During a Disaster
Disasters can be fast and terrifying like an earthquake, or slow and impending like a river breaching its banks. Either way, what you do during the disaster can affect how quickly you and your family will recover afterwards. Keep the following points in mind.
1. Safety First
If you become another victim to the disaster, you cannot help yourself or your family. Remember: your safety comes first, then your family, then your neighbors and community. Before attempting anything during a disaster, ask yourself if it is safe and if you have had the proper training to carry out the task.
2. Stay Calm
Panic is contagious, especially during a stressful situation like a disaster. On the flip side of that coin, remaining calm and at ease can also influence the reactions of others. Do your best to remain calm and to think through how you are going to react to the situation at hand.
3. Ensure that Your Family (or Coworkers, if at Work) are Aware of the Situation
If you work in a large office you could have a fire in your section of the building and other people in the building may not be aware of the hazard. Keeping your personal safety in mind, try to alert everyone in the building of the disaster; don't assume everyone already knows about it! If you hear of an impending disaster over the radio, television, or NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio, be sure to alert others to take protective action while keeping your personal safety in mind.
4. Listen or Watch for Further Instruction from Emergency Services
As quickly as possible, Emergency Management will get information out to the public using the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and other methods. Some of these methods are:
- NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio will be the primary method Emergency Management will use to get detailed information to the public concerning a disaster. Teton County Emergency Management suggests that every home and business has a NOAA Weather Radio and knows how to operate it.
- Local radio stations 95.3 FM KZJH, 96.9 FM KMTN, 93.3 FM KJAX, 97.7 FM KJHB LP, and 1340 AM KSGT are capable of receiving and distributing EAS alerts. Be advised: you will not receive local EAS alerts over satellite (XM or Sirius) radio! You will need to tune to one of the local AM or FM stations instead. These will be the same EAS alerts issued over NOAA Weather Radio.
- Local television stations through Bresnan Cable and KJWY 2 are another method. Be advised, you will not receive local EAS alerts over satellite television, only over local cable and over-the-air channels. If all you have is satellite, use another option to obtain information. Once again, the EAS alerts issued over the local cable and over-the-air channels will be the same ones issued over NOAA Weather Radio.
- Siren systems throughout the county may be activated to warn of a disaster situation. Since instruction cannot be given through a siren, you will need to turn on your NOAA Weather Radio, AM/FM radio, or television in order to receive further information.
- Emergency vehicles may be sent through neighborhoods activating either their sirens or using their public address systems
5. Follow Any Instructions Given by Emergency Services
If you are advised to prepare for evacuation, do just that. The next alert that you get could be an immediate evacuation order. If asked to evacuate, follow instructions given as to routes to take. Do not vary from these routes since other roads may be damaged and impassable.
If told to shelter in place go to an interior room in your home with the fewest windows and least amount of access to the outside. Shut off your HVAC unit and seal all doors, windows, and vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Be sure to bring your NOAA Weather Radio, AM/FM radio, or television with you so you will know when it is safe to come out. Follow any other instructions given by emergency services. Although you may not understand them at the time, these instructions are being given to protect you and your family.
6. Only Call 911 if it is an Emergency
Do not call 911 just to get information regarding the disaster. The 911 center will be inundated with calls for life-threatening emergencies and will not be able to give you this information. Instead, use one of the information sources above. If there is a threat to life or property, however, do not hesitate to call 911. Keep in mind that there will be many other citizens doing the same thing, so be patient and give the 911 operator all of the information that they request.
7. Lastly, Begin to Implement Your Family's Disaster Plan
If you do not have a disaster plan yet, view this template (PDF). Following your plan, start making calls to your out-of-area contact to let them know your status and location. Also ask them if anyone else has checked-in with them. If it is safe, begin heading to your predetermined meeting place.