Have you ever thought what you would do if you found yourself in an emergency situation? For example, if you were evacuated from your home during severe rainfall, if you were housebound during heavy snow, or car bound during a heat wave?
Hampshire, Isle of Wight is potentially susceptible to a wide range of risks. Some of the main risks relevant to the local area are highlighted within the Community Risk Profile on the left hand menu. (For a detailed breakdown of the risk evaluation see the Community Risk Matrix).
Although the chances of you finding yourself affected by a major emergency are relatively low, there is still a great deal you can do within your home to make yourself and your family safer and less vulnerable. Taking simple steps now, means you are prepared and can deal with potential hazards in a calm and well-thought-out manner should they occur.
Household emergency action plan
The chances of you being caught up in a major emergency are low but it’s a good idea that you and your family are ready. One way of being ready is to prepare a household emergency plan. These downloadable templates will help you to keep all your information in one place. They include:
Radio stations, websites and Twitter feeds that will help you stay informed in an emergency
Telephone numbers for help
Contact details for members of your household
Check list for your emergency grab bag
Emergency Action check list
The NHS Heatwave website provides useful information for staying safe and enjoying the summer weather.
Hampshire has many high capacity events throughout the year including the Southampton Boat Show, Clippers World Yacht Race, Portsmouth International Kite Festival and various music and community events.
When attending such events with your family please ensure you take the necessary steps to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable day.
- Check the weather forecast before you go and bring/wear the appropriate clothing.
- Bring other essential items such as food, water, medications, sunscreen, a fully charged mobile phone (check what is permissible within the particular event beforehand).
- Arrange a distinguishable rendezvous point with your family in case you become separated.
- If taking especially young children it may be worth attaching to them a wrist-tag with your contact details in case of separation.
If you are planning your own public event please contact your local council for advice on legislation and appropriate planning. You can also find more information in the Event Safety Guide published on the Health and Safety Executive website.
With coastal areas, surface water flooding, and the river systems of the Itchen, Avon and Test, there is the potential for a variety of flooding within the Hampshire area. Taking note of the steps below can go some way to helping protect yourself, your family and your home and possessions.
- Seek the best possible insurance cover for your home and contents;
- Check whether your property is in a Flood Zone, Environment Agency Flood Maps and register for the Environment Agency flood warning service if it is available;
- Prepare grab bag with items mentioned on previous page;
- Make sure you know how to turn off your electricity, gas and water.
- Make sure your family members are aware of what to do. (Note the children’s section linked on the left hand side of the page.
- Familiarise yourself with the Environment Agency flood warning codes and Met Office Weather Warning states, both of which will be advertised on their respective websites.
- Check the Met-Office Flood Warnings on their website and the Environment Agency Floodline 0845 988 1188 and prepare/act accordingly.
The basic Met Office messages associated with each of the warning states:
- No severe weather;
- Be aware;
- Be prepared;
- Take action.
Environment Agency Flood Warning Codes:
- Flood alert;
- Flood warning;
- Severe flood warning.
In Preparation/lead up:
- Move valuable, sentimental and electrical items upstairs;
- Place enough food, water and any other supplies upstairs and get your grab-bag in case of evacuation;
- Fill the bath and buckets with water for washing;
- Clear guttering of leaves and any other obstructions;
- Consider placing sandbags at external doors and seal vents and windows. (Remember to unseal vents before turning utilities back on). Products such as aqua-sacs and vent covers can be purchased in advance or in an emergency heavy duty (consider doubling), plastic sacks filled with garden soil and well-sealed may serve as a temporary alternative. The National Flood Forum provides more information on flood products;
- Make sure your family, pets etc are safe;
- Check that friends and neighbours are aware of any flood warnings.
- Tune into the radio and listen for instructions regarding evacuation;
- If evacuating, turn off your gas and electricity if safe to do so and if heavy floods, leave interior doors open.
- Do not try and drive through the flood – you risk becoming stranded and avoid driving completely unless essential;
- Do not walk through flood water – you may become unbalanced or fall victim to hazards such as blown manhole covers.
- Do not turn on appliances caught in the flood until tested by a professional.
- Throw away any non-waterproof-sealed food which has come into contact with flood water.
- Disinfect any other items that have come into contact with flood water.
- Contact your buildings and contents insurance company as soon as possible
- Get professional advice on structural damage.
- Seek further council advice on insurance and assistance if unsure.
Preparing for winter
In the lead up to winter, there is plenty you can do to prepare. Taking steps in advance, just before, during, and after periods of snow and ice can help you throughout the winter months.
- Have a salt and grit supply covered in storage (if possible) for extreme circumstances.
- Ensure that your car has essential emergency items in the boot. These include: water, non-perishable food, a torch, a blanket, a shovel, windscreen scraper and de-icer and a charged mobile phone.
- Pre-empt and keep your house well-stocked with non-perishable food, preventing the need for unnecessary journeys.
- Have a grab-bag prepared.
- If you need to evacuate in the short-term, turn your heating on low/frost setting, get your grab bag and secure your property.
- If outside wear appropriate clothing – warm, waterproof and proper shoes with good grip.
- Only make essential journeys, check local radio for road closures and conditions, and if travelling ensure your car has the emergency items mentioned above.
- If water pipes freeze, turn the stop valve, open cold taps to drain the system, (don't turn on hot taps). Never attempt to thaw out pipes using your heater. Instead, check for leaks or bursts, then gently heat frozen sections with a heated cloth around the pipe. Don’t touch electrical fittings and never apply a direct flame. Call a plumber if unsure.
- If venturing out watch out for falling snow and ice from your roof, don't park your car underneath. Contact your insurer if snow or ice has caused damage to your property.
- Check local radio and council websites for any school closures.
- Clear your drive and surrounding area and if possible help those friends and neighbours unable to clear theirs.
- If possible, check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours. See if they have enough food etc as they may be unable to leave the house.
- Check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
- Follow the previous instructions regarding frozen pipes.
- Check your home for any weather damage.
Key General Preparation
One of the first, key things you can do is have a ‘grab bag’ ready. This is just a simple waterproof rucksack containing key items needed for you and your family in an emergency. If this is then kept in a safe and easy to remember location it can be accessed should you need to move quickly. This is especially important in cases such as flooding evacuation (if a fire situation leave it and evacuate immediately). Taking the short space of time now to gather these items now prevents future hassle when under pressure and goes a long when to preparing you and your family.
Essential items to include are:
- Bottled Water
- Non-perishable, sealed food
- Spare Batteries
- Spare Dry Clothes
- Essential Toiletries
- Any Necessary Medication
- Insurance and any other Important Documents
- Mobile Phone with Battery charged (& Charger)
- Essential Phone Numbers on an additional sheet
- Money/Credit Card
- First Aid Kit
Other important actions
Other general steps key to preparing for emergencies include:
- Having similar emergency items in the boot of your car, especially a torch, blanket, bottled water and basic first aid kit.
- Storing passports and other important documents in a secure, fireproof box.
- Knowing where, and how to access, the key utility points within your home.
- Where the emergency exits are within your home.
- Ensuring the rest of your family are aware of what to do in an emergency.
- That any vulnerable friends and relatives are prepared and contactable.
For additional information please look at the Community Risk Register.