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Citizen’s Guide
to Hazard Mitigation and Emergency Preparedness

SPECIAL NOTICE:  For COVID-19 (virus) information please go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the latest information.  Also you can click on "Infectious Diseases" under the "What Can I Do?" to the right.

What are “Hazards”? 

Natural hazards include flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes, snow and ice storms, earthquakes, drought, wildfires, lightning, and natural contamination such as from radon in our homes or drinking water.   There are also human-made hazards such as hazardous materials spills from transporter accidents on our highways or even a heating fuel spill at your home.

What is “Hazard Mitigation”? 

Hazard mitigation includes actions to permanently eliminate or reduce long-term risks to human life and property from natural and human-made hazards. Mitigation actions are taken before a hazard occurs.  An example is cleaning out ditches and culverts before spring rain or increasing the size of the culvert to accommodate the spring rains.

What is “Emergency Management”?

An emergency is an unplanned event that can threaten our well being.  Emergency Management is being prepared for an emergency to remain safe.  Municipalities create emergency management plans so municipal personnel know who will be responsible for different tasks during an emergency such as a flood, major wind event, wildfire, or hazardous material spill on the highway.

What Can I Do?

Make a Plan 

Does your family know what to do, how to communicate, and where to go in case of an emergency?  Having an emergency plan is the first step in being prepared.  Make a plan for people, pets and property.  Don’t forget loved ones across the country will want to know how you are?  Do you know where emergency shelters are located in your community?  Do you know if there are evacuation routes in your community that will be cleared first so residents can leave?  Does anyone in your household have special needs such as wheelchair access or oxygen tanks? 

Build a Kit 

A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need during an emergency.  You should assemble this in advance so you can evacuate at a moment’s notice.   Don’t forget medications and food for your pets.  You should have supplies for at least 72 hours.  If you are staying in your home, but you do not have utilities, you will need supplies for this event such as a heat source and lighting. 

Also make an emergency kit for your car including warm clothing and blankets, first aid, flashlight and batteries, cell phone charger, water and food, jumper cables, emergency flares, tool kit, tire and jack & spare tire or instant tire fix-a-flat, chains and ice scraper.

Involve your Children 

Let your children be part of the planning process so they are more likely to remember what to do.  They also may know more about their school schedule than you!

Prepare at Your Business 

Your home is not the only place that can be impacted by a hazard.  Create a preparedness plan for the business and employees.  If you have livestock, think about what needs to be done for them.

Preparing Your Home

  • Prepare for power outages.  Have a plan and supplies needed to stay warm.
  • Consider purchasing a generator, especially if you or a member of your family relies on electricity for medical equipment.  Strictly adhere to safety requirements.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed.  Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased or damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so the wind can blow through.  Strong winds frequently break weak limbs and hurl them at great distance.
  • Winterize your house or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock, or equipment.  Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Consider purchasing one or more pumps to remove water in and around your home during heavy rains or flooding.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Prepare for your pets.  If you cannot bring them indoors, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to water that is not frozen.

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