Natural & Technological Emergencies

Natural Hazards Emergencies

Communities are vulnerable to a variety of types of severe weather, including thunderstorms, hurricanes, flash floods, snow storms, and tornadoes. It is important for you to understand the difference between a watch and a warning for severe weather. A severe weather watch means that severe weather may develop. A severe weather warning means a storm has developed, take cover immediately.


The safest place to ride out any storm is inside of a secure building or well built home. You should have a pre-planned location and follow these guides:

  • Be ready to evacuate if necessary
  • Have your Emergency-Go-Kit handy
  • Keep away from windows and doors
  • Listen to weather updates and stay informed


Lightning is produced in all thunderstorms. If you are close enough to a storm to hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Move inside as quickly as possible.  If caught outside in a thunderstorm, follow these steps:

  • Try to get inside a building as quickly as possible
  • If a building is not available, move into a car with all windows closed
  • In an open area or field, move to a low area such as a ravine or valley
  • In a group of people, spread out, keeping several yards apart from each other


Tornadoes are dangerous because of their high winds and ability to lift and move heavy objects. If you receive a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.  Visit the National Weather Service website for additional information on severe weather conditions and precautions to take.  Use the following guide to make a decision based on your location in the event of a tornado:

  • In a Car
    • Stop!  Get out of your vehicle and lie flat face down in a low area.
    • Cover your head and wait for the tornado to pass.
  • At Home
    • Go to the basement, storm shelter, or rooms near the center of the house.
  • In a High-rise or Public Building
    • Move immediately and quickly to higher ground. The force of 6 inches of swiftly moving water can knock people off their feet!
    • If flood water rises around your car, get out and move to higher ground immediately. Cars can be easily swept away in just 2 feet of moving water!

Technological Hazards Emergencies

If you are notified or become aware of a technological hazards emergency such as a chemical, biological, or radiological emergency, fire or explosion, do not panic. The best defense from any of these emergencies is education and awareness. If you need to get out of the surrounding area or are directed to evacuate, do so immediately and:

  1. Take your Emergency-Go-Kit
  2. Lock your home
  3. Travel on routes specified by local authorities
  4. Travel with car windows up along with air vents, air conditioner, and heater turned off

Emergency personnel are trained to respond to these situations. They will tell you what to do, either at the incident site, or via TV or radio. Emergency broadcasts can be received via the Emergency Alert System (EAS). For information regarding the different types of chemical and biological agents, visit the Centers for Disease Control website and/or the Pennsylvania Department of Health site.

If Time Permits

Should you have enough time in the event of a technological hazards emergency, you should follow these steps:

  1. Close and lock windows and doors and close all vents and fireplace dampers
  2. urn off all fans and heat or air conditioning
  3. Shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving
  4. Post a note telling others when you left and where you are going
  5. Make arrangements for your pets


Should the appropriate authorities instruct residents to stay inside, ensure these steps are followed:

  1. Close and lock windows and doors
  2. Turn off ventilation systems, water and gas
  3. Seal gaps under doorways and windows with duct tape
  4. If you suspect chemical or biological agents have entered your house, move to a room in the interior of the house on a higher floor if possible. Many harmful agents that could enter a house will fall and accumulate at lower levels.
  5. If harmful vapors do enter the house, cover your nose and mouth with a damp or wet cloth
  6. Stay inside until authorities say it is safe