Natural Disasters

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Responding to Natural Disasters


If your smoke detector goes off or if you notice a fire, remain calm. Do not try to fight a major fire. If your clothes catch on fire, Stop where you are, Drop to the ground, and Roll over and over to smother the flames. If you live in a high-rise multiple dwelling and the fire is not in your apartment, stay in your apartment rather than entering smoke-filled hallways.

  • In high-rise office buildings, only evacuate if the fire is on your floor or the one above it, and descend to the second floor below the fire floor. Other occupants should remain on their floor and monitor the PA system for further instructions.
  • If a fire breaks out in your house or non-fireproof apartment building, get out as quickly as possible.
  • Feel doors with the back of your hand before you open them. If they are hot, find another way out. Stay as close to the floor as possible – smoke and heat rise and the air is clearer and cooler near the floor.
  • Close doors behind you.
  • If you are unable to get out for any reason, stay near a window and close to the floor. Close the door and stuff the bottom with a towel to avoid smoke. If possible, signal for help by waving a cloth or sheet outside the window.
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe place such as a neighbor's house.
  • Do not stop to get anything.
  • Do not use the elevator.
  • To prevent fires, keep an ABC-type fire extinguisher and working smoke detectors in the house. Check batteries twice a year at daylight-saving time.
  • Consider renter's insurance if you rent an apartment.


Although major earthquakes are uncommon, tremors occasionally occur and residents should be prepared. Drop to the floor. Take cover under a solid piece of furniture or next to an interior wall. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Hold on to a sturdy piece of furniture and be prepared to move with it. Stay where you are until the shaking stops. Be prepared for aftershocks, which often follow an earthquake. Note that after an earthquake, your utilities may be disrupted.



Remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood. Flood risk isn’t just based on history; it’s also based on a number of factors including rainfall, topography, flood-control measures and changes due to construction or development.


If a flood is likely in your area, residents are encouraged to:

  • Listen to the television or radio for further information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, and other areas that are known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:


  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick or pole to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.
  • Do not park your vehicles along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.

The following are important points to remember when driving in flood conditions:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-up trucks.
  • Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of the water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could become stranded or trapped.
  • Do not drive around posted barricades. Barricades are deployed for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
  • Do not try to take short cuts. They may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes.
  • Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.


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