Emergency Management News

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Springtime Flooding #OKdrought #AltusOK

With spring comes the expectation of warmer weather and longer days. But it may also bring heavy rains and rapid snowmelt that can increase your risk for one of the most common disasters in the United States – floods. Properly preparing for this hazard can keep your family safe, minimize potential damage and speed up recovery efforts.
While everyone is at risk for flooding, many remain financially unprotected. One of the best ways to protect your home is by purchasing flood insurance because flood losses are not typically covered under homeowner’s insurance policies. Keep in mind that there is a 30-day waiting period before flood coverage takes effect, so the time to purchase is now!
In addition to flood insurance, follow these steps to safeguard your home and possessions:
  • Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions, and keep it in a secure place such as a waterproof container or safe deposit box;
  • Keep a written and visual record of all major household items and valuables;
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if you live in an area that has a high flood risk; and
  • Consider installing “check valves” to prevent flood water from backing up in the drains of your home.
No matter the source, a flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to be costly. Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Check out this interactive Cost of Flooding tool from FloodSmart.gov to measure the financial impact a flood could have on your home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Food Safety During Blackouts

Loss of power can jeopardize the safety of the food stored in your home refrigerator or freezer. In the event of a blackout, do you know how to determine if your food is safe to eat? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers tips to minimize the potential loss of food and lower the risk of foodborne illness.
Before a blackout:
  • Gather an emergency supply of shelf-stable food, packaged foods, boxed or canned milk, bottle water, and canned goods;
  • Have coolers and frozen gel packs on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power goes out longer than four hours; and
  • Keep freezer items close together—this helps the food stay cold longer.
Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The USDA instructs setting your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the power is out for less than four hours and the refrigerator door is kept closed, your food should be safe.
Following a blackout:
  • Discard any perishable food items such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers that have been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more;
  • Use a food thermometer to test the temperature of food – never taste it!  You can’t rely on appearance and odor to determine whether food is safe; and
  • Discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat, seafood, or poultry juices.
Power outages can occur anywhere at any time of the year. Make sure you and your family are prepared and know what to do to avoid getting sick.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ready to Go Off Grid

Due to the recent winter storms several communities across the county have experienced dangerous utility outages. Beyond the initial inconvenience, loss of electricity, gas or water can be life threatening. It is critical to know how you and your family can prepare and stay safe in the event of a utility outage.
Use FEMA’s free, online activity module, “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages,” to reference simple steps to get prepared for an outage. Some utility outage checklist items include:
  • Document important phone numbers and vital power company information;
  • Locate and label your utility shutoffs; and
  • Have your disaster kit ready and stocked.
The “Going Off Grid: Utility Outages” activity module is part of FEMA’s “Preparedness Activities for Communities Everywhere” tools, which educate individuals about easy ways to become prepared for all types of hazards. The tools are designed for anyone to use in coordination with local emergency preparedness partners to help better prepare for emergencies.

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