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Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Coalition
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Gig Harbor, WA - USA

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Basic Search and Rescue Guidelines
1. Dress in levis, a cotton shirt, and sturdy boots. Leather gloves, a hard hat and a flashlight are essential. Goggles, a dust mask, and a small first aid kit to take care of your own basic needs are also necessary.

2. Establish who your partner will be. Never conduct a search and rescue alone. Plan your search. Do not wander aimlessly. (Since family members should have been instructed to find a safe spot, drop, cover and hold, target these areas first)

3. Before you enter a room with a closed door, feel the top and bottom of the door with the back of your hand. It if is hot, do not enter. If it is cool, cautiously open the door.

4. Check the door jambs and accompanying walls and ceiling for cracks and splinters. If the room appears unsafe, do not enter.

5. Enter your house low, preferably on your knees. Be alert. Watch for falling objects.

6. While still in the entry way, smell for the odor of natural gas. If you can smell it, open the front and back doors and as many windows as you are able without going inside to provide ventilation. Enter the house only when the smell of gas is gone.

7. While still in the entry way, loudly call out for the family members you are looking for. Listen for a response. If someone answers, ask them to tell you where they are and what type of help they need. Pause occasionally during the search to listen for cries, moans, or other indicators of someone needing help.

8. Systematically search each room. Stay with your partner. Communicate frequently. Pay careful attention to these critical areas: under beds, behind furniture, inside closets, under stairs and inside bath tubs or showers.

9. If it is dark, keep in contact with a wall. It is easy to become disoriented after experiencing trauma, even in your own house. Should you become disoriented, following the wall will eventually lead you back to the original door.

10. If it is dark, slowly sweep each room with your flashlight. Frequently check the floor and the ceiling of the area you are in for hazards. Provide for your own safety first.

11. If you find your missing family member(s), move them as quickly and as safely as possible to the first aid station. If you feel you should not move them, radio for help. Remember: There is no golden rule for risking your life to rescue others. If your attempts are obviously beyond your physical capacity or skill, you may lose your life, and you may endanger others coming to your aid.
Sometimes it takes wisdom and courage to wait for help
Go back to the Family Council page