Emergency Procedures

Some kinds of chemical accidents or attacks may make staying put dangerous. In such cases, it may be safer for you to evacuate, or leave the immediate area. You may need to go to an emergency shelter after you leave the immediate area.

Protective Actions
Protective actions are steps we take to protect our family members and ourselves from harm. The 2 most common forms of emergency protective actions are shelter-in-place and evacuation. During and after an event, stay tuned to your local emergency station or listen to emergency personnel to know which protective action you should use.

Shelter-in-place involves simply staying in your house, or inside any other location you might be, as to avoid harm. In the event of an emergency such as the release of a hazardous material, it is not always recommended to immediately evacuate, as leaving your house might expose you to harmful agents that have been dispersed into the air.

The county and local municipalities have placed numerous road signs throughout the area that mark the primary outbound evacuation or event routes. There are also inbound routes for emergency vehicles. These routes are clearly marked with signage directing motorists. During an emergency, stay tuned to your local emergency station or listen to emergency personnel for instructions on which route to follow. Also see the county's evacuation map.

Before an Emergency Strikes
An emergency can occur without warning, leaving little or no time for you and your family to plan what to do next. The following links will help you learn about the things you can do to be prepared — before an emergency occurs:
  • Create an emergency plan
  • Prepare an emergency go kit
  • Prepare pets

View the Health Department's emergency plan page for more information.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Working with neighbors in an emergency can save lives and property. Meet with your community members to plan how you could work together until help arrives. If you’re a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, participate in emergency preparedness activities and planning for your community.

Business Preparedness
Businesses are just as vulnerable to the effects of emergencies as ordinary citizens. Basic steps that a business should take to prepare for an emergency include:
  • Have an evacuation plan in place to evacuate staff and customers and test this plan regularly.
  • Maintain sufficient insurance coverage for your business.
    • Identify critical business functions that absolutely must continue (i.e. shipping, inventory control, payroll) and come up with processes to ensure these will carry on.
  • Prepare backups and store offsite all computer records (i.e. payroll, inventory records).
Things to Think About
If any member of your household has a disability or is elderly, find out what services may be available to aid in their care or evacuation in the event of an emergency. The disaster preparedness manual (PDF) is one valuable resource. Another valuable resource is the Citizen's Guide to Preparedness (PDF), which is also available in Spanish (PDF).

How to Know if You Need to Evacuate
You will hear from the local police, emergency coordinators, or government on the radio and/or television if you need to evacuate.

If there is a “code red” or “severe” terror alert, you should pay attention to radio and/or television broadcasts so you will know right away if an evacuation order is made for your area.

What to Do
  1. Act quickly and follow the instructions of local emergency coordinators. Every situation can be different, so local coordinators could give you special instructions to follow for a particular situation.
  2. Local emergency coordinators may direct people to evacuate homes or offices and go to an emergency shelter. If so, emergency coordinators will tell you how to get to the shelter. If you have children in school, they may be sheltered at the school. You should not try to get to the school if the children are being sheltered there.
  3. The emergency shelter will have most supplies that people need. The emergency coordinators will tell you which supplies to bring with you. Be sure to bring any medications you are taking.
  4. If you have time, call a friend or relative in another state to tell them where you are going and that you are safe. Local telephone lines may be jammed in an emergency, so you should plan ahead to have an out-of-state contact with whom to leave messages. If you do not have private transportation, make plans in advance of an emergency to identify people who can give you a ride.
  5. Evacuating and sheltering in this way should keep you safer than if you stayed at home or at your workplace. You will most likely not be in the shelter for more than a few hours. Emergency coordinators will let you know when it is safe to leave the shelter.
What to Do If You Are Notified of an Emergency
  1. Stay calm.
  2. Go indoors, close all windows, doors vents and turn off air conditioners or heating systems.
  3. Turn on your radio or television to an emergency broadcast station for instructions.
Emergency Broadcast Radio Stations
  • WAYV 95.1 FM / WZXL 100.7 FM
  • WCMC 1230 AM
  • WCZT 98.7 FM / WWZK 94.3 FM
  • WFPG 96.9 FM
  • WMGM 103.7 FM
  • WOND 1400 AM
  • WTKU 98.3 FM
Emergency Broadcast TV Station
  • WMGM TV 40
Don't Use Telephones
Do not use the telephone. The lines are needed for official business and your call could delay emergency response organization action.

Warning Alert
  • The warning alert indicates there is a problem which poses potential danger to the community. There is also a potential for escalation to a more serious situation. The warning alert informs residents to "stand by for further information."
  • The warning alert will usually be delivered by police vehicles using sirens and PA systems or a regional siren system. A steady siren tone lasting three minutes is the alert signal.
  • Tune your radio to one of the participating emergency broadcast stations listed for information and further instructions.
The following is an example of the type of announcement you may hear:

"At (time) today, local officials reported an incident involving (description of situation). The incident occurred at (location). As a precautionary measure, all persons near this location should stay indoors, close all windows, doors and vents, and turn off all air conditioners or heating systems. Stay tuned for further instructions. The next report will be given at prescribed intervals as necessary. This message will be repeated until conditions change."

As soon as it can be determined that the hazardous condition has passed, local authorities will announce the emergency is over. If the emergency involved a hazardous material cloud, at the "all clear" you will be instructed to open windows and doors, ventilate the building and go outside.
Protect Your Breathing

  • Close the windows and doors if you are in a building or car.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or cloth.
  • Turn off heating and cooling systems.
  • Turn off windows and attic fans.