Skip to main content
Twitter YouTube Print E-mail a friend this page Share this page

Hazard-Specific Preparedness

Downed Trees After stormA vital first step to disaster preparedness is identifying the types of disaster that may occur within a community. The hazards most likely to occur in the City are: 
​     


EARTHQUAKES

Earthquakes pose the most likely threat of major disaster to residents in the Puget Sound region. Fortunately, with proper information, planning and response, they are among the most survivable of disasters.

Some preparations that pertain specifically to earthquakes are listed below.

Anchor Your Home

Washington State experiences approximately 1,000 earthquakes each year; most too weak, deep or distant for the public to notice. However, those like the Nisqually Quake of 2001 rock buildings and cause damage. In a significant quake, homes not attached to their foundations may shift dangerously, jeopardizing residents and their property and making the homes unsafe. 

Most homes built after 1975 are attached.  Houses built before then should be checked. Those not attached, should be “retrofitted,” which requires a local government permit. 

Anchor Your Furnishings

During an earthquake, homes may shake enough to throw even heavy objects and furniture across a room.  To protect lives and property, larger furnishings that rest on the floor or wall, should be properly attached to them. Smaller objects, including those that rest on shelves, should be affixed with temporary adhesives.  Cabinet doors should be secured when not in use. Remove heavy objects over or near beds and strap down water heaters.

Locate Utility Shut-Offs

To prevent fires, flooding and gas poisoning, know where and how to turn off the electricity, gas, and water to your home.

How to react in an earthquake

Most people are injured in earthquakes when trying to get from one place to another. If you have identified safe locations in the places where you regularly spend time - go there during the earthquake. Here are some general safety tips for when the shaking is felt:

  • If you are indoors, stay inside. Do not run outside. Do not get in a doorway as this does not provide protection.
  • DROP, COVER and HOLD ON under a heavy table or counter. Stay low and protect your head and neck. 
  • If you are outside move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires. This might not be possible in a city, so you may need to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris (See Ready.gov for more tips).

 



LANDSLIDES

Much like all disaster risks, landslides are specific and unique to the individual location; therefore the best approach for residents is to be informed, make a plan, and take appropriate actions as recommended by landslide experts.
The following are links to information to assist residents in understanding their landslide risk and the expert based recommendations for actions.
Home Guide for Landslide (PDF)

Geologically Hazardous Area Code Amendments

King County Landslide Informationlinks to external site

Washington State Department of Natural Resources Landslide Programlinks to external site

USGS Landslide Hazards Programlinks to external site



FLOODS

 

The Puget Sound region, can receive significant rainfall between September and May. Occasional rain falls so quickly and for so long that flooding or mudslides and can occur damaging homes and roads and obstructing travel. There are things you can do to help protect yourself and your property.     

Ways to mitigate damage from flooding

  • Evaluate the design of your property for its potential to withstand long periods of heavy rain.  Strengthen vulnerable areas, such as ground that slopes toward the house.
  • Routinely check drain pipes and clear them when clogged.
  • Maintain generous amounts of vegetation to absorb significant rain water.
  • Inspect your home for areas that might not withstand high water and heavy downpours. Fix potential trouble spots.
  • Keep valuable documents in water proof containers, off the floor.
  • Assess the roadways you travel for their proximity to rivers and plan alternate routes, accordingly (See Roadways).

Ways to avoid danger during flooding

  • Pay attention to weather reports.
  • Plan for the worst possible conditions predicted.
  • Turn around, don't drown - never drive through flooded roadways   
  • Avoid travel during heavy rain.
  • When travel is necessary, use roadway reports to plan the safest route. In general, use the highest-lying roadways.
  • Evacuate your home when authorities advise
  • Watch for downed power lines and avoid areas near them. Water carries electrical current and can electrocute you from a distance. 



WINTER STORMS


In addition to heavy rains, winter can include periods of snow and ice. The following tips may help:

Preparing for snow and ice when traveling by car

  • Replace regular tires with snow tires and carry tire chains at the start of the winter season (usually by the end of November.)
  • Carry an emergency roadway kit in the trunk at all times.
  • Keep a warm blanket, a few health snacks, and a gallon of water in the passenger area, at all times.

Avoiding danger during snow and ice

  • Pay attention to weather reports.
  • Plan for the worst possible conditions predicted.
  • Wear clothing appropriate for outside temperatures.
  • Avoid travel when the ground is icy, particularly at night.
  • When travel is necessary, slow down.    

 



PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTERS

 

A communicable disease outbreak can have a greater impact on a community than, a major earthquake. When even being near someone can lead to serious illness or death, the public may have to isolate themselves for their own safety. Government offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other workplaces may close; public transportation may shut down; the numbers of available health care workers and first responders may decrease.  

Preventing the spread of disease

Using simple sanitary practices is the best way to prevent the outbreak of a communicable disease. Some key habits to adopt include the following:

  • Stay home when sick. Stay away from others when they are sick.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs, preferably with disposable tissues or into your elbow - not your hands. 
  • Dispose of used tissues in enclosed trash containers.
  • Use gloves and masks whenever possible and in public places.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap & water and wipe with antibacterial gel.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.

Surviving disease outbreaks

  • Listen to public information bulletins.
  • Follow guidelines recommended by health officials.   
  • Stay home and avoid public areas as much as possible.
  • Wear a mask over nose and mouth when outdoors.
  • Avoid direct contact with others and objects they touch.
  • Maintain your health: sleep, drink lots of fluids, eat fruits and vegetables.

Learn more about particular diseases, prevention and response through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 



TERRORISM

 

The best prevention is to remain aware of one’s surroundings and report any behaviors that seem highly suspicious. Examples of situations that may be worth reporting:

  • Unattended containers, large or small, in unusual places.
  • Unusual substances leaking from containers or in the open.
  • Packages and other mail from unknown or unfamiliar sources.
  • One or more persons acting in a distraught or threatening manner.
  • Someone dressed extremely inappropriately for the current weather.

The best action for anyone affected or potentially in the area of an attack includes:

  • Stay as calm as possible. Call 9-1-1 if you are able, report as much information as possible.   
  • If structures are damaged, be careful in moving to a safer location.
  • If potentially dangerous substances are involved, avoid transferring them to others places and people. 

   Examples:

  • Leave substances alone and call authorities.
  • If contaminated, stay put and call authorities in.
  • If outside the target area, try to keep others out.
  • Stay tuned to your radio and social media for information on the situation.
  • Follow all directions given by local authorities.

Fire Services
123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033

General Inquiries
T. 425.587.3650 | F. 425.587.3671