Click any of the topics below to learn more about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.
Emergencies can happen anywhere at anytime. Would you know what to do if you or a loved one needed help? Here's a quick checklist to see if you and your home are safe
- Keep a well-stocked first aid kit. Store medication in a locked cabinet so kids can't access it. Keep cleaning agents and dangerous chemicals out of reach. Keep all substances in their original containers.
- Fire extinguishers are affordable. Keep one near the furnace, in the garage, and anywhere else a fire may start. Make sure everyone knows how to use them.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended or sleep while a candle is burning.
- Space heaters can be dangerous if not used correctly. Make sure yours will shut off if accidentally tipped over.
- Install smoke, gas and carbon monoxide detectors outside each sleeping area in your home, and change batteries regularly.
- Make sure family members know how to shut off utilities, and post the phone numbers for gas, water and electricity providers.
- Create and practice a home emergency/escape plan. Determine a meeting place where your family can go if forced to leave the home; post a note on your door telling others the date and time you left, and where you’re going.
- Keep a bag stocked with cash, nonperishable food and water (3 days' worth for each family member), battery-powered radio, flashlight, first-aid kit, extra eyeglasses and prescription drugs, change of clothes and sturdy shoes, keys, pet supplies, and blanket or sleeping bag. Make sure all family members know where the bag is kept.
- Keep a radio, blanket, flashlight, first-aid kit, and fresh batteries in every vehicle.
- Keep a phone list of emergency contacts in your vehicle and wallet or purse. Children should know their street address and last name, and how to dial 911.
Call Your Emergency Management Office or American Red Cross Chapter Find out which disasters could occur in your area. Ask how to prepare for each disaster. Ask how you would be warned of an emergency. Learn your community's evacuation routes. Ask about special assistance for elderly or disabled persons. Ask your workplace about emergency plans. Learn about emergency plans for your children's school or day care center.
Create An Emergency Plan Meet with household members
Discuss with children the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes, and other emergencies. Discuss how to respond to each disaster that could occur. Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries. Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room. Learn how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main switches. Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones. Teach children how and when to call 911, police, and fire. Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information. Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster (it is often easier to call out-of-state than within the affected area). Prepare a kit with extra: food, water, medications, money, blankets, clothes, flashlights and batteries.
Tornados... Cause an average of 70 fatalities and 1,500 injuries . Produce wind speeds in excess of 250 mph. Can be one mile wide and stay on the ground over 50 miles. Lightning... Causes an average of 80 fatalities and 300 injuries each year. Occurs with all thunderstorms. Strong Winds... Can exceed 100 mph. Can cause damage equal to a tornado. Can be extremely dangerous to aviation. Flash Flooding... Is the #1 cause of deaths associated with thunderstorms...more than 140 fatalities each year. Hail... Causes more than $1 billion in crop and property damage each year. The National Weather Service office in Northern Indiana is responsible for forecasts, watches and warnings in our area. You should know what to do if severe weather approaches the Lima area. You and your family should have a plan of action prior to storms approaching. One thing you should do is form a Family Tornado plan. Pick a place where family members could gather if a tornado is headed your way. It could be your basement or, if there is no basement, a center hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place uncluttered. If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building Stay Tuned for Storm Warnings Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information.
Know what a tornado WATCH and WARNING means: A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. A tornado WARNING means a tornado has been sighted and may be headed for your area. Go to safety immediately. Tornado WATCHES and WARNINGS are issued by county or parish. When a Tornado WATCH Is Issued... If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above). After the Tornado Passes... Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area. Listen to the radio for information and instructions. Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage. Do not use candles at any time.
Carbon Monoxide Safety
Understanding the Risk
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure. CO gas can come from several sources: gas-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces and motor vehicles.
WHAT ACTIONS DO I TAKE IF MY CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM GOES OFF?
Silence the alarm. Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace). Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows. Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.
If illness is a factor: Evacuate all occupants immediately. Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms. Call your local emergency number and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill. Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative. Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO. When in Doubt, contact Shawnee Twp. Fire Department (419)991-4055 (EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBER)
PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FROM CO POISONING
Install at least one UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present. Have a qualified professional check all fuel burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems at least once a year. Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage. Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious fire hazard. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds. Most trees sold in the Allen County have been cut out of the state and have been drying out since they were harvested, which could have been as late as mid-November. Take special precautions when buying your Christmas tree. Trees with brown shedding needles should be rejected. If the tree looks green and fresh, take a long needle and bend it between your thumb and forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is too dry. Look for trees with needles that bend. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is dry. When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water. Make checkerboard cuts into the base at different angles to make a greater surface for water absorption. Check the water level in your tree stand daily. Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave your home. A short circuit in any of this equipment could cause a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Damaged insulation in lighting on a metallic tree could cause the entire tree to be charged with electricity. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a metal tree, never fastened onto it. Keep children away from light sets and electrical decorations. All lights present the problem of shock and casualty hazards for curious kids. When you are stringing the lights on your tree, be careful how you place them. Keep all bulbs turned away from gifts and paper ornaments. Lights in windows can cause curtains and drapes to ignite.
Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they are still a direct source of fire in your home. Keep candles a safe distance from other things. And remember that a flickering flame is a thing of fascination to little children. Keep candles out of their reach. Never use lighted candles on a tree, near other evergreens, or ANY other flammable material (curtains, wallpaper, or decorations). Always use non-flammable holders. Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper. Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over. NEVER leave candles burning unattended (while you are out of the house, OR asleep). Make sure all smoke detectors and CO detectors are operational.
Dispose of gift wrappings soon after opening presents. A room full of paper lying around on the floor is just one more holiday hazard. Place trash in an approved container. Do not burn wrappings in the fireplace. They may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.
One of the best Christmas gifts you can get someone is a smoke detector. A smoke detector is worth so much, possibly a loved one’s life, yet so inexpensive. Over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in residential dwellings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are asleep. Smoke detectors alert occupants when a fire is still small and there is still time to escape.
Holly and mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller the child, the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical problems. Poinsettia leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can cause a skin rash and an upset stomach, but can be fatal to some animals if ingested. Call 911 if your children ingest any of these holiday plants.
Trimming The Tree
When choosing the finishing touches for decorating your tree, purchase tinsel or artificial icicles of a non-leaded material. Leaded materials may be hazardous if eaten by children or pets. Avoid any decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges. Keep tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the reach of your child. These pieces may be swallowed.
Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the UL label from Underwriters Laboratories or another reputable testing agency. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside, nor outdoor lights inside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.