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.

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.

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 if cannot be seen nor smelled. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY.

Chemical Emergencies
  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 only when authorities say it is safe.


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.


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

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


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. 

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. 


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.

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, practice health eating and exercise habits. Making a future family plan may decrease anxiety.

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