Emergency Preparedness Guide

Emergency Operations Plan / Personal Planning

In the event of a town-wide emergency, additional police, fire and other staff will be called to duty to help ensure public safety. Local public health, medical, hospital, transportation, school, and volunteer organizations will also be called upon to assist. The Bristol-Burlington Health District also expects to recruit and train more than 250 community volunteers to help out in the event of an emergency like smallpox or influenza.

Area radio and TV stations will broadcast up to date information and instructions to residents on WTIC (1080 AM); WDRC (1360 AM) and Channel 5, Nutmeg Community TV. If the emergency requires you to evacuate, or leave your home or apartment, these stations will have instructions on where to go and what to bring. For certain emergencies you may be told to go to an emergency shelter. Chippen’s Hill Middle School and Bristol Central High School are Bristol’s primary emergency shelters. Burlington residents use town hall. In certain situations, however, staying in your home, at your job site, or with a neighbor will be the best thing to do. Town leaders will provide information to help you make the right decision.

Natural disasters can happen anytime, to anyone.  When a sudden disaster strikes, you may not have time to prepare.  Town officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.  Knowing what to do is your best protection.  Careful planning helps ensure you’ll have what you need to get through an emergency.

Find out what types of natural disasters are most likely to happen and create a disaster plan.  Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for a disaster. In Bristol and Burlington, we face hurricanes in the fall, strong winter storms, great heat and potential power failures in the summer. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.  Be sure to practice and maintain your plan every six months.

Your ability to react to a town-wide emergency, and to care for yourself and your family during such an event or disaster, will depend upon advance planning and preparation that includes time for practice. It’s important that the plan includes everyone you might be responsible for in the event of an emergency.

Once you have created your Disaster Kit, you should select a room in your home in which the entire family can live for an extended period of time, perhaps several days. Your Disaster Kit contents should be in one easy-to-carry container like a trash can, backpack or other carrying piece and stored in an easy-to-get-to place in your home or apartment. If you own a car, keep a smaller version of the kit there as well. Date food, water, and medication. Chanqe these supplies every six months.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor about storing medicine for family members who are ill or elderly. In the event of a personal emergency call: 9-1-1.

It’s important to avoid downed power lines outside and shut off all appliances – stoves, refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.

Depending upon how much and the type of food you have in your refrigerator, most of it will stay cold for a day or two if you keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Please keep in mind that you should not refreeze food that has thawed out once the power returns.

If you have an electric pump for water, it will not work and gas appliances may not operate if they use any electricity. Be sure to contact a licensed electrician in advance if you plan to use a portable generator during an emergency. Do not use kerosene heaters except in well-ventilated rooms and NEVER USE GAS OVENS AS HEAT SOURCES. Contact Northeast Utilities for information on using emergency generators and other facts about power outages: 1-800-286-2000       .

Inspect your home, both indoors and outdoors, at least once a year and fix potential hazards. Dead or rotting trees and branches can fall to wind or ice and cause injury, damage to your home and power outages.  Be sure to prune trees regularly to reduce this threat of destruction and injury.

Prepare emergency supplies.  Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your family’s needs for one week.  Store these supplies in sturdy, easy to carry containers, such as duffel bags.  Include the following items in your emergency supply bag.

  • Flashlight
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Emergency food and water (one week supply per person)
  • Essential prescription medicines (one week supply)
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Extra blankets
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash and credit card
  • Extra pair of clothes and shoes (per person)
  • Extra pair of eye glasses

If a disaster strikes remain calm and patient.  Put your plan into action! Use this checklist to help organize your plan:

  • An emergency communication plan – select an out-of-town contact each family member will check in with either by phone or email; practice your plan and up-date it every six months
  • A meeting place to come together that is away from your home, in case you can’t go to your home during the emergency
  • Maintaining a full tank of gas in the family’s car(s) and/or an updated bus schedule
  • Maintaining a current list of pharmacy phone numbers and medications taken by family members
  • A family “disaster kit” with sufficient food, clothing, and safety items for each person for up to five days (please see page 5 for a detailed list of items to include)

Create a Disaster Kit

It’s important that each family or individual have a “disaster kit” made up before an emergency arises, especially since you may not have electricity, water, heat, telephone service, or public transportation. Items to include are:

  • bottled water in plastic containers (estimate one gallon, or 64 ounces of water per person/per day; you may need more if you are caring for pets)
  • canned and packaged foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking like dried
    fruit or meats, boxed juices, peanut butter, crackers, protein bars, trail mix, ready to eat soups, canned beans, powdered milk
  • first-aid supplies (bandages, tweezers, thermometer, safety pins, soap, rubber
    gloves, waterless soap, over-the-counter medicines, e.g., aspirins, cough syrups, antacids; at least a week’s supply of prescription medications)
  • household supplies (non-electric can opener, bedding and blankets, toilet paper,
    eating utensils, books, magazines, aluminum foil, extra set of car keys, garbage bags, battery-operated radio)
  • tools (batteries, hammer, scissors, flashlights, smoke detectors, fire extinguisher,
    pliers, compass, water-proof matches, plastic storage containers, flares, pens,
    pencils, plastic sheeting, candles, whistle, duct tape, signal flares, local map)
  • one or two complete changes of clothing per person (comfortable and sturdy
    shoes or boots, socks, pants, rain gear, hats and gloves, thermal underwear and sunglasses)
  • important papers – wills, insurance policies, passports, immunization records, phone numbers, credit cards, social security cards and a list of all family members names, date of birth, medical conditions and medications (to bring with you to the mass clinic) – should be kept in the “disaster kit” in a water-tight container
  • if you have an infant, store formula, diapers, plastic bottles, powdered milk, water and medication
  • if you have a pet, store dry or canned foods, water, an airline pet carrier for each animal with ID (if appropriate), photo, vaccination record, special needs list and amuzzle/leash. The Connecticut Humane Society at: 860-594-4502 has more information on emergency plans for pets.

Terrorism

The American public now faces the specter of terrorist activity at home.  It is hard to prepare for all eventualities, but if one thinks of the results of a terrorist act as a disaster like many others, then following the advice on this page will go a long way toward preparing you and your family for the eventuality. Additional information can be found the web site of the American Red Cross.

Emergency Preparedness Program

The Bristol/Burlington Health District maintains a confidential list of homebound residents.  These individuals have special evacuation needs or are dependent on electricity, and lack a local support system.  Intervention by the Health District occurs during emergencies as the need arises.

Storm Emergencies

Storm emergencies include floods, thunderstorms, hurricanes and winter storms. Timely preparation can avert heavy personal, business and government losses.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are powerful storms that form at sea with wind speeds of 74 mph or greater in late summer and fall.  They can be very dangerous. While nothing can be done to stop hurricanes, actions can be taken to help maintain your health and safety.

Planning ahead

  • Plan an evacuation route
  • Learn safe routes inland
  • Make arrangements for pets (most shelters do not allow pets)
  • Protect your windows
  • Trim back dead and weak branches from trees
  • Check into flood insurance
  • Store canned food and bottled water
  • Prepare emergency supplies (battery-operated radios and flashlights, blankets, etc.)
  • Secure bookcases, water heaters, oxygen tanks, etc. to walls
  • Hang pictures, mirrors and plants away from beds and couches.
  • Tie down trash cans, lawn furniture or other loose items outside, or bring them indoors.

 

Thunderstorms

Some thunderstorms can be seen approaching, while others hit without warning.  Learn to recognize the danger signs of a thunderstorm (dark, towering, or threatening clouds and distant lightning and thunder).  Check your yard for hazards and listen to local TV or radio stations for emergency information.  Be prepared and always have disaster supplies on hand.
When a thunderstorm strikes:

  • Stay inside away from windows, water and faucets.
  • Use the phone only for emergencies.
  • Make sure family members know how to respond after a thunderstorm.

Power Outages

Power outages can be very frustrating, especially when they are prolonged.  Generators are often used during power outages.  It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines:

  • Use and maintain generators properly.
  • Always refuel generators outdoors.
  • Use the appropriate sized and type power cords to carry the electric load.
  • Never run cords under rugs or carpets where heat might build up or damage to a cord may go unnoticed.
  • Never connect generators to another power source such as power lines.
  • If power lines are lying on the ground or dangling near the ground, do not touch the lines.  Notify your utility company as soon as possible.

Water Quality

  • Listen to public announcements on the safety of the municipal water quality.
  • Private water wells will need to be tested and disinfected after floodwaters recede.
  • Safe drinking water includes bottled, boiled or treated water.

Food Safety

  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.  Undamaged, commercially canned foods can be saved if you remove the can labels, thoroughly wash the cans, and then disinfect them with a solution consisting of bleach and water.
  • Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more or any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.  Your refrigerator will keep foods cool for about 4 hours without power if it is unopened.

Proper Hygiene

  • Practice basic hygiene during the emergency period.  Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.

Winter Storms

A major winter storm can be extremely dangerous, particularly when it is accompanied by prolonged electric power outages.  Preparing for cold weather conditions with no electric power and responding to them effectively can reduce the dangers caused by winter storms.

  • Store drinking water, first aid kit, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in the dark.
  • Have an emergency survival kit ready to go if told to evacuate.  Include a change of clothes, flashlight, batteries, money, first aid kit, and essential prescription medicines (make sure medications are carefully labeled).
  • Keep vehicles fueled and in good repair, with a winter emergency kit inside.
  • Listen to the local weather stations for information and emergency instructions.
  • Both Burlington and Bristol will open emergency shelters should evacuations be needed.
  • Know safe routes from home, work and school to high ground.
  • Know how to contact other family members in case of evacuation.
  • Winterize your house, barn or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, friends, and domestic animals.  Install storm shutters, doors and windows.
  • Have snow removal equipment and rock salt on hand to melt ice on walkways.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
  • Install and check smoke detectors.
  • Keep pipes from freezing by wrapping pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers.  Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture.
  • Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing
    Prevent injuries when clearing snow and ice
  • Dress warmly
  • Avoid shoveling snow if you are out of shape
  • Do light warm-up exercises before shoveling and take frequent breaks
  • If possible, push snow in front of you.  If you have to lift it, pick up small amounts and lift with your legs.
  • Don’t drink alcohol before shoveling snow
  • Use rock salt to remove ice from steps, walkways, and sidewalks
  • CDC Winter Weather Page

Winter Driving

The leading cause of death during winter storms is transportation accidents.  The key to safe winter driving is preparing your vehicle for the winter season and knowing how to react if stranded on the road.
Before bad weather arrives, have your car tuned up.  Check the level of antifreeze, make sure the battery is good, and check your tire tread or put on snow tires.  Keep emergency gear in your car:

  • Ice scraper
  • At least a half tank of gas
  • Canned food and bottled water
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Blankets
  • Small shovel
  • Booster cables
  • Extra set of mittens, socks and a wool cap
  • Rain gear

Avoid driving in inclement weather.  If you must travel in bad weather, drive slowly and let someone know what route you’re taking and when you plan to arrive.

Fire Emergencies

People over the age of 65 face the greatest risk of dying in a fire.  Decreased mobility, health and sight may limit a person’s ability to respond quickly during a fire emergency.  Older adults and caregivers need to know that there are special precautions one can take to protect themselves and home from fire.

  • Turn the stove off when you leave the cooking area.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms.  Smoke alarms should be installed on each level of your home and outside all sleeping areas.  Test alarms monthly and replace batteries once a year.
  • Plan your escape.  Know at least two exits from every room.  Make any accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways to facilitate an emergency escape.
  • Be fire-safe around the home.  Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords.  If you smoke, never smoke in bed or near flammable objects.  Properly maintain chimneys and space heaters.

US Fire Administration page