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Get Prepared for Stormy Weather
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By Melanie Finke, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
December 17, 2010
Blustery storms are projected to move into the Bay Area beginning on Friday, bringing as much as 10 inches of rain to region  extending from the Bay Area down the Monterey Peninsula. The storm may cause flooding and power outages. Following are tips people should follow to stay safe during this stormy weather.

Flood Safety Guide

During a Flood

  • Tune to 740 AM or 88.5 FM for emergency advisories and instructions, and be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
After a Flood
  • Return home only when officials have declared the area safe. Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
  • If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
  • During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
  • Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
  • Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula. Contact your local or state public health department for specific recommendations for boiling or treating water in your area after a disaster as water may be contaminated.

Power Outage Safety Guide

What To Do in Case of Power Outage

  • Keep Food Safe: Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Then consume your food in the following order: first use perishable food from the refrigerator; then food from the freezer; then your non-perishable foods and staples.
  • Turn Off and Unplug all Unnecessary Electrical Equipment: Disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • If the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds: Move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Call for help from this location.
  • Use Generators Safely: When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly on the generator. Note: Do not connect a generator to a home’s electrical system.
What To Do When the Power Comes Back On
  • Do Not Touch Any Electrical Power Lines: Keep your family away from them. Report downed power lines to the appropriate officials in your area.
  • Throw Out Unsafe Food: Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40° F (4° C) for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! Never taste food or rely on appearance or odor to determine its safety.  If food in the freezer is colder than 40° F and has ice crystals on it, you can refreeze it. Use a thermometer to check the food’s temperature.

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