Place large and heavy objects and breakable items (bottled foods, glass or china) on lower shelves
  • Have a professional make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation, and ask about strengthening tips for exterior features such as porches, decks, sliding glass doors, canopies, carports, and garage doors.
  • Learn about your area’s seismic building standards and land use codes before you begin new construction.

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Wildfires

Although residents of Washington think of wildfires only existing on the Eastern side of the Cascades, the Western side is also at a high risk with increasingly dry and warm summers. As a homeowner in Washington State, make sure you take proper precautions to minimize your risk of wildfire damage to your home.

There are a few things that homeowners can do to decrease the risk of a fire spreading near their home:

  • Clear debris from your roof, including cleaning dry leaves and needles out of your gutters
  • Remove tree limbs that overhang your roof. Limb up your trees so a fire spreading on the ground cannot leap to the tree canopy and spread from tree to tree
  • Move woodpiles away from your home in order to minimize the flammable materials near your house
  • Keep vegetation away from your home, specifically trees and bushes that contain a high amount of sap
  • Choose the most fire resistant material for your roof

Flooding

  • After a flood, be sure that you are maintaining good hygiene to avoid getting sick.
    • Always wash your hands with soap and water (that has been boiled or disinfected) before eating, after toilet use, after participating in cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated by floodwater or sewage.
    • Flooding may mean that water contains fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks.
    • Do not allow children to play in floodwater, as it could be contaminated with fecal matter. Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use one quarter cup of bleach in one gallon of water to disinfect household items or toys.
    • If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and clean water. Apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. If a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage, see a physician.
  • When dealing with floodwaters, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito-borne diseases. Follow these few easy steps to minimize the risk:
    • Check your home to rid it of standing water, which is where mosquitos can lay their eggs.
    • Make sure that windows remain closed or are sealed completely by screens at night
    • Eliminate popular breeding sites for mosquitos, which includes cleaning out eaves and gutters, turning over or removing empty plastic pots, picking up all beverage containers and cups, and removing vegetation or obstructions in drainage ditches that prevent the flow of water.
  • Flood insurance
    • Whether you live in a coastal community or inland, speak with your insurance agent now about flood insurance and review your homeowner’s policy.
    • Flood insurance is a cost-effective way to prepare financially for floods. To learn more about your risk and flood insurance, visit the website of the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Moisture that enters buildings from leaks or flooding accelerates mold growth. Make sure you know how to handle mold in water-damaged buildings:
    • To protect against health risks associated with mold, remove standing water from your home or office and remove wet materials.
    • If mold growth has already occurred, carefully remove or clean the moldy material. Consider using personal protective equipment when cleaning or removing mold.
    • Individuals with known mold allergies or asthma should not clean or remove moldy materials.

Pet Preparedness for Natural Disasters

As it is important to prepare yourself, your family, and your friends for a natural disaster, it is also important to have a plan for your pets.

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