Natural Disasters

"When it comes to natural disasters, it has been one of the most devastating decades in history,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. “While some of these natural disasters were predictable, some took everyone by surprise. The first 72 hours after a disaster can mean the difference between life and death.”

The Doctors has joined forces with Ready America, FEMA, the California Department of Conservation, the American Red Cross, Reed Timmer, meteorologist and star of the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers, and Dave Price, weather anchor from CBS’ The Early Show, to compile the following safety checklists that could save your life during a natural disaster. 

Earthquake Safety

If You're Inside:
• Stay there.
• Get under -- and hold onto -- a desk or table, or stand against an interior wall.
• Stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture, fireplaces and appliances. The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot.
• If you're in an office building, stay away from windows and outside walls.
• Do not use the elevator.

If You're Outdoors:
• Get into an open area.
• Stay clear of buildings, power lines or anything else that could fall on you.
• If you're in a mountainous area, beware of potential for landslides.
• If you're near the ocean, beware of potential tsunamis and move to higher ground.

If You're Driving:
• Try to get out of traffic and bring your car to a stop.
• Avoid parking under or on bridges or overpasses, because they may collapse.
• Try to get clear of trees, light posts, signs and power lines.
• When you resume driving, beware of road hazards caused by debris and downed power lines.

If You're in a Crowded Public Place:
• Avoid panicking, and do not rush for exit.
• Stay low and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms. 

Earthquake Preparedness Tips
• Secure heavy items of furniture in your home using flexible nylon straps with peel and press application.
• Store emergency tools in an easily accessible location, including a gas shut-off wrench and safety light sticks.
• Prepare emergency supplies (food, water, blankets) and First Aid kits, including prescription medications.
• Be prepared to turn off gas, water and electricity in case lines are damaged. Know the safe spots in every room of your home, be they under sturdy tables, desks or against inside walls. Be aware of danger spots, such as windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall furniture.
• Create a disaster preparedness plan so that everyone in the family will know what to do in case of emergency.
• Decide where your family will reunite if separated, and choose a designated out-of-state friend or relative to whom family members can call to report their whereabouts and conditions. 

Hurricane Safety
• Secure your home by closing shutters, windows and doors. For best protection, install permanent storm shutters over windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape will not prevent windows from breaking.
• To reduce the risk of roof damage, install straps or additional clips to securely fasten the roof to the house’s frame structure.
• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
• Consider creating a safety shelter in your home.
• Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
• Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
• Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed. Turn off propane tanks.
• Before the storm approaches, fill the bathtub and other large containers with clean water so that you have a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. 

Tornado Safety

1. If You're in a Frame House:
• Seek shelter in the lowest level of the home, such as the basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an inner hallway, a smaller inner room or a closet. Keep away from all windows.
• You can cushion yourself with a mattress, but do not use one to cover yourself. Don't waste time moving mattresses around.
• Cover your head and eyes with a blanket or jacket to protect against flying debris and broken glass.
• Keep your pet on a leash or in a carrier.
• Do not leave a building to attempt to escape a tornado.
• Make sure you have a portable radio, preferably a NOAA weather radio, with an extra supply of batteries. This will allow you to tune in for emergency information.
• If you are in a mobile home, leave immediately and take shelter elsewhere.

2. If You're Outside:
• Try to get inside and seek a small, protected space with no windows.
• Avoid large-span roof areas such as school gymnasiums, arenas or shopping malls.
• If you cannot get inside, crouch for protection beside a strong structure, or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck with your arms or a piece of clothing.

3. If You're in a Car:
• Seek cover in a basement, shelter or sturdy building.
• If you cannot get to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to closest sturdy shelter.
• If there is flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
• Stay in the car with your seat belt on.
• Put your head down below the windows, and cover yourself with your hands and a blanket, if possible.
• If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. 

Severe Winter Storm Safety
• Eat regularly and drink ample fluids; avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack - a major cause of death in the winter.
• If you must shovel snow or go outside, stretch first and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, wear mittens and a hat (preferably one that covers ears) and wear waterproof, insulated boots to keep your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected annually.
• Run water, even a trickle, to help prevent pipes from freezing.
• All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear of debris and clutter.
• Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.

Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If a blizzard traps you in your car, keep these guidelines in mind:

• Pull off of the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window. Remain in your vehicle, where rescuers are most likely to find you.
• Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window slightly for ventilation; this will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
• Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs – the use of lights, heat and radio – with supply.
• If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or S.O.S. and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane. 

Emergency Survival Kit
Experts, such as 72-Hours.Org, recommend that you create an emergency survival kit with enough supplies to keep you self-sufficient for at least three days. Put the supplies listed below in a large, watertight container and store it in an easily accessible location.

Your basic emergency kit should include:

• Water – one gallon per person per day
• Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water for preparation
• Manual can opener and other cooking supplies
• Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
• First Aid kit and instructions
• A copy of important documents and phone numbers
• Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member
• Heavy work gloves
• Disposable camera to document home damage
• Household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
• Personal hygiene items, such as toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
• Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife to cover broken windows
• Tools, such as a crowbar, hammer and nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords
• Blanket or sleeping bag
• Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
• Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities
• Water, food and supplies for your pets
Another component of an emergency kit is a Grab-and-Go bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or an easy-to-carry container, in case you must evacuate quickly.

Grab-and-Go Bags should include:
• Flashlight
• Battery-operated radio
• Batteries
• Whistle
• Dust mask
• Pocket knife
• Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
• Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes and a warm hat
• Local map
• Water and food
• Permanent marker, paper and tape
• Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
• List of emergency and point-of-contact phone numbers
• List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
• Copy of health insurance and identification cards
• Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
• Prescription medications and first aid supplies
• Toothbrush and toothpaste
• Extra keys to your house and vehicle
• Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities
• Food and supplies for your pet

Download the entire list.