- What can be done to reduce dangers in the home?
A home hazard assessment should be done. Emergency Management professionals work on ways to reduce the danger from known hazards. This is called hazard mitigation and you can do the same thing in your home. Look for obvious hazards, such as tree branches too close to power lines or dry brush near the house. In a windstorm, those branches may come down and take your power lines with them. Brush can create a fire hazard during dry years.
You should also be aware of known hazards in your neighborhood. Is there a highway on which hazardous chemicals are transported? Are you located in a floodplain or near a stream that might flood? Look for any natural or manmade structure which could cause danger during extreme weather or in the event of an accident. You should have a plan to escape or otherwise protect yourself.
- In an emergency situation, when is it safer to stay indoors?
Here are some other situations where you will most likely be safer inside your house than outside:
Thunderstorms, Tornados or Other High Wind Events
When a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning is announced, seek shelter in the lowest portion of your house. Basements are best! If your house does not have a basement, pre-select an interior room on the lowest floor. Bathrooms and closets are good choices because of the close framing. Avoid rooms with windows! Note: Do not waste time closing windows!
- If power goes off, what should I do?
Most disasters in New Hampshire are weather-related and typically involve the loss of commercial power. Being out of power for a few hours is more of an inconvenience than a disaster, but a prolonged power outage or one which occurs during severe winter weather could force you out of your home and into a shelter.
The ideal situation for homeowners is to have a secondary source of heat which does not require electricity or a generator to provide power. A secondary heat source might be a fireplace or wood or gas stove. If you decide to invest in a generator, be sure a qualified electrician installs it and never operate the generator in an enclosed area, such as a garage. Generators create an inherent carbon monoxide danger and must be properly ventilated.
Also, on the subject of carbon monoxide danger, never use a cooking appliance designed for outdoor use inside. Barbeque grills, whether gas or charcoal, should stay out on the deck or patio. They should never be used indoors.
- What home emergency supplies should I have on hand?
Under most circumstances, a power outage will last only a few hours and not put your family in serious danger. Keeping emergency supplies on hand will make the time pass more comfortably and allow you to respond or call for help in the event something more serious occurs.
Here are emergency supplies that a typical homeowner should stock:
- Flashlight and spare batteries. These are safer than candles. Camping-style lanterns can light a whole room and make it easier to read or play games to keep children entertained.
- A battery-powered radio. Emergency instructions will come from officials via Emergency Alert System broadcasts or newscasts. You will need to know what is going on and radio broadcasts will provide this information.
- A wired telephone plugged directly into the telephone jack in the wall. The telephone system generally works when the power is out because the telephone company has its own power system and battery back-ups. A portable or cordless phone requires an external power source and won't work if the power is out. Cell phones may be overwhelmed with large numbers of calls, restricting your ability to get through.
- Store several gallons of bottled water in a cool part of the house for drinking, cooking, or hand washing if necessary.
- Keep some stored food on hand which can be easily prepared. Most people shop once a week, by definition they will have at least a week's worth of food available. Families should choose the type of "emergency food" which suits their needs and taste. Be sure to have appropriate tools to prepare emergency food. Your electric can opener won't do much good if the power is out, so you'll need at least one manual opener.
In addition, everyone in the family should know how and when to call 911 for emergency assistance. Even young children can learn this. Another good idea is to have a contact out of state, such as family members or close friends. A long-distance point of contact is valuable if family members are scattered or are forced to go to a shelter.
- What should be done during an evacuation?
If a neighborhood becomes too dangerous to remain in, authorities may order an evacuation. When that happens, the Town, in cooperation with Red Cross and state officials, will open a shelter at Moultonborough Academy. You are not required to go to a shelter if you can make your own arrangements. Regardless of where you go when evacuated, take personal supplies and other essential items with you:
- Personal hygiene products
- Eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Prescription medications and prescriptions
- At least one change of seasonally-appropriate clothing
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Cash and credit cards
- Books and Games for Children
Evacuations are not common in New Hampshire. When they occur, it is more likely to be a neighborhood being evacuated because of localized flooding than the kind of mass evacuation of wide areas required because of a hurricane that occurs so frequently in southern states. Nevertheless, everyone should be familiar with evacuation procedures in case of need.
One final point on evacuations and shelters, pets will not be admitted. Only service animals such as seeing-eye dogs are allowed. Pets should be left with a friend or neighbor in an unaffected area with a three-day supply of food and water. Moultonborough is currently working on a plan to shelter animals.
If you have questions about emergency planning for individuals and families, contact the Town of Moultonborough Emergency Management Director at 476-5658 or email the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Management or call 800-852-3792.