Press Releases

During an Emergency

Posted on: Friday, March 23rd, 2012

During an emergency, you may not have time to make alternative plans. You may also not be aware of whom to listen to for instructions. That’s why it is important to know who to call and what to do under different circumstances.

When to call 9-1-1 (where available)

  • Report a fire
  • Report a crime
  • Save a life

For non-emergency calls, use the seven- or ten-digit numbers listed in your local phone book for police, fire and paramedic services.

In case of a major emergency

  • Follow your emergency plan
  • Get your basic emergency kit
  • Make sure you are safe before assisting others.
  • Listen to the radio or television for information from local officials and follow their instructions.
  • Stay put until all is safe or until you are ordered to evacuate.


You may be instructed to “shelter-in-place” if chemical, biological or radiological contaminants are released into the environment. This means you must remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there. The following steps will help maximize your protection:

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air-conditioning systems to avoid drawing in air from the outside.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Get your basic emergency kit and make sure the radio is working.
  • Go to an interior room that’s above ground level (if possible, one without windows). In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
  • Using duct or other wide tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
  • Continue to monitor your radio or television until you are told all is safe or are advised to evacuate.

Evacuation orders

Authorities will not ask you to leave your home unless they have reason to believe you are in danger.

If you are ordered to evacuate, take:

  • Your basic emergency kit
  • Your emergency plan
  • Essential medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Cellular phone (if you have one)
  • Pets ( please note: pets are not allowed in some emergency shelters, so plan in advance for a pet-friendly location)

Protect your home:

  • Shut off water and electricity if officials tell you to.
  • Leave natural gas service on, unless officials tell you to turn it off. (If you turn off the gas, the gas company has to reconnect it. In a major emergency, it could take weeks for a professional to respond. You would be without gas for heating and cooking).
  • Lock your home.

If you have time:

  • Call or e-mail your out-of-town contact. Tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive. (Once you are safe, let them know. Tell them if any family members have become separated.)
  • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.