*It is the author’s intent that the
following information be used in combination with the reader’s own
personal knowledge, discernment and continued research. The following
information is intended to provide a general reference for the
We are accustomed to a standard of living that could not be imagined by
our great grandparents, only a few decades ago. Within the past 150
years the invention of, what we now consider common every day items,
such as the automobile, grocery and department stores, radios,
television and cell phones were invented. The advances in
transportation, communication, agriculture, medicine and technology have
truly led to the standard of living we are used to. The infrastructure
of today’s society that facilitates this high standard of living is, to
a degree, fragile. One only has to look back in our own country’s recent
history to understand this; from terrorist attacks and economic stress
to natural and man made disasters, all of which can threaten our way of
life. This is not meant to instill fear, but rather to inform. Ask your
self this question, “Am I and my family prepared for an emergency if and
when it should strike?” Taking a little time now to create a plan and to
ensure you have some basic items stored in your home can save you time,
money and eliminate the stress of having to decide what to do after an
emergency or disaster as occurred. Having the foresight to prepare now
for future uncertainties provides you with better options. For example,
an extended power outage occurs and you already have a supply of food
and water on hand you would not have to immediately rush out to the
store and deal with the large crowds franticly trying to buy up whatever
is left on the shelves. The idea that “I don’t need to plan or prepare
for an emergency because, if the situation becomes out of control, I’ll
just call 911” is not only irresponsible and foolish, it could actually
put you, your loved ones, and others in danger. Think about some of the
recent disasters around the globe. Relying on government assistance to
save you in an emergency may not happen when you need it most. Although
the government will be doing what it can, many times the manpower, funds
and resources to assist those in need will not be available to help
everyone immediately. So, why take the risk of relying on others for
your family’s well being? Take the responsibility of preparing now, so
you do not have to worry when the time comes. By reading through this
information you are taking the first step in planning for your family’s
safety in a time of crisis. The following are a few of the most likely
emergencies our community could face and should offer some ideas to aid
you in creating your family emergency plan.
Most of us can recall the recent
snow storms that affected our community this past winter. With the
experiences from those storms fresh in our minds one can certainly
understand the importance of being prepared for an emergency. In the
event of another severe winter storm, the best option is usually to
remain in your home for the duration of the storm. If you have an
emergency kit already in your home, your family will likely be able to
wait out the storm in relative comfort for several days, or weeks.
During a winter storm a heat source that does not require electricity is
key, because the possibility of wide spread power outages is likely. The
use of charcoal, gas or propane heaters is not a safe alternative as a
source of heat for indoor use because of the health hazard caused by the
toxic vapors they emit during use. For the same reason, if you use a
generator, keep it outside or ensure that it is properly ventilated.
Other suggestions for waiting out a blizzard in your home include:
Purchase a snow
shovel and a supply of rock salt or salt before a storm is
stripping around doors and windows to aid in keeping cold air from
entering your home
Seal off unused
rooms to help conserve your fuel supply for your heat source.
If working outside,
avoid exerting yourself to the point of sweating. Hypothermia will
quickly set in if you are unable to find shelter and dry off.
If you lose the
ability to heat your home, gather everyone into a south facing room
in your home. This will take advantage of the suns natural warmth as
it tracks across the sky.
Remember if a state
of emergency is declared you will most likely not be allowed to
travel on any public roadways.
For further information on a state of
emergency, review Delaware Code Title 20 Chapter 31.
This is an emergency situation that can
occur at any time of the year, and usually without warning. A power
outage scenario does not necessarily constitute an emergency, however,
if the electricity is out for an unusually long period of time problems
could arise. A safe solution in this type of situation is similar to the
strategy previously discussed for a blizzard. The idea is to remain in
your home and wait out the power outage. Again, if you have prepared
your household for an emergency, your only concern will be how to keep
the kids entertained. Of course, if the loss of electricity occurs in
the summer or winter months, special attention will be required to meet
the needs of any elderly or young children in your home. But, for the
most part, this situation is a waiting game for the power to come back
on and return life to normal.
In Millsboro, we have plenty of water in the river and ponds in and
around town. The chance of flooding is always a possibility, whether
caused by heavy rain, a hurricane or water main rupture. Most likely,
any flooding experienced in this area will be minor and not require
major action. Remaining calm and using common sense will probably get
you through the experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Know how to get to
higher ground, just a few feet could make the difference.
Move valuables and
water sensitive belongings off the floor and place items as high as
Do not attempt to
walk through fast moving more than six inches deep.
Do not attempt to
drive through a flooded area or washed out roadway.
If your vehicle
stalls in deep water, do not remain in the vehicle to wait for
assistance. Get out immediately and wait on higher ground.
Continue to scan for
updates on current events in the flood zone.
Avoid contact with
flood water if possible; the water could be contaminated with any
number of hazardous materials.
If you do come in
contact with flood water, sanitize yourself and clothes as soon as
Do not hesitate to
evacuate if instructed to do so by authorities.
Although Sussex County has not been in the
direct path a hurricane for several years, this always remains a very
real possibility. Hurricane season lasts from June through November,
with the peak activity from mid-august to late October. The most
critical decision you will be faced with when a hurricane is forecasted
to hit your town will be the decision to evacuate. When the time comes
for you to make this decision, the choice will be less stressful if you
already have a plan and the resources in place for your family. First
case scenario, you have decided to remain in your home until the storm
blows over. Here are some suggestions to consider in addition to the
general preparations you have made for an emergency.
Take steps to
protect your home and property from storm damage. Board up and brace
doors and windows. Securely fasten or remove items in your yard that
might cause damage or be destroyed.
Prior to the arrival
of the storm, fill the fuel tank in your vehicle(s)
You may be
instructed to turn off the valves to your utilities. Learn how to
properly turn them on and shut them off.
Remain in a small
room in the center of your home
Stay away from
windows and glass doors
Drink bottled water
and try to avoid tap water until deemed safe
Use hand and eye
protection if you have to go out during the storm and when cleaning
after the inclement weather passes.
radio or TV news broadcasts for any updates in your area.
damage to your property caused by the storm to report to your
Second case scenario, you have decided to
leave the area before the hurricane arrives. The sooner you decide to
leave, the easier the endeavor will be for you and your family. This
temporary relocation will be less hectic if you already have a family
emergency plan established. A map of Sussex County’s evacuation routes
can be found at this link [CLICK
HERE]. Having a prearranged location with a family member or friend
out of your local area and the route to reach your destination will be
most helpful. Because you are already prepares, all you have to do is
grab your family emergency kit, load the family in the car, and go.
No matter what type of emergency or
disaster you may be faced with, the basic principles are similar. You
will have to decide if you should leave and take your family to a safer
location, and if so, it is a good idea to have a plan already in place.
If you decide to remain in your home for the duration of the emergency,
do you have the knowledge and resources to safely do so? Are you
Being prepared does not require thousands of dollars spent stockpiling
goods and years of advanced training to ensure your family gets through
an emergency. Here are some ideas to help get you started and begin
thinking about what your family will require should an emergency occur.
First, create a Family Emergency Plan (FEP). In order to make you FEP
effective, you have to make it specific to your family’s particular
needs and requirements. Take into account any special needs like; young
children, elderly parents and pets. Do you have the particular items on
hand in quantities that will last several days? Do you have a means to
transport your family if you have to evacuate the area? When creating
your FEP it is a good idea to put together a folder or binder that
contains some key items such as; copies of important documents (driver’s
license, marriage certificates, diplomas, titles, ect). A list of
important addresses and phone numbers (to family members, friends,
schools, employers and doctors) is also important. Maps of the area you
might need to travel through, and even photographs of family members to
help locate them if they are missing are a good idea. It is vital that
your FEP to have several contingency plans for evacuating the home, if
the need arises. This should incorporate the routes to family and
friends whom you have pre-arranged to meet in an emergency. These
thought out locations should offer your family a safer alternative to
your home, whether that simply means temporarily moving out of the path
of a large storm or relocating to where more resources will be available
to sustain your family. There are many unforeseen reasons why leaving
your home could provide a safer environment for your family. Keep in
mind if the emergency requires you to evacuate, it is likely many others
will be attempting to do the same. This will cause major traffic
congestion. This is when a well thought out evacuation plan is needed.
Deciding where you are going to travel as early as possible and having
several alternative routes mapped out will aid you in avoiding traffic.
The second important aspect of preparing for an emergency or disaster is
simply having some common items in your home that will always be
available. The following is a list of just some of the items that could
be useful in an emergency. You may need to add to or subtract from this
list as dictated by your family’s needs.
Food (at least a three day supply)
Water (at least a three day supply, and a means to produce more
purified drinking water as needed)
Radio ( with NOAA bands and extra batteries and/or a hand crank)
Flashlight(s) and/or lamp (with extra batteries)
First aid kit (with plenty of extra bandages, gauzes and triple
Signaling tools (whistle or small mirror)
Duct tape and cordage
Pad of paper and pens/pencils/markers
Paper or plastic plates, cups and utensils
Miscellaneous hand tools (pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, knife, can
opener, tweezers, ect.)
Copy of your Family Emergency Plan
Extra prescription medications
Hygiene items (tooth brush/paste and deodorant)
A heat source and extra layers of clothing
Again, this is not by any means a complete list of everything one could
need in a disaster, but rather a good place to start. Your emergency kit
should be kept in a secure location where it can be easily accessed if
you need to leave at a moments notice. To easily facilitate this, place
the most basic and important items in a container or bag that can be
comfortably worn in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Third be prepared for any emergency or disaster by staying informed and
up to date on the events happening around you. You must be able to adapt
and improvise to meet your goals. Even the most well thought out plan
can go awry with unforeseen events. So, being able to think of a safe
and practical solution is a matter of creativity and determination to
persevere through the crisis.
The intent of this article is to provide you with information that will
aid you in creating an emergency plan for you and your loved ones. If
you are willing to plan ahead of time, you will be more likely to get
through any ordeal safely. The following are links that can help you
further your knowledge in emergency preparedness.