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DHS News October 2011

pdf.gif October 2011 DHS Newsletter

DHS offers disaster preparedness tips on web, intranet

As we experienced with the recent 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook some buildings, the potential for a natural disaster to strike exists regardless of the season, the time or the place. With this in mind, DHS has posted disaster preparedness information, including a tip sheet provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) titled “How to Communicate During a Disaster.”

The tips are intended to help people better prepare for major disasters, knowing that communications networks are more likely to be compromised or damaged. Such information was especially vital less than a month ago when the earthquake and Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast. With both events, there was significant disruption to mobile networks and severe network congestion, making it harder for people to reach loved ones and emergency services.

Although Allegheny County was left unscathed in both incidences, it is impossible to determine when the next emergency disaster situation will affect our region. Some of the tips included in FEMA’s “How to Communication During a Disaster” include:

  • Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers in your cell phone.
  • If you have a traditional land-line, keep at least one non-cordless phone in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
  • If you do not have a cell phone, keep a pre-paid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
  • For non-emergency communications, use text messaging, email or social media instead of making phone calls on your cell phone to avoid tying up voice networks.
  • Conserve your cell phone battery by reducing the brightness of your screen, placing your phone in airplane mode and closing applications you are not using that draw power.

View the full list of disaster communication tips

Know your SERP
While the earthquake was a rare event for our region and no significant damage or injuries were reported, events like this should serve as a reminder to staff that Standard Emergency Response Plans (SERPs) for all of our buildings are available on the DHS Intranet at and that staff should be familiar with them.

The objectives of the SERPs are to establish procedures for responding to fire emergencies, natural and man-made disasters and medical emergencies. They also outline methods for safe and orderly evacuation (or shelter-in-place requirements, if deemed necessary) of any part of our buildings.

Please review the SERP for your building or other DHS buildings that you visit frequently at your earliest convenience.

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