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National Preparedness Month: Stay or Go?

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the attack, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is immediate danger.

In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should monitor TV or radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available. If you're specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

STAYING PUT
Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside.

There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "sealing the room," is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

The process used to seal the room is considered a temporary protective measure to create a barrier between you and potentially contaminated air outside. It is a type of sheltering in place that requires preplanning.

To "Shelter in Place and Seal the Room"
•Bring your family and pets inside.
•Lock doors, close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers.
•Turn off fans, air conditioning and forced air heating systems.
•Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
•Go into an interior room with few windows, if possible.
•Seal all windows, doors and air vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Consider measuring and cutting the sheeting in advance to save time.
•Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to seal gaps so that you create a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
•Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
Learn how and when to turn off utilities:
If there is damage to your home or you are instructed to turn off your utilities:

•Locate the electric, gas and water shut-off valves.
•Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
•Teach family members how to turn off utilities.
•If you turn the gas off, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this yourself.

EVACUATING
There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away, or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Plan how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.

Create an evacuation plan:
•Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
•If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
•Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
•If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to.
•Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
•Lock the door behind you.
•Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.
If time allows:
◦Call or email the "out-of-state" contact in your family communications plan.
◦Tell them where you are going.
◦If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
◦Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
◦Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

For additional information, and to sign up to receive information in the event of an emergency in Orange County, visit www.readyoc.org