Wally Wise Guy is a turtle who knows it is wise to go inside his shell whenever there’s danger. Wally is targeted to reach children from kindergarten to 4th grade. To learn more about him and sheltering in place Click Here.
Severe weather can be a scary thing for children and adults alike. While we can’t always avoid these disasters, we can be prepared and learn about them. Do you know what to do in case of a weather emergency? The videos on this page will help you learn about different kinds of severe weather and how to be prepared in case they happen.
Coloring Pages for Kids & Other Information
Imagine a scenario where you are listening to a sermon at your place of worship on a Sunday morning, and you hear an outdoor warning siren wail nearby. Or perhaps you see a person acting suspiciously in your place of worship and they draw a weapon. What about a fire alarm sounding or just a loss of electrical power? What will you do in these situations? Is your congregation ready?
We have seen what can happen as with the tornado impact on Palm Sunday of 1994 near Piedmont, AL, and the violence on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, SC. A disaster or an attack could happen anywhere at any time.
The State of Alabama has created ReadySunday, an initiative that encourages religious organizations to create a disaster plan and educate their congregations on what to do and how to respond if a disaster was to occur, or if attacked. Promoting disaster awareness can save time, money, and most importantly lives.
Houses of worship should take an all-hazards approach in preparing for an emergency. As for families and individuals, these basic steps provide a framework to get prepared:
1. Be informed. All hazards are unique, so faith-based organizations need to learn and be aware of what kinds of hazards can happen, and what effects a certain hazard can have on the people and building. It is important to know what our risks are in Alabama and prepare your congregation and yourself. Sign up a few people from your church with TuscALERT putting the church address as the location this will ensure you get notifications or alerts for the church during severe weather or other events.
2. Make a plan. It is recommended that the leadership at the place of worship should form a disaster planning committee and create a written plan. A link to a thorough and modifiable template of an emergency operations plan can be found at the bottom of the page. Part of this process also involves communicating the plan to all participants.
3. Build a kit. A disaster kit should be assembled with supplies necessary to survive during and after an emergency. Some items a congregation may include in the kit but are not limited to, flashlights with backup batteries, a first aid kit, an AED, and a weather radio.
Organizations like yours play an integral role in our community, especially during and after disasters. Not only will congregation members turn to their faith in times of crisis, but community members will seek out your organization for comfort and support. With the collaboration of faith-based groups and government agencies, we can work together to educate and empower our communities to prepare before disasters strike.
For more information about ReadySunday – CLICK HERE
FEMA Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship – CLICK HERE
U.S. Fire Administration / FEMA's Protecting Houses of Worship Against Arson - CLICK HERE
CISA's Mitigating Attacks on House of Worship --Security Guide CLICK HERE
CISA's Faith-Based / Houses of Worship Resources- CLICK HERE
CISA's De-Escalation Series goes through the steps to Recognize, Assess, De-Escalate, and Report a person of concern- CLICK HERE
CISA's Protecting Places of Worship: Six Steps to Enhance Security Against Targeted Violence Fact Sheet- CLICK HERE
Modifiable House of Worship Emergency Operations Plan Template (Source: Fairfield County, OH EMA)
Active Shooter Safety
As active shooting incidents continue to increase throughout our nation and abroad, it is important to know what to do if you or a loved one is caught in the middle of one. The programs, Run-Hide-Fight and ALICE, are taught and widely accepted. Both were designed for the workplace, but the valuable information taught in them can be used in churches, community meetings, and schools. It is important to make a plan for your work, church, or school and educate your loved ones. Please look over the steps listed to determine your best response at each location you frequent.
- Run – Always try to escape and evacuate an area where an assailant is present. Having a planned escape route and being aware of exits is critical for survival.
- Hide – If an escape route is not present, hide. Quickly and quietly, secure safety by hiding in an office/room. If unable to secure safety in a locked room, hide behind any large object that will provide protection and act as a shield from the assailant.
- Fight – If facing imminent danger and unable to run or hide, the last alternative is to fight the assailant. Prepare to use any object to disarm or distract the assailant.
A.L.I.C.E. (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate)
- Alert – With this alert should come an immediate response and understanding you may be in imminent danger. Every second counts and swift action is required.
- Lockdown – If evacuating is not an option, secure safety in a locked and/or barricaded room.
- Inform – After safety is established, communicating with law enforcement in real-time is essential to provide critical information.
- Counter – Focus on causing a diversion to distract the assailant.
- Evacuate – When able to do so, safely leave the area.
For ALICE Action Steps: Click Here
Take care of yourself first, and then you may be able to help the wounded before first responders arrive.
While you wait for first responders to arrive, provide first aid- apply direct pressure to the wounded and use tourniquets if you have been trained to do so.
Keep hands visible and empty.
Know that law enforcement’s first task is to end the incident, and they may have to pass injured along the way.
Follow law enforcement instructions and evacuate in the direction they come from.
Officers may be armed with rifles, shotguns, and/or handguns and may use pepper spray or tear gas to control the situation.
Officers will shout commands and may push individuals to the ground for their safety. Follow instructions!
Consider seeking professional help for you and your family to cope with the long-term effects of the trauma.
Tuscaloosa Police Department, Northport Police Department, and the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office provide training on what to do during an active shooter event for citizens. If you would like to reach out and schedule a training for your community group, please contact one of the agencies below.
For other Active Shooter information and training, see the links below:
- Active Shooter Preparedness Program: Click Here
- CISA's Emergency Action Plan: Active Shooter: Click Here
- CISA's Active Shooter Preparedness Training: Click Here
- How to Respond Booklet: Click Here
- RHF- Quick Reference Guide: Click Here
- RHF- Poster: Click Here
- FEMA's (IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do) Training: Click Here
Vial of Life Project
The Vial of Life Program encourages individuals to fill out a form and put it on their refrigerator, along with putting a sticker on the front door indicating they have it placed on the refrigerator. This allows first responders (Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics) to quickly know to go to the refrigerator to get their current medical history and list of medications in case they are experiencing a medical problem or emergency.
This process can be done in 4 easy steps!
1. Fill out the Vial of Life form
- Make blank copies of this form to keep your information current or maintain and store your updated information online with us.
- Fill out the backside of the Vial of Life form. Answer all or any pertinent questions.
2. Place the decal on the front of a plastic baggie
- Place the form you filled out in the plastic baggie.
- You may also consider placing the following items in the baggie:
- Copy of last EKG
- Living Will or Equivalent
- DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), if applicable
- Recent Picture of Yourself
3. Place the baggie on the refrigerator door
- Securely tape the plastic baggie on the front of your refrigerator door.
- Place the decal on your refrigerator – this could be on the front or side of the refrigerator, whichever is easiest for EMS personnel to see and access.
4. Place the second decal on the front door
- Place the decal on the front door so it can easily be seen by anyone responding to an emergency.
To get a printable version of the form, Click Here.
To get a printable version of the Decal for your door, Click the button below.
If you are unable to print one of the above, you may contact Northstar EMS at (205) 259-8367.
Note: April 25 2023 it was reported that Tuscaloosa, AL was the number 1 Metropolitan area in the nation for identity theft with more than 1,000 victims for every 100,000 residents. Please use caution. Article from the New York Post.
Be Aware of Phone Scams
Example #1: A caller contacts an older adult claiming a grandchild has been arrested and needs bail money or has legal fees. The caller may claim to be an attorney and that the call is legitimate. They will then send a courier to the older adult's location to retrieve the money.
Example #2: Someone calls and says they are a deputy or police officer and you have a warrant or a warrant will be issued for your arrest because you owe the IRS money.
Example #3: Caller states they are with Alabama Power and you need to submit a payment so your service won't be interrupted for failure to pay.
Example #4: Caller may say they are with a bond company and they need payment for one of your family members to be released.
Example #5: Caller contacting you about recovering funds for worthless checks.
Example #6: (A text message from an unknown number) Please click this link to get your information. OR We need you to Verify your account or it will be locked.
Beware of putting too much information on Social Media
- Surveys and answering posts where you give data (first job, favorite color, favorite food, city of birth) are used to guess passwords.
- Criminals can create fake profiles impersonating someone you know or are already friends with. Look to see if they are already in your friends list or call them.
- When commenting, replying to a message, or answering questions on a social media page, confirm it is the real page of the business or person you want to talk to. Look at the pictures, past posts, and other information to make sure it was not created recently. Scammers will often make an account that looks like the page you want to go to but won't have any of the pictures or large amounts of posts that the real account has.
Be aware of email and letter scams or attacks
- Some scammers will send emails that look like they are coming from legitimate sources, including banks, government agencies, and other services and businesses.
- Some scammers will send emails stating you have won a prize, the lottery, or a sweepstakes, be instantly on your guard if you are asked to pay a fee or tax for the prize, or if there's a request for your credit card or bank account information.
- You may get a letter requesting your Medicare or health insurance information, social security number, or financial information due to you going to the doctor's office or hospital.
Tips on things you should do if you get a call or email like one of the above:
- Resist the urge to act immediately – no matter how dramatic the story is.
- Verify the caller’s identity. Ask questions that a stranger could not possibly answer. If it is a company you use ask caller to confirm your account number or the amount of your latest bill. (If you are still unsure hang up and call the number of the company and confirm the status of your account.)
- Stop the conversation by getting their name and number. Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you have been instructed by the caller to keep it a secret. If the caller says they are with the bank or law enforcement, call that organization to confirm if it is true.
- Do not send cash, gift cards, Green Dot cards, money grams, iTunes cards, or money transfers. Once the scammer gets the money, it’s gone!
- Never open your door to anyone you do not know.
- Do not click on a link or open an attachment in an email, especially when you are not quite sure who it is from.
To help with Cybersecurity, Ransomware, and Malware issues:
- Use Multi-factor authentication. This provides additional layers of security and may look like you getting and entering a code from the site you are accessing.
- Look for errors in emails or web addresses (spelling, different sender email address, slight change in the web address). If an email is asking for personal information, call the company (Do not call the number within the email. It could be the scammer's number). Google the company and locate the number that way to confirm if it is a real request.
- Avoid using open or free public Wi-Fi. If you do use public Wi-Fi, avoid entering banking information.
- Regularly change passwords to network systems and accounts. Avoid reusing passwords for different accounts. Also, create long passwords that contain a variety of characters (EX. "j23HBAffbm&fPq44m^9K") or use passphrases. Passphrases are a string of words that make sense to you like a book or movie title.
- Use password managers, which is software that can create, store, and sync your login credentials. This allows you to only have to remember one password.
- Set antivirus and anti-malware solutions to automatically update; conduct regular scans.
- Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources. Check your app permissions and use the "rule of least privilege" to delete what you don't need or no longer use. Also just say "no" to privilege requests that don't make sense.
- Audit user accounts with administrative privileges and configure access controls with the least privileges in mind.
- Regularly back up data, air gap, and password-protect backup copies offline.
- Focus on awareness and training making sure employees know who to contact when they see suspicious activity or when they believe they have been a victim of a cyber attack.
- If you find a USB flash drive never put it into your computer. Take it to the nearest IT person in charge.
Signs that you may be a victim of identity theft: Don’t ignore any of these suspicious signals. The longer you wait, the more time-consuming, costly, and exhausting it can be to rectify the situation.
- bills for products or services you never purchased;
- unauthorized withdrawals from your bank;
- unauthorized charges on your credit card statements;
- unauthorized charges on your credit card or new accounts in your name—which you never opened;
- noticing a decrease in the amount of mail or bills you receive; or
- a decrease in the amount of mail or bills you receive, or being rejected, or denied, for a credit application.
If you do send them money or give them personal information:
Call the police (non-emergency number) immediately if you have reason to believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam. Local police can do a report.
Other reporting options you can take:
Report to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency
Report to the Federal Trade Commission: Click Here
Report to the FBI: Click Here
For some free courses on cybersecurity Click Here
Steps for small businesses and local governments Click Here
For other information visit: The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency