Emergency preparedness

A guide to preparing for emergencies

Tips and resources

In a major disaster, it might be several days before vital services are restored.

Knowing what to expect and the steps to take in an emergency is the key to protecting yourself and your family. Disasters can happen anytime and anyplace. When a disaster strikes you may have only a short time to respond or prepare for the consequences. An accidental release of a hazardous chemical could mean a need for sheltering-in-place or an immediate evacuation. A winter storm could confine your family to your home. A flood could cut off basic services in the community; things like gas, water, and electricity for days. The effects of a disaster can be sudden and devastating.


Scroll down the page for tips for making a plan, preparing emergency kits and tips for what to do in the event of various emergencies.


Make a plan  |  Build a kit  |  What to do in the event of...  |  Storm shelters & alert services

Make a plan


Make a Plan

Make a Plan

Household/Family

Household/
Family

Community

Community

Home Safety

Home Safety

Children

Children

Seniors & Disabled

Seniors & Disabled

Get Involved

Get Involved

Pets

Pets

Utilities

Utilities

Alerts & Warnings

Alerts & Warnings

Information

Training Information

 


Make a PlanMake a Plan

After a major disaster, emergency response services may not be available to immediately respond to everyone's needs, so it's important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family. Plan to be on your own for at least the first 72 hours.

The following steps will help you prepare for any emergency:

  • Designate an out-of-area contact person. Try to select someone that is far enough away to not be affected by the same emergency. Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people you want to keep informed of your situation. Instruct family members to call this person and tell them where they are. Long distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.
     
  • Duplicate important documents and keep copies off-site, either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Documents may include: passport, drivers license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license and prescriptions.

  • Inventory valuables, in writing and with photographs or video. Keep copies of this information off-site with your other important documents. 
     
  • Involve all key people in planning. 
     
  • Put together a disaster supply kit. Plan to have supplies for yourself and your family for at least 3 days following a disaster. 
     
  • When planning, consider the special needs of children, seniors and people with functional needs and family members that don't speak English. Don't forget your pets.


Household/FamilyHousehold/Family


Talk with your family about potential disasters and why it's necessary to prepare for them. Involve each member of your family in the planning process. By showing them simple steps that can increase their safety, you can help reduce their anxiety about emergencies.

  • Make sure everyone knows where to find your disaster supply kit and Go Bag as defined in the Build a Kit section. 
     
  • Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone's bed in case there is an earthquake during the night.
     
  • Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate. Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full.
     
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
     
  • Make sure each member of your family knows who your family's out-of-state contact is and instruct them to call this person and tell him/her where they are.
     
  • Locate the gas main and other utilities and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off.
     
  • Practice your evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll drills.
     
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.
     
  • Create emergency response cards for each of your family members.
Take into account the special needs of children, seniors and people with functional needs. Also consider members that don't speak English. Don't forget your pets.


CommunityCommunity


Get to know your neighbors. Find out if anyone has specialized equipment, like a power generator or expertise such as medical knowledge that might help in a crisis. Make arrangements to check on your neighbor's home or pets if you are home, while they are away, when a disaster strikes.


Home SafetyHome Safety


During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. There are simple steps you can take to make your home safer. Start by viewing each room with a "disaster eye" and identify potential hazards - bookshelves that could tip over in an earthquake and block exits or heavy objects that could fall and cause injury.

  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and change batteries every 6 months. 
     
  • Move beds away from windows. 
     
  • Move mirrors and heavy pictures away from couches or places where people sit. 
     
  • Clear hallways and exits for easy evacuation. 
     
  • Store heavy items on the lowest shelves. 
     
  • Keep an ABC type fire extinguisher on each level and know how and when to use it. 
     
  • Strap down your water heater and fit all gas appliances with a flexible gas supply line. 
     
  • Store flammable or highly reactive chemicals (such as bleach, ammonia and paint thinners) securely and separate from each other. 
     
  • Secure pictures and wall hangings and use restraints to secure heavy items such as bookcases and file cabinets. 
     
  • Know how and when to switch off your utilities. 
     
  • Ensure that all window safety bars have emergency releases. 
     
  • Be sure your home number is visible from the street so emergency vehicles can find you.


ChildrenChildren


Plan:

  • Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety. 
     
  • Teach your children their basic personal information so they can identify themselves and get help if they become separated from a parent or guardian. 
     
  • Prepare an emergency card with information for each child, including his/her full name, address, phone number, and parent's work number and out of state contact. 
     
  • Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get to them. 
     
  • Regularly update your child's school with current emergency contact information and persons authorized to pick up your child from school. 
     
  • Make sure each child knows the family's alternate meeting sites if you are separated in a disaster and cannot return to your home. 
     
  • Make sure each child knows how to reach your family's out-of-state contact person. 
     
  • Teach children to dial their home telephone number and Emergency 9-1-1. 
     
  • Teach children what gas smells like and advise them to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency. 
     
  • Warn children never to touch wires on poles or wires that are lying on the ground. 
     
  • Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses such as evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll. 
     
  • Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured. 
     
  • Role-play with children on what to say when calling Emergency 9-1-1. 
     
  • Include a family picture and a favorite toy, game or book for each child in his/her Go Bag as defined in the Build a Kit section. 
     
  • Include your child's emergency card and include information on reunification locations and out-of-area contact. 
     
  • Provide comfort food and treats for each child in your family disaster supplies kit. 
     
  • Keep a recent photo of your children in your Go bag.


Seniors & DisabledSeniors & People with Functional Needs


  • Set up a Personal Support Network: Designate someone to check on you in an emergency and to help with evacuation or sheltering-in-place. 
     
  • Prepare and carry with you an emergency health information card: This will help you to communicate if you are found unconscious or incoherent. Include information about your medications, adaptive equipment, blood type, allergies and sensitivities, insurance numbers, immunization dates, communication difficulties and preferred treatment, as well as contact information for your health providers, personal support network and emergency contacts. 
     
  • Personal Care Assistance: If you receive assistance from a home healthcare agency or in-home support provider, find out how the provider will respond in an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency. 
     
  • For Persons Using a Wheelchair: Plan for how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup. 
     
  • For Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Keep an extra cane by your bed. Attach a whistle; in case you need to attract attention. Exercise caution when moving, paths may have become obstructed. 
     
  • For Persons who are Hearing Impaired: Keep extra batteries for your hearing aids with emergency supplies. Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly after a disaster. 
     
  • For persons with Communication Disabilities: Store paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board and preprinted key phrases in your emergency kit, your wallet, purse, etc.


Get InvolvedGet Involved


There are numerous ways you can get involved to help Rainsville be better prepared for the next emergency. Contact the American Red Cross (local chapter: 256-845-0202) for more information concerning Disaster Preparedness, First Aid and CPR Training.


PetsPets


Plan:

  • Keep a collar, current license and up-to date ID tags on your pet at all times. Consider having your pet micro-chipped. 
     
  • Make sure your pet is comfortable being in a crate, box, cage, or carrier for transport. 
     
  • Keep an updated list of trusted neighbors who could assist your animals in case of an emergency. 
     
  • Tighten and secure latches on birdcages. Fasten down aquariums on low stands or tables.

 
 Kit:

Make a Go bag for each pet. Include:

  • Sturdy leashes and pet carriers. A pillowcase is a good option for transporting cats and other small animals. Muzzles for dogs. Food, drinking water and medicine for at least one week. 
     
  • Non-spill bowls, manual can opener and plastic lid. 
     
  • Plastic bags, litter box and litter. 
     
  • Recent photo of each pet. 
     
  • Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters. 
     
  • Copy of your pet's vaccination history and a list of any medical problems. 
     
  • Portable fencing or baby gates.

Respond

  • Remember that animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs securely leashed and transport cats in carriers or pillowcases. 
     
  • If your pet is lost, contact the nearest animal shelter to report your pet missing.

Evacuation

Locate all your animals and keep them with you. Be aware that shelters will only allow service animals. In a large-scale disaster, animal shelters will be set up when possible.

Animal/pet organizations:

Dekalb County Animal Adoption Center
2601 Jordan Road SW; Fort Payne, AL; (256) 304-0474 | email

Humane Society Animal Resources of Dekalb

Fort Payne, AL; (256) 845-9463 | email

If you must leave your pets behind:

  • Inform animal rescue workers of your pets' status: On your front door or in a highly visible window, use chalk, paint or marker to write the number and types of pets in your residence. Include their location in your home and the date that you evacuated. 
     
  • Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over. 
     
  • Leave plenty of food in timed feeders to prevent your pet from overeating. 
     
  • Do not tie up your pet in your home.

UtilitiesUtilities


Natural gas leaks can cause an explosive and flammable atmosphere inside a building.

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks can cause fires and explosions inside a building.

  • If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect a leak, shut off the main valve and open all windows and doors. 
     
  • Never use candles or matches if you suspect a leak. Do not turn on electrical switches or appliances. 
     
  • Identify the main shutoff valve, located on the gas line coming into the main gas meter. This is usually on the exterior of your home or building, or in an external closet. Your main valve may look like this:

    Main Valve Connection to Gas Meter

  • To turn gas off, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. When the lever crosses the direction of the pipe (see below) the gas is off.

    Gas valve on off

  • Keep a crescent wrench or gas shut-off tool nearby to turn the lever. 
     
  • Never attempt to turn your gas back on. Wait for your utility company to do it. This may take several days. 

     

    OUR NATURAL GAS PROVIDER:
    DeKalb-Cherokee Gas District; 205 Grand Ave North
    (256) 845.3731 or (800) 239-5606
    www.dcgas.org

     
     

Electricity

Electrocution can result from direct contact with live wires or anything that has been energized by these wires.

  • Locate your main electric switch, which is normally in the garage or outdoors. The panel box may have a flip switch or pull handle on a large circuit breaker. 
     
  • Shut off electricity when:
    • Arcing or burning occurs in electrical devices.
    • There is a fire or significant water leak.
    • You smell burning insulation.
    • The area around switches or plugs is blackened and/or hot to the touch.
    • A complete power loss is accompanied by the smell of burning material.

 

OUR POWER PROVIDER:
Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative

(256) 638-2153 or (877) 843-2512
www.smec.coop


Water

Water leaks can cause property damage and create an electrocution hazard.

  • After a major earthquake, shut off your water supply to protect the water in your house. Cracked pipes may allow contaminants into the water supply in your home. 
     
  • The water shutoff is usually located in the basement, garage or where the water line enters the home. The water shutoff is located on a riser pipe and is usually a red or yellow wheel. Turn wheel clockwise to shut off water.

Sewer Service

A disaster that disrupts all or part of the City's water and/or sewer lines could affect the way you deal with human waste.

  • If there is no water in your toilet, but the sewer lines are intact, pour 3-5 gallons of water into the toilet bowl to flush. You may use rainwater, bath and laundry or pool water. 
     
  • If you suspect damage to your home's water lines, do NOT flush the toilet. Turn off water at the house so contaminated water does not enter your water system. 
     
  • If sewer lines are broken, line bowl with double-bagged garbage bags to collect waste. Before discarding, add a small amount of bleach; then seal the bag and place in a tightly covered container, away from people. 
     
  • If the toilet is unusable, use a sturdy bucket with a tight fitting lid, and line it with a double-bagged plastic garbage bag.


InformationTraining Information


If you would like more training related to Emergency Preparedness you should contact the following agencies:



Build a kit


Build a Kit

Build A Kit

Children

Children

Seniors & Disabled

Seniors & Disabled

Pets

Pets

Food

Food

Water

Water

First Aid

First Aid

Go Bad

Go Bag

Phone

Phone

Resources

Resources

Build a KitBuild a Kit


After a major disaster the usual services we take for
granted, such as running water, refrigeration, and telephones, may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily.

Your basic emergency kit should include:

  • Water - one gallon per person per day
  • Food - ready to eat or requiring minimal water
  • Manual can opener and other cooking supplies
  • Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
  • First Aid kit & instructions
  • A copy of important documents & phone numbers
  • Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member.
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Disposable camera
  • Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
  • Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
  • Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows
  • Tools such as a crowbar, hammer & nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
  • Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with functional needs.
  • Don’t forget water and supplies for your pets.

A component of your disaster kit is your Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly. Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.

  • Flashlight
  • Radio - battery operated
  • Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
  • Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
  • Local map
  • Some water and food
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
Any special-needs items for children, seniors and people with functional needs. Don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets.

WaterWater


In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. Store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days.

  • Store one gallon of water per person, per day. Three gallons per person per day will give you enough to drink and for limited cooking and personal hygiene. Remember to plan for pets.

If you store tap water:

  • Tap water from a municipal water system can be safely stored without additional treatment.
  • Store water in food grade plastic containers, such as clean 2-liter soft drink bottles. Heavy duty, reusable plastic water containers are also available at sporting goods stores. Empty milk bottles are not recommended because their lids do not seal well and bottles may develop leaks.
  • Label and store in a cool, dark place.
  • Replace water at least once every six months.

If you buy commercially bottled “spring” or “drinking” water:

  • Keep water in its original container, and don’t re-store a bottle once it’s been opened.
  • Store in a cool, dark place.
  • If bottles are not marked with the manufacturer’s expiration date, label with the date and replace bottles at least once per year.

Treating Water after Disaster:

If you run out of stored drinking water, strain and treat water from your water heater or the toilet reservoir tank (except if you use toilet tank cleaners). Swimming pool or spa water should not be consumed but you can use it for flushing toilets or washing.

Treatment Process:

Strain any large particles of dirt by pouring the water through layers of paper towels or clean cloth. Next, purify the water one of two ways:

  • Boil - bring to a rolling boil and maintain for 3-5 minutes. After the water cools, pour it back and forth between two clean containers to add oxygen back; this will improve its taste.
  • Disinfect - If the water is clear, add 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water. If it is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon. Make sure you are using regular bleach - 5.25% percent sodium hypochlorite - rather than the "ultra" or "color safe" bleaches. Shake or stir, then let stand 30 minutes. A slight chlorine taste and smell is normal.

First AidFirst Aid


In any emergency, you or a family member may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. Keep the following basic first aid supplies so you are prepared to help when someone is hurt.

  • Two pairs of disposable gloves
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic swabs to disinfect
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Scissors
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as Aspirin or other pain reliever, laxative, anti-diarrhea medication
  • Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine, or asthma inhaler
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose monitoring equipment or blood pressure monitors

Go BadGo Bag


A component of your disaster kit is a Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly. Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes so keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.

  • Flashlight
  • Radio - battery operated
  • Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
  • Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
  • Local map
  • Some water and food
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle
  • Any special-needs items for children seniors or people with functional needs. Don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets.

PhonePhone


Plan for how you will communicate with loved ones after a disaster.

  • Long-distance phone lines often work before local phone lines, so identify an out-of-state contact and provide this person with the contact information of people you want to keep informed of your situation. Share this information with your family and friends locally.
  • Avoid making non-urgent phone calls after a disaster - even if phone lines are un-damaged, increased phone traffic can jam phone circuits.
  • Cordless phones or phone systems require electricity; make sure you have a backup phone that requires no electricity.
  • Keep coins in your go-bag. Payphones may work before other phone lines.
  • Don’t count on your cell phone - increased traffic on cell phone networks can quickly overload wireless capacity.
  • Record an outgoing message on your voicemail so that callers can be re-assured of your safety status.
  • Learn how to use text messaging. It uses a different part of the cell phone network and it might be possible to send and receive text messages when voice channels for mobile phones and land lines are jammed.
  • After an earthquake, check all your telephones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook and are tying up a line.


What to do in the event of...


Alerts & Warnings

Earthquake

Flooding

Severe Thunderstorms

Severe
Thunder-
storms

Tornadoes

Intense Heat

Terrorism

Contagious Disease

Contagious Disease

Evacuation

Power Outage
Power Outage

Fire

Fire

Shelter in Place

Shelter in place

Alerts & WarningsAlerts & Warnings


Listen

The Rainsville Police Department or Rainsville Fire Department may try to notify you about a possible hazard by driving through your neighborhood while sounding their vehicle sirens. If you hear the sirens in your neighborhood:
  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Stay calm.
  • Listen for possible voice announcements coming from the emergency vehicles.
  • Turn on the radio or television, there may be important information provided by the city.
  • Avoid using the telephone.
  • Do not call 9-1-1, unless you have a life-threatening emergency.

EarthquakeEarthquake


If you are indoors when shaking starts:

  • "DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON." If you are not near a strong table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Avoid windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances and cabinets filled with heavy objects.
  • Do not try to run out of the structure during strong shaking. .
  • If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head with a pillow.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels and cover your head.

If you are outdoors when shaking starts:

  • Move to a clear area if you can safely walk. Avoid power lines, buildings and trees.
  • If you're driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Avoid stopping under overhead hazards

Once the earthquake shaking stops:

  • Check the people around you for injuries; provide first aid. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger.
  • Check around you for dangerous conditions, such as fires, downed power lines and structure damage.
  • If you have fire extinguishers and are trained to use them, put out small fires immediately.
  • Turn off gas only if you smell gas.
  • Check your phones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook and are tying up a line.
  • Inspect your home for damage.

If you are trapped in debris:

  • Move as little as possible so that you don't kick up dust. Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort.

Storm/FloodingStorm/Flooding


Severe storms can cause flooding, uprooted trees, and downed utility lines. Tune to regional or local TV channels for emergency advisories and instructions.

  • If water has entered a garage or basement, do not walk through it - it may contain hazardous materials.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately. Attempting to move a stalled vehicle in flood conditions can be fatal.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, disconnect all electrical appliances.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Stay clear of water that is in contact with downed power lines.
  • Do not allow children to play around high water, storm drains or any flooded areas.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, shut off electric circuits. If advised by your local utility, shut off gas supply line as well.

Severe ThunderstormsSevere Thunderstorms


When severe weather threatens, do you know what to do?
Here's what you can do to stay safe:

Know the Difference between a 'Watch' and 'Warning'

  • A 'Watch' means that severe weather is possible.. something bad could happen, so keep and eye to the sky and stay close to a source of weather information.
  • A 'Warning' means some kind of severe weather (tornado, severe thunderstorms, flood) has been spotted by someone or detected by radar.. you have to take cover immediately!

Before Lightning is About to Strike

  • Watch the sky for approaching dark clouds, increasing winds, and flashes of light.
  • Listen for thunder.
  • "Lightning is the first thunderstorm hazard to arrive and the last to leave," according to the U.S. National Weather Service. If thunder can be heard, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, and you should take shelter immediately. As always with lightning, is it important to remember: When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Lightning can actually strike outside the storm that produced it. Although most lightning will strike within 10 miles of its parent thunderstorm, it can strike much farther away. On rare occasions, lightning-detection equipment has recorded lightning striking up to 50 miles away from the thunderstorm.
  • Keep up to date on weather forecasts through local TV stations and NOAA Weather Radio.

Steps to Take as a Storm Approaches

  • Seek shelter in a building or vehicle (avoid convertibles). Keep windows closed.
  • Avoid using electrical equipment/appliances, and preferably, unplug things such as televisions, air conditioners, and computers. Electrical lines are excellent conductors of electricity. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
  • Using a phone with a cord during a thunderstorm is not a good idea because an electrical shock may be transmitted along the phone cord to you. In fact, the use of any electrical appliance should be avoided. Talking on a cordless / wireless phone indoors is not considered a high-risk activity, even during an electrical storm. However, using a cell phone outside should be avoided because the metal in the phone may act as a lightning rod.
  • Do not take baths or showers during storms, as water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Use as little water as possible during storms.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows as a precaution to prevent windows shattering into your home, should they be broken by blowing debris.

If You are Caught Outdoors:


  • Attempt to seek shelter in a vehicle or building.
  • If no structure is available, stay as low to the ground as possible. However, avoid sitting or lying down on the ground. Most lightning that injures people strikes the earth and travels through the ground; for this reason, the less contact you have with the ground the better.
  • In the woods, find a group of smaller trees. Avoid standing under single tall trees. Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas.
  • Get as small as you can by crouching on your knees.
  • Remember to avoid tall structures, such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power lines. Also avoid golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, and camping equipment. All are excellent electrical conductors.
  • Stay away from all types of bodies of water. If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, which indicates that lightning is about to strike, drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

Stuck in a Vehicle:

  • Find a safe place on the side of the road and pull over. Make sure there are not any trees that could blow over onto the car.
  • Put on emergency flashers, especially during heavier rains.
  • Remain in the car, only leaving in the case of a flash flood.
  • Watch for possible flash flooding. Should you notice the beginnings of flooding, abandon your vehicle, and seek higher ground immediately.
  • Avoid flooded roadways.

Safety Steps to Take Indoors:

  • Secure outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture, that could blow away or cause damage or injury.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Do not use any electrical equipment or telephones, especially television sets. Lightning could follow the wire into the house, and do extensive damage to electrical equipment, such as air conditioners and TV's. Use telephones ONLY in an emergency.
  • Do not take a bath or shower. Metal pipes can transmit electricity.

If Someone is Struck by Lightning:

  • eople who have been struck by lightning can be cared for safety, and do not carry any type of electrical charge.
  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1.
  • Look for burn marks on the victim's body where the charge both entered and exited. Lightning strikes can also cause neurological damage, broken bones, and loss of sight or hearing.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look for and care for other possible injuries.


TornadoTornadoes


Frequency of Tornadoes

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year.

  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all hours of the day or night.
  • The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph, but may vary from nearly stationary to 200 mph.

What To Listen For

  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in our area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in our area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
    Remember, tornadoes occasionally develop in areas in which a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.

Who's Most At Risk?

  • People in automobiles.
  • The elderly, very young and the physically or mentally impaired.
  • People in mobile homes.
  • People who may not understand the warning due to a language barrier.

Tornado Myths

MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FACT: No terrain feature can prevent the occurrence of a tornado. As recently as April 2011, multiple tornados swept through DeKalb County and Northeast Alabama, leaving a path of destruction throughout our area mountains and water bodies.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to "explode" as the tornado passes overhead.
FACT: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FACT: Opening windows allows damaging wind to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.

Tornado Safety: What You Can Do

Before the Storm:

  • Develop a plan for yourself and your family for home, work, school and when outdoors. Call the Rainsville Police Department for assistance.
  • Have frequent drills.
  • Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and a battery backup to receive warnings.
  • Listen to radio and television for information.
  • If planning a trip outdoors, listen to the latest forecasts and take necessary action if threatening weather is possible.

If a warning is issued or if threatening weather approaches:

  • In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.
  • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
  • If available sit in the tub/shower.
  • Stay away from windows and sit with your back against a wall with your head between your knees while sitting through the storm.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead leave it immediately.
  • If caught outside or in a vehicle, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression.
  • Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.

Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most deaths and injuries.

It's up to you!

Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes despite advance warning. Some did not hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado would actually affect them. The preparedness information in this section combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings could save your life in the event a tornado threatens your area. After you have received the warning or observed threatening skies, YOU must make the decision to seek shelter before the storm arrives. It could be the most important decision you will ever make! Locations for public storm shelters can be found here.


Intense HeatIntense Heat


The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves.

Several factors affect the body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

How to protect against heat-related illness:

  • Slow down, and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Avoid sunburn. Stay in the shade, wear protective clothing, and use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) and ultraviolet type A (UVA) rating.
  • Conserve electricity other than that being used for cooling equipment.
  • If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
  • Dress appropriately:
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that will cover as much skin as possible.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat when outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies.
  • Avoid extremely cold drinks, which can cause cramping.
  • Avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • If you are taking water pills or you limit the amount of fluid you drink on your doctor's orders, ask how much you should drink during hot weather.
  • If you take medications, check with your doctor to see if you need to take extra precautions in extreme heat.
  • If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
  • Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Never leave children, elderly or functional needs adults, or pets alone in closed vehicles.

Protecting your pets from heat emergencies:

Heat stress can cause brain and organ damage in dogs, cats and other pets. Symptoms of heat stress include heavy panting, glaze eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness. If an animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, gradually lower its temperature through these steps:

  • Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to its head, neck and chest, or
  • Immerse the animal in cool (not cold) water.
  • Let the animal drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

TerrorismTerrorism


Terrorism may involve devastating acts using weapons of mass destruction. These weapons range from chemical agents, biological hazards, a radiological or nuclear device, and other explosives. The primary objective of a terrorist is to create widespread fear.

Be Responsible:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Note the location of emergency exits, pay phones, fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Report suspicious objects, vehicles or persons to public safety authorities.

If There Is a Terrorist Attack or Threat:

  • Stay calm.
  • Be vigilant. Look out for secondary hazards such as falling debris, suspicious packages or persons. Report any concerns to public safety authorities.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency service personnel.
  • Avoid spreading rumors - confirm information with a credible source

Contagious DiseaseContagious Disease


A contagious disease emergency could affect many people. It could cause mild illness, hospitalization, or death in rare cases. In the event of an infectious disease emergency, the Alabama Department of Public Health and county officials will provide up-to-date information and instructions to the public through media and public outreach sources.

To find out how to prepare yourself and your family for a contagious disease emergency, contact

DeKalb County Health Department
401 Calvin Drive, Southwest
Fort Payne, Alabama 35967
(256) 845-1931

Alabama Department of Public Health
Montgomery, Alabama
334-206-5300
1-800-ALA-1818


Transit SafetyTransit Safety


Mass transit systems may be vulnerable to both accidents and terrorist incidents. Mass transit customers should be aware and vigilant. Be well informed and know your surroundings.

  • Review emergency exit information on the vehicle.
  • If you see something, say something! Report all suspicious parcels, bags or containers to the nearest police officer or transit employee. Never touch a suspicious object.
  • In the event of an emergency, remain calm and follow the instructions of transit or rescue personnel.
  • Only use cell phones if you absolutely must as they could interfere with emergency equipment.
  • If you're instructed to evacuate, take your belongings.
  • If you are traveling with others, stay together.

EvacuationEvacuation


Immediate risk:

If you smell gas, smoke or see fire or otherwise fear for your safety, evacuate household occupants immediately. From a safe location, call 9-1-1 and report the incident.

General evacuation orders:

If local officials issue evacuation orders, use the evacuation routes and methods specified; carpool whenever possible. If time allows:

  • Wear sturdy shoes, long-sleeve shirts and pants.
  • Bring car keys, credit cards, road maps, cell phone, charger and important phone numbers.
  • Bring your Go Bag
  • If you have a pet, make sure it is wearing a collar, bring it in a pet carrier labeled with your name and the pet's name. Bring your pet's Go-bag.
  • Lock your home and shut off the water and electricity, but leave gas on unless instructed otherwise.
  • Leave a note or tell a neighbor where you are going.
  • Once you arrive at a safe location, call your out-of-area emergency contact.

Disaster Shelters:

Immediately following a large disaster, suitable shelter sites will be selected from a predestinated list based on areas of need and estimated numbers of displaced persons. Each site must be inspected for safety prior to being opened to the public. Therefore, it is not possible to say with advance certainty which sites will actually operate as disaster shelters. As soon as disaster sites have been formally designated, this list will be announced through local media to the public. If it is unsafe to shelter-in-place, and you do not have an alternative, evacuate to a designated emergency shelter.

  • Tell your out-of area-contact where you are going.
  • Take your Go-bag with you to the shelter.
  • Initially, emergency shelters may not be able to provide basic supplies and materials. Consider bringing extra items (e.g. blanket, pillow, air mattress, towel, washcloth, diapers, food and supplies for infants.)
  • Provide for your pet only if service animals are allowed in "human" shelters. If you cannot make other plans for your pets, Animal Care and Control staff will be available at "human" shelters to help with pet sheltering needs.


Power OutagePower Outage

Power cuts can occur due to rolling blackouts, extreme weather conditions, or can accompany other disasters such as earthquakes. If there is no power in your neighborhood:

  • Turn off and unplug appliances and computers. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
  • Avoid using candles, as they are fire hazards.
  • Do not use a gas stove for heating or operate generators indoors (including the garage.) Both could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If a traffic signal is not working, treat it as a stop sign.
  • See the food section to learn about food safety when your refrigerator's power is off.
OUR POWER PROVIDER:
Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative

(256) 638-2153 or (877) 843-2512
www.smec.coop

FireFire


If your smoke alarm goes off or you see a fire:

  • Remain calm and get out.
  • If you see smoke under the door, find another way out.
  • Feel the door with the back of your hand before you open it. If it is hot, find another way out.
  • Drop to the floor to avoid smoke and fumes. Crawl to safety.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, STOP where you are, DROP to the ground and ROLL over and over to smother the flames.
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe location. Stay on the line until the operator hangs up.
  • If you are trapped in a burning building, stay near a window and close to the floor. If possible, signal for help.
  • Do not go back inside the building unless instructed that it is safe to do so.

Shelter in PlaceShelter in Place


One of the instructions you may be given in an emergency is to shelter-in-place. This means you should stay indoors until authorities tell you it is safe or you are told to evacuate.

  • Select a small, interior room, with no or few windows.
  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems. Close the fireplace damper.
  • Bring your family disaster supply kit and make sure the radio is working.
  • Bring your pets.
  • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select (cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency)
  • Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
  • Listen to your radio or television for further instructions or updates.
  • If you are in your car, close windows and turn off vents and air conditioning.

Public storm shelters

Shelter Street Contact info Notes
FEMA shelter at Plainview School 76 Chavies Road, Rainsville Rainsville Police Department: 256.638.2157; Rainsville Fire Department: 256.638.8055 Shelter is only open to the public when school is not in session
Broadway Baptist Church 99 McCurdy Avenue S, Rainsville Church office: 256.638.7372 Entrance to basement (fellowship hall) in rear
First Baptist Church 223 Church Avenue, Rainsville Church office: 256.638.8637 Entrance to basement (fellowship hall) in rear
Rainsville Police Department 42 McCurdy Avenue S, Rainsville Rainsville Police Department: 256.638.2157 Limited accommodations
Upper Sand Mountain Parrish 24474 AL Hwy 35, Sylvania Parrish Office: 256.638.2126; City of Sylvania Police Department: 256.638.2204; City of Sylvania Fire Department: 256.638.1070 Storm Shelter Open daily Mon.-Thurs., 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Sylvania Police/Fire have the key to open the Parrish shelter outside of these hours

Click the fullscreen icon to view a larger version of the map.


Register your private shelter

The City of Rainsville has a free, voluntary program that allows residents who own a personal severe weather shelter in the Rainsville fire jurisdiction to register their shelter with the Fire Department. Shelter registration is part of our effort to be proactive in response to rescue situations that can occur as a result of severe weather. This program will provide rescue personnel valuable time saving location information should a storm shelter exit be blocked by debris or structural damage caused by severe weather. We encourage shelter owners to include an out-of-town accountability contact as part of their personal severe weather plan. This program provides an additional safeguard against being trapped in a shelter. Information contained in the registration form will be maintained by the Fire Department and used by emergency response agencies only in the event of structural damage from severe weather or related incidents. Registration forms may be picked up at and returned to the Rainsville City Hall, Rainsville Police Department or Rainsville Fire Department. Or, you may use one of the following options:


Download a shelter registration form to drop off at Rainsville City Hall, Rainsville Police Department or Rainsville Fire Department.


OR complete and submit the online form.


Sign up for automatic alerts

It is easy to sign up to receive automatic alerts through your phone that will warn you of approaching storms. Two that are commonly used by Rainsville  residents are ALERT DEKALB and BARON SAF-T-NET.