There is a growing concern about trains and the potentially dangerous cargo that they carry. As train traffic increases, so does the risk. Not every train carries dangerous cargo, but it is better to err on the side of caution to ensure your safety. This article is a brief overview of what to do and not to do should this disaster occur (or if there is an accident with a truck carrying dangerous freight). The information is based upon what I have learned from professional emergency managers, but they are the expert and should always be consulted for specifics.
WHAT TO DO WHEN A TRAIN DERAILS
First, BE PREPARED. Prepare yourself, family, and pets for disaster. Create a disaster kit for your home, another for your auto, and a third for your office. Be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice (include the pets). Your life may depend upon it. Information at www.ready.gov or www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family
Second, sign up for your local Homeland Security or Emergency Management office to receive an email, phone-call, or text message for EMERGENCY ALERTS. Just search online for the information. They will notify you whenever an emergency occurs and provide some information of what to do. It is also wise to procure, program, and keep on 24/7 a weather alert radio. It will also sound during emergencies. One option is www.emergencyemail.org
Third, DO NOT go to photo, film, take a selfie or gawk at the derailment. You do not know what hazards may be aboard. Not all chemical leaks smell or have visual fumes. The blast zone is considered to be a minimum of six blocks but could be as far as a mile. Just stay away.
Fourth, if the train derails be on the safe side and practice the RULE OF UP. Travel UP-wind, UP-hill, UP-stream of the disaster site. Gather the pets, humans, and depart immediately. Travel at least one mile away to be safe. Follow the instructions of the first responders (law enforcement, fire fighters, ambulance). However, if it is early in the response, they may be accessing the situation. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry. If anything, it is a good drill to practice evacuation.
Note: The only exception for evacuation are some types of chemical spills/leaks. The first responders may request that you stay at home and move everyone to the top floor or close windows/doors until the chemical disperses. Every situation is unique so listen to the first responders, they are specifically trained in this matter.
Finally, BE INFORMED. FEMA and Department of Homeland Security have a lot of information available. You can research and learn a lot from their sites and participate in free on-line training. Your local Emergency Management office or Red Cross may be able to come to your location and teach a class, just contact them for details. www.fema.gov or www.dhs.gov/how-do-i/prepare-my-family-disaster
Be a survivor, not a statistic.
Copyright 2014 Ima B. Musing (c) All rights reserved.