Department of Public Safety

Are You Prepared?

  1. Family Disaster Preparedness questions....
  2. An Introduction to Emergency Management....
  3. Why prepare?
  4. Outdoor Warning Systems...
  5. Tornado Facts....
  6. Flooding and Flash Floods...
  7. Your Emergency Plan...
  8. Hazardous Materials....
  9. Disaster kits for your home...
  10. Evacuation...
  11. Home Escape Plan
  12. Fire Education
  13. Disaster kits for your vehicle...
  14. Evacuation kits for your home...
  15. Babysitter / Visitor Information...

Family Disaster Preparedness questions... 

  1. Do you believe that the community you live in is relatively prepared for emergencies?

  2. Do you think that your family is relatively well-prepared to handle most emergencies?

  3. Have you discussed emergency planning as a family or group living together?

  4. Do you have a Family Emergency Supplies Kit, which should include:
            a.    A  five-day supply of water for each person
            b.    One change of clothing per person
            c.    One blanket or sleeping bag per person
            d.    A first aid kit that includes prescription medication for up to five days
            e.    A battery powered radio & flashlight, with extra batteries
            f.    An extra set of car keys, credit card, small amount of cash
            g.    Sanitation supplies

  5. Do you have operational smoke detectors on every level?

  6. Do you have a charged ABC fire extinguisher?

  7. Does everyone old enough know how to use it?

  8. Do you know how to turn off utilities?  Do other family members?

  9. Do you have a location outside your home where all members can meet if caused to evacuate your home?

  10. Are your most important papers and records safeguarded?

  11. Has your family had a fire and tornado drill in the past six months?

  12. Do you have an out of state phone partner to call when local telephone lines go down?

  13. Do you know what the emergency plans are for where you work, where your children go to school, and daycare centers?

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An Introduction to Emergency Management...

Mercer County   has established an Emergency Management Program to coordinate preparedness, relief, response, and recovery activities for all emergency or disaster situations within the County.  The program has an Emergency Management Coordinator (James R Thompson), appointed by the County Board of Commissioners.   who is certified by the State of Pennsylvania as a Professional Emergency Manager.   It is his responsibility to meet program standards and requirements established by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management.

This portion of the WEB Site was developed to help prepare Mercer County residents for a disaster or emergency within the County, providing the information families need to prepare for and be self reliant during an disaster or emergency by creating a personalized Family Emergency Action Plan.  Any questions may be directed to the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency,  by telephone at (724) 662-6100, by email at, or by mail at 205 S. Erie Street Mercer, PA 16137.

  • Emergency plan that describes the overall concepts of operation that will be put into effect during a disaster or emergency situation.

  • An Emergency Coordinator and Program Manager who coordinate all emergency and disaster relief, preparedness, response, and recovery activities within the Mercer-County areas.

  • An Emergency Operations Center furnished with the technical equipment (telephones, radio communications center,  and weather monitoring equipment) necessary to provide for the coordination and utilization of all resources in the Mercer-County Area in an emergency or disaster situation.

  • An Emergency Operations Center Staff selected from private, public, volunteer, and governmental areas with special knowledge of functions performed during an emergency or disaster situation.

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Why prepare?

  • Most disasters do not make national headlines.

  • Neither government nor voluntary emergency response organizations can be everywhere helping everyone who needs assistance immediately following a disaster,

  • There are preparedness actions people can take to increase their chances of survival and ability to cope in a range of disaster situations.

  • As individual citizens, families, and neighborhoods are always the first line of protection in a disaster, people have the responsibility to learn about the hazards they face and how to prepare for them.

  • A prepared family can reduce the fear, panic, inconvenience and losses surrounding a disaster.  They can save each others lives.


  • Help you develop an emergency plan showing family members how to get out of the house.

  • Assist you in identifying who to contact and where to go in case of an emergency.

  • Explain how to provide for your family in case you are trapped in your car, asked to evacuate your residence, or compelled to stay in your home for an extended period of time.

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Outdoor Warning Systems...


This three to five minute STEADY siren blast is used to get the attention of residents outside.  During tornado season, this signal also means that a TORNADO  has been sighted.   This signal may also be used to alert the public of a HAZARDOUS MATERIAL INCIDENT.   Upon hearing this signal residents should take shelter  immediately and turn on their televisions or radios for further information..  

  • There are no " ALL CLEAR" siren signals.  All clears come from the television or radio stations.

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Tornado Facts...

  • Tornado Watch

A Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued whenever conditions exist for severe weather to develop.    This is time for you to prepare.  LISTEN TO THE LOCAL RADIO OR TELEVISION STATIONS FOR WEATHER UPDATES.

  • Tornado Warning

A Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued whenever a tornado or severe thunderstorm has actually been sighted or strongly indicated by radar.  This is the time to TAKE APPROPRIATE COVER IMMEDIATELY. 

  • What Kind of Shelter is Available to You?

In Your Home:

A basement offers the greatest safety.  In homes without basements, take cover in the center of the house, on the lowest floor, in a small room such as a closet or bathroom.  In either case, seek shelter under sturdy furniture if possible.

In a Mobile Home:

Go to a prearranged substantial shelter.

Driving in a Vehicle:

Get out of and away from the vehicle, seek shelter in a basement, ditch or ravine.

At Work or School:

Follow advance plans to move into interior hallways or small rooms on the lowest level.  Avoid areas with glass and wide, free span roofs.  (Schools, Factories, and Office Buildings should designate someone to monitor NOAA Radio or the weather channels and initiate an alarm if needed.

In Open Country:

Get into a sturdy building if possible, or lie in a nearby flat ditch or depression.  If possible, hold onto something on the ground or otherwise use your hands to shield your head.


Lighting is the greatest natural destroyer of property.  When Severe Thunderstorms are Active, Take Extreme Caution and be Aware that Lightning Bolts Occur from Severe Thunderstorm Activity that can be Several Mile Away!

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Flooding and Flash Floods

There are several areas within Mercer County that have potential for both Flooding and Flash Flooding.    Here are some tips to prepare your household and your family in the event of a Flood or Flash Flood.

Before the Flood:

  1. Check with your Township officials to determine whether you live on or near a flood plain.

  2. If you live on a Flood plain, you should stockpile emergency building materials.

  3. Have check valves installed in your building sewer or drain field lines to prevent flood waters from backing up into your buildings.


  5. Plan and practice an evacuation plan.

  6. Have emergency supplies on hand.

  7. Develop an emergency communications plan.

  8. Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a flood or flash flood.

If in a Car

  1. Don't drive over flooded roads.

  2. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

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Your Emergency Plan

Create an Emergency Action Plan

Meet with your family and discuss why an Emergency Action Plan is needed.  Explain the dangers of fire and severe weather. Plan to share responsibility and work together.

Family Protection Plan                                                                                                              Emergency Meeting Place if possible                                                                                    
Meeting Place                                                                     Telephone                                   
Family Contact                                                                                                                          
Telephone                                                  Telephone                                                            
                                     day                                                            evening

Fill out, copy and distribute to all family members.

Remember to HELP OTHERS

There may be physically or mentally challenged, or elderly residents in your neighborhood that could use special attention during an emergency.

  • Make a list of those neighbors.

  • Ask for their telephone numbers and addresses, if they are comfortable with you having them.

  • If disaster strikes, contact those neighbors to make sure they are ok.

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Hazardous Materials...

If you are OUTSIDE:

  • Stay upstream, uphill, and upwind - hazardous materials can be quickly transported by water and wind.

  • Move so the wind is blowing left to right or vice versa, NOT into your face or back.

  • Try to get at least one-half mile from the danger area.

  • Follow the instructions from your local police or fire officials.

If you are INSIDE:

  • Turn on your radio, television, or public information cable channel and be prepared to follow instructions provided by emergency service officials.

  • Try to reduce the possibility of toxic vapors entering your home, seal all entry routes as  efficiently as possible.

Close and lock all doors.

Seal gaps under doorways and windows with wet towels and duct tape.

Close all fireplace dampers.

Turn off all ventilation systems (furnaces, air conditioners, vents, fans)      

  • Stay Inside.

  • If you suspect vapors have entered your home, take shallow breaths through a wet cloth or towel.


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Disaster Kits for your home...

The following supplies should be stocked within your home in case an emergency confines you and your family.  Other emergencies may require that you evacuate your home, in which case the following supplies should be taken with you.


Store in non-breakable containers (Milk Jugs, Plastic Pop Bottles)
  Water in the Hot Water Tank (20-60) gallons
  Fill bath tub as soon as possible, then turn off intake valve to residence.
  For cooking, washing, and sanitation.
  Ice cubes, milk soft drinks, fruit and vegetable juices.
  Water in the flush tank (not the bowels) of home toilets.
  Water beds can hold 400 gallons, but may contain toxins.  To use as a water source, drain yearly and refill with 2 oz. bleach per 120 gallons.
METHOD # 1 TO PURIFY WATER: Strain water or allow to settle for 24 hours to remove dirt.
  Boil water for 10 minutes
  Add oxygen to improve the taste of water by pouring it back and forth between two containers.
METHOD # 2 TO PURIFY WATER: Strain water or allow to settle 24 hours to remove dirt
  Add ONE of the following purifying agents PER GALLON of water:

Four water purifying tablets


12 drops of tincture iodine


8 drops of liquid chlorine bleach



Special Dietary Foods/ Supplies 
(For Diabetics & Babies)
Keep on hand at least two week supply of infant formula.

A Heating Source 
(Camp of Canned Heat Stove)

Never use charcoal grill indoors
  Always remember to provide adequate ventilation when cooking
  Stock extra fuel


Two week supply (rotate yearly)
  Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
  Smoked or dried meats such as jerky
  Juices - canned, powered or crystallized fruit and vegetable juices
  Remember foods for your pets

Cooking and Eating Utensils

Stock pots, pans, and disposable dinnerware, bottle and can openers

Sanitation Supplies

Limited water supply may make restroom unusable
  Stock toilet paper, sanitary napkins, chlorine bleach, soap, towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving supplies
  Emergency toilet; water tight container with lid, lined with plastic bag
  Pour a little chlorine into the toilet after each use.
  Large garbage cans with lids, lined with plastic bags,  for human wastes and garbage
  Waste and garbage should be buried 1-2 feet deep, to prevent disease


Blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags


Be sure to pack ample supply of clothing for several days

First Aid Kit and Manual 

 Home medicine chest should be well  stocked at all times
  Periodically check expiration dates on medications

Battery Powered Radio, Flashlight, Extra Batteries 

 If you suspect a gas leak, do not use a flashlight.  The light could cause an explosion.

Fire Extinguisher

A hand-pumped 5 gallon type for use in small places       
  Buckets of sand, ladder, garden hose

Tools and Equipment

Hammer, pliers, screwdriver, wrench, nails screws, shovel, axe


Do not forget to get matches

Citizen's Band Radio 

 Maintain a 24 hour communications & safety watch
Know How To Turn Your Utilities Off & On Make sure you have the tools you need to do this

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Hundreds of times each year, people are forced  to leave their homes because of hurricanes, transportation or industrial accidents releasing harmful substances, fires, or power outages from ice storms.  You may have only moments to leave, and should be prepared.  Evacuation periods can last for hours or several days.  For part or all of this time, you may be completely responsible for yourself and your family.


  • Turn on your radio, television, or public service cable channel and be prepared to follow all instructions given by your public safety officials.

  • Take your disaster supplies kit.

  • Lock your home as you leave.

  • Post a note on the door telling others where you have gone.

  • Use travel routes specified by public safety officials only.  Other routes may be dangerous.


  • Shut off the water, gas, and electricity before leaving.

  • Turn off the main water valve.

  • Tie a white ribbon or cloth on the front doorknob so emergency authorities can easily identify which homes have been evacuated.

  • Make arrangements for your pets, they will not be allowed into the shelters.

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Home Escape Plan...

  • Gather your family together.  It is important that this activity involves every member of the family.
  • On a piece of paper, draw a floor plan of your home.  Be sure to indicate where the doors and windows are located. 
  • Decide upon a family meeting spot and draw it on the piece of paper.  This can be a neighbor's house, a tree, a mailbox or anything that is away from the house. 
  • Have each family member draw two ways out of their room.  Discuss the importance of how to safely exit out a secondary exit if the main door or path is blocked by fire.
  • Make sure that every family member knows two ways out of every room and that once you are out of the house, you do not go back inside.
  • Conduct a practice drill by having every family member go to their room.
  • Press the test button on your smoke detector to start the fire drill.
  • Have each family member test the door to their room for heat by placing the back of their hand against the door.  If the door was hot, they would have to go out their secondary exit.
  • Teach each family member to crawl low to the ground while exiting to stay below the toxic smoke.
  • Make sure that every family member gets out of the house safely and meets at the family meeting spot.
  • Remind your family to call 9-1-1 once they are out of the house if there is a fire.
  • Practice your home escape plan monthly to ensure that each family member remembers what to do in case of a fire

Tips for developing an escape plan:

  • Using graph paper makes it easier to draw your floor plan.
  • Make sure that each family member can open the windows and take out screens quickly.
  • Most house fires occur at night when people are sleeping, practice a fire drill in the dark to simulate the low light conditions produced by fire.
  • Be sure to develop simple symbols to mark the following:
Normal Exit Routes Emergency Exit Routes Fire Extinguishers    Smoke Detectors 
First Aid Kit Disaster Supplies Kit   Reunion Locations Windows
Collapsible Ladder Doors Utilities Shutoffs


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Fire Education.....

In Case of Fire... Do not open a HOT door, try your second escape route
  Smoke rises; crawl close to the floor and out of the house
  Call the Fire Department from another location
If your clothes catch fire... STOP, DROP AND ROLL UNTIL THE FIRE IS OUT

Quiz family members every six months on disaster and evacuation procedures.

Test all smoke detectors every three months and test the batteries yearly.

Test and recharge fire extinguishers according to the manufacturers instructions.

Create a chart similar to these below to keep track of your fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and disaster drill preparations.

Smoke Detector Testing Dates
Month Date Month Date
January   July  
February   August  
March   September  
April   October  
May   November  
June   December  


Fire Extinguisher Testing Dates
Month Date Month Date
January   July  
February   August  
March   September  
April   October  
May   November  
June   December  


Date of Drill Type of Drill Participants


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Disaster kits for your vehicle...

Keep your car equipped with supplies useful in any emergency.  Always have a full tank of fuel in the car.   If there is an emergency, gas stations may be closed.

Battery Powered Radio and Extra Batteries Flashlight and Extra Batteries Blanket Jumper Cables
Fire Extinguisher First Aid Kit and Manual Maps Shovel
Tire Repair Kit and Pump Flares Bottled Water Non Perishable, High Energy Foods

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Evacuation kits for your home

A fire or other emergency may require immediate exit of your home.  The following items should be in a portable container, accessible so it can be grabbed as you run out the door.

Battery Powered Radio and Extra Batteries Flashlight and Extra Batteries Cash, ATM Card, Traveler's Checks, Change, Credit Cards Extra Pair of Eye Glasses
Extra Set of Car Keys Important Family Documents in Portable, Fireproof Container  Social Security Cards, Marriage & death Certificates, Insurance Policies, Birth Certificates, Wills, Deeds, Stocks & Bonds, Savings & Checking Account Numbers, Inventory of Household Goods and Valuables (with pictures if possible)  

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Recovery from a Disaster...

Listen to one of the Local Radio or Television Stations for Information and Instructions.


  • Use caution when entering a building, making sure that the walls, ceiling and roof are in place and that the structure rests firmly on the foundation.

  • Watch for broken glass and downed power lines.

  • Check for injuries and if necessary, call for help immediately.


  • If you are the homeowner, see that your home is secure.

  • If you are a tenant, secure your personal belongings and contact your landlord.  It is the responsibility   of the property owner to prevent further loss or damage to the site.

  • Contact your insurance agent about estimates and loss coverage.

  • Contact the Red Cross or the Salvation Army if you need temporary housing or food.

  • Have an electrician check your wiring before the current is turned back on.  Do not attempt to reconnect any utilities yourself.

  • Discard food, beverages, and medicines that have been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot.

  • Immediately after the fire, collect receipts for any money you spend.  These are important for both insurance and income tax claims.

  • Do not open a fire proof box until it has cooled.  If the box has not cooled, the entering air combined with the high internal temperature may cause the contents to burst into flames.


  • Do not return home until local authorities say it is safe.

  • Upon returning home, open windows to provide ventilation.

  • Find out from local authorities how to clean up your land and property.

  • Check Food and water supplies for contamination and spoilage before using them.


Flood waters do not end when the water begins to recede.  Listen to the local radio or television stations for further details of the flooding situation.

Do not enter buildings if flood waters recede around the building.

  • When you have to enter buildings use extreme caution.

  • Look for fire hazards.

  • Do not use water or eat food that has come in contact with flood waters.

  • Pump out flooded basements gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage.

  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible.  Damaged sewer systems are a health hazard.

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Babysitter / Visitor Information

We use babysitters often.  Whether they are people from our family or recruited from the community, most are not familiar with our home and where are emergency information can be obtained.  When we place trust of our loved ones with others, it is only appropriate to all concerned to know how to take care of emergencies when they occur. 

Location Address Where I am Babysitting:  
This Telephone Number is:  
The Telephone Number for Hearing Impaired:  
9-1-1   If you need Police, Fire or Ambulance to respond. (724) 662-6110 For Non-Emergencies

The location where the parents are at:


Telephone number for the parents:

They will Return Home at Approximately: 


The Home Emergency Plan in Located in the   
The Emergency Kit is Located:  
The Family Doctor is:  
Family Doctor Telephone Number   
Relative or Neighbor:     
Relative / Neighbor telephone number  


Don't open the door for anyone until you are sure you know who they are.
  Keep all doors locked.
  Know where the children are playing whether inside or outside the residence.

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