Following a Disaster
Disasters pose many challenges to both individuals and communities. After a disaster strikes there can be injured people, damaged property, and a loss of essential services. Keep the following in mind during the period following a disaster.
Remember, if you become injured, you are now part of the problem and not part of the solution. Keep your personal safety in mind at all times, then that of your family, then your neighbors. If a building appears to have been significantly damaged, get out before attempting to help others. Attempt to flag down emergency services for help instead of entering a damaged building.
If you become trapped in that same building, no one may know that anyone is in there. Never enter a burning building. You can be easily overcome by smoke before you can even have a chance to help anyone inside. Instead, note where people were last known to be in the building and watch windows for signs of survivors. You can give this information to arriving emergency services so they can more quickly provide help to those in need.
Panic is contagious, but so is a level head and a calm voice. Lead by example, take a deep breath, and approach the situation using common sense.
Account for Your Immediate Family (or Coworkers if at Work)
Try to account for people that you know were in the the area prior to the disaster. If you cannot locate someone, document it so that when emergency services arrive you can make them aware that someone is missing. If you find family members / coworkers that are injured and unable to move, leave them where they are. If the area is safe, stay with them until help arrives and provide any first aid if necessary.
If there is an immediate threat to a trapped victim's life (such as a fire or threat of roof collapse), obtain the help of others to move the victim to a safe area. Remember to keep your safety in mind at all times; if you cannot move the victim, leave them and evacuate yourself to a safe area so that you can notify emergency services when they arrive of the victim's location.
Listen or Watch for Further Information & Instruction
Teton County Emergency Management will broadcast information and instructions following a disaster utilizing local media and the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Some of the information sources you should check following a disaster include, NOAA Weather/All-Hazards Radio, local radio stations 95.3 FM and 96.9 FM and local cable television channel 13.
Follow Instructions Given by Emergency Services
If you haven't been ordered to evacuate and your current location is safe, stay where you are. This will keep roads open for emergency vehicles and responders. If you have been told to evacuate, follow the routes given and do not vary from them. Remember to take your NOAA Weather Radio, AM/FM radio, or television with you into your shelter and your 72-hour kit.
Stay Off of the Phone Lines as much as Possible
Phone lines easily become jammed following a disaster. Only call 911 if there is a threat to life or property. Do not make unnecessary local calls, and try to only call your predetermined out-of-area family contact. This ensures that phone circuits will be available to emergency services and those that need immediate help.
For more information, visit Ready.gov's Recover from Disaster website and the American Red Cross' Recover After a Disaster website.