We should always be prepared for a range of possible emergencies. Whether in case of a personal medical emergency, hurricane, or a chemical release at a local petrochemical plant, there are steps we can take now to prepare ourselves. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) urges all residents to have a plan in the event of an emergency. Make sure you always have an emergency kit that contains the basics: essential first aid supplies, water, food, batteries, medicine, and a hand crank or battery- powered radio. Plan now how you will contact family members and where to meet up if you are separated. Check evacuation routes ahead of time.
GOHSEP and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have created extensive online resources for emergency preparedness. For more information about getting your family prepared in case an emergency strikes, visit Ready.gov and GetAGamePlan.org or call 1-800-BE-Ready.
In the event of an environmental emergency, such as a chemical release from an industrial facility, communities in the immediate area may be instructed to “shelter in place.” This is a technique designed to limit an individual’s exposure to a harmful contaminant that may be present in the air near their home. If you are instructed to shelter in place, immediately go inside and close all doors and windows. You may place damp towels at the bottoms of doors and windows to help seal them. If your windows and doors have cracks or air leaks, you may want to cover them with plastic sheeting and duct tape. Turn off all fans, air conditioners, and heaters to prevent outside air from entering your home. Turn on the radio or television to keep updated and stay off the phone. Stay inside until the “all clear” is given.
Watch: potential for a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tornado, etc. Keep an eye on the news for updates.
Warning: the threat is imminent or is occurring, and you should act accordingly, whether moving indoors or sheltering in place.
As Louisiana’s economy has grown, many large industrial facilities have located and expanded along the Mississippi River, alongside historic communities. In addition to the facilities, subsequent infrastructure of rail lines and pipelines also have developed alongside these residential communities. Communities located within the area of these facilities and infrastructure should have well-developed emergency evacuation plans appropriate for the specific threats present in their community. Additionally, an effective emergency alert system should be in place to notify communities in close proximity to industrial facilities when there is an emergency event.
Many parish OHSEP divisions encourage you to sign up for emergency alert texts in case of an emergency in your area. Make sure to visit your parish OHSEP website and sign up for alerts. A listing of all OHSEP offices can be found in the Appendix.
The Louisiana Citizens’ Guide To Environmental Engagement