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Disaster Safety

After a disaster, it is important to have safety at the forefront of your mind to help prevent a second disaster or issue. These are the most common disasters that may affect you or your family during a disaster. We encourage you to have a plan for each threat. For information on plans and building a kit, Click Preparation and Safety.

A Few Quick Steps When Dealing With Disasters


Water Treatment

In addition to having a bad odor, and taste, water from questionable sources may be contaminated by a variety of microorganisms. Listen to officials for guidance and to see if a boil water notice has been issued. Bottled water or boiling water may be advised for a time. You may also want to treat water with a filter (coffee filter, or cotton cloth), using a commercial water filter, and purify water (unscented Bleach 8 drops to 1 gallon and let sit for 30 min, or Chlorine Dioxide which is iodine and chlorine free and does not discolor or make the water taste funny). For a printable page on how to do this Click Here

Food Safety

Perishable foods should not be held above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours or above 90 degrees for 1 hour. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Also throw away food if it has an unusual odor, color, texture, or if it comes in contact with flood waters. Disinfect canned foods or waterproof items.


The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide, electric shock, and fire. You must follow the directions supplied with the generator. People die in incidents related to portable generator use every year. Be sure to place the generator away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come inside. Remember to turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Also, check that extension cords are free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.

Under no circumstances should portable generators be used indoors, including inside a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or other enclosed or partially enclosed area, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide buildup. The Carbon monoxide from generators can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to carbon monoxide because it cannot be seen or smelled. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY.

Chemical Emergency
  1. Go Inside Immediately- Seek the nearest enclosed structure, whether a house, business, or garage. 
  2. Close Up -  Close all doors, windows, and other sources of outside air. Air conditioning or heating also.
  3. Stay Informed- Watch tv or listen to the radio. Do not call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency. Officials may try to send a message through your phone. Return home or only when authorities say it is safe.

For more details instructions see: Shelter in Place or Hazmat

Electrical Emergency

What to Do:

  1. If you see or suspect a downed power line, stay at least 20 feet away. Keep children and pets away as well.

  2. Call your local fire paid or volunteer department, Alabama Power at 1-800-888-2726 or Black Warrior Electric at 1-855-462-9362

Use Extreme Caution

  • Never assume a wire is not dangerous, even if it is lying still.

  • Never cross the yellow barrier tape that may be around downed power lines.

  • Exercise extreme caution near metal fences after severe weather, even if there are no downed power lines in sight. Electric currents will be strongest where a downed wire is touching the metal fence, but even a connecting fence several backyards away can be energized and dangerous

  • Never touch a person who is being shocked.

  • Never throw water on an electrical fire.

What to Do If a Power Line Is on Your Vehicle

  1. Call for help to 911.

  2. Stay in the vehicle and wait.

  3. If you must get out of the vehicle because of fire or other danger, jump clear of the vehicle. Be sure not to touch your vehicle and the ground at the same time.

Natural Gas Emergency or Gas Leak

If You Smell or Suspect a Natural Gas Leak:

  1. Leave the area immediately.
  2. Go to an outside location where you can no longer smell natural gas.
  3. Call your local fire department, gas company or 911

Until you get away from the area do not:

  • Use matches, vapes, or lighters (avoid all open flames)
  • Use any electrical device, including appliances, doorbells, and garage door openers
  • Use any phones, including cellular phones
  • Turn light switches on and off
  • Try to locate the source of the natural gas leak
  • Re-enter the building or return to the area until the gas company or fire department tells you it’s safe
  • For more info click: Hazmat

During- 1. Drop to the ground 2. Find Cover 3. Hold On to the object you are under. 

After- Check yourself for injuries. Often people tend to others without checking their own injuries. Watch for hazards such as fires, gas leaks, downed utility lines, and fallen objects. Be aware, aftershocks may occur. For more info Click Here.


During- Yell "FIRE!" several times and try to exit. Pull the fire alarm and warn others while getting out. Check door handles, if hot do not open the door. If smoke is in the room, get on your hands and knees to escape. If on fire, Stop! Drop! and Roll!

Respond- If the fire is small and manageable consider unplugging the cord or turning off the gas. If you have one consider using a fire blanket or fire extinguisher. Remember when using the extinguisher use the PASS method P-Pull pin A-Aim at fire's base S-Squeeze lever S-Sweep side to side.

After- After calling 9-1-1, give first aid where needed. Cool and cover burns, which reduces the chance of further injury or infection. 

For Grilling Safety Tips Click Here or Click Here


Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Depending on the type of flooding, evacuate if told. Move to higher ground and stay where you are. Your home and its contents may look beyond hope, but many of your belongings can be restored. If you have to work in or near floodwater, wear a life jacket. If you think mosquitos may be a problem, wear long pants and sleeves before applying insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin.

To prevent mold growth, clean and dry the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans and clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water. To remove mold growth, wear impenetrable or heavy gloves, open windows and doors, and clean with a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Throw away porous items (for example, carpet and upholstered furniture) that cannot be dried quickly. Fix any leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. 

Heat Waves

Older adults, children, sickly, and/or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat. If your home is not adequate for the extreme heat, look for places in the community where you can cool off. Wear loose or light clothing. Stay hydrated. Avoid high-energy activities (working out, yard work). Check on your friends. Heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Avoid burning trash or other items and if you do check to see if there is a burn ban in your area first. For tips dealing with heat Click Here

Beware of Wild or Stray Animals

After a major disaster, some animals may have altered behavior. You may want to avoid or use caution if you see wild or stray animals. Call your local authority or animal control to handle these animals.


Listen to local radio or television stations for instructions. Access may be limited to some parts of the community, or roads may be blocked. Normal threats include high sustained winds and flooding in Tuscaloosa County. So secure outside items and take shelter. Watch for fallen trees and powerlines.


Listen to local radio or television stations for information. Normal threats include lighting or hail, but can also include high winds, flash flooding, and/or tornadoes. It is important to take shelter indoors. When thunder roars, go indoors!


Listen for alerts or sirens and follow instructions. Seek a safe place (lowest inner room with no windows or a shelter). If in a car, do not try and outrun it. Seek low-lying area until it passes. Watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines and report them immediately. Use caution around debris. For more info Click Here

Wild Fires

Obey alerts and warnings if told to evacuate. Listen to local radio or television stations for information. Do not return home until authorities say it is safe. Use caution and exercise good judgment when re-entering a burned wildland area. Hazards may still exist, including hot spots, which can flare up without warning.

Winter Storms

Help prevent freezing of water supply lines and pipes by covering the outside water spigot and opening doors to kitchen sinks to allow warm air to enter and letting faucets drip. Limit your time outdoors to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. If you go outside, wear layers of clothing. Bring pets inside.

Mental Health

Talk to others about your experience (counselors, family or friends, pastor). With children, talk and listen, explaining what happened and ensure their safety. Get plenty of rest, and practice health eating and exercise habits. Making a future family plan may decrease anxiety. Disasters can weigh heavily on everyone in the household before (from a past disaster) during, and after a disaster strikes. For some resources Click Here and go to managing stress.


Do not enter an area that you believe may be a terrorist disaster zone. If you are in one quickly leave and report it as there could be secondary hazards. Warn others as you leave and remember that it is also a crime scene and any evidence that you disturb may hinder law enforcement in catching the terrorist. If you see something suspicious taking place, report the behavior or activity to local law enforcement, or in the case of emergency call 911.

Remember the saying “If You See Something, Say Something" which is a nationwide call from the Department of Homeland Security encouraging all citizens to be vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity, and for individuals exhibiting certain types of suspicious activity.


For more detailed information and safety tips visit: