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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do in case of fire?

If the fire is in your house, get out and call 9-1-1 from another location.  If you see a fire somewhere else, try to give the telecommunicators as much information about what is on fire and where as possible.

What happens when I call 9-1-1?

If the call is an emergency a telecommunicator will ask you important questions as to where the call is, and what type of call it is.  Stay on the line and answer the questions.  This does not slow down dispatch.  During an emergency call,  another telecommunicator is dispatching the proper agencies while you are answering the questions.  For more information click on When You Call 9-1-1

What does HazMat mean?

This is an acronym which refers to hazardous materials.  Hazardous materials are chemicals, hydrocarbons, or other man-made compounds that have accidentally been released from their containers.  Hazardous materials can be found stored in homes, at businesses and being transported on highways and railroads.

How do smoke detectors work?

There are two types of smoke detectors -  ionization and  photo-electric.  The function of both is the same.  When smoke or smoke particulates are detected, an alarm will sound.  This alarm is usually a high-pitched steady tone and the detector may have flashing or strobe lights.  Smoke detectors are either hard-wired or battery operated or a combination of the two.  When a smoke detector starts giving a low occasional chirping sound, this indicates that your battery is going dead.  If you buy a smoke detector, read the manufacturers' direction completely.

What should I do if I am told to evacuate?

In most cases you are given instructions at the time of the evacuation orders.  These instructions may be to carry certain things to a shelter with you or in some cases (such as a hazardous material leak), you may be told to leave immediately.  It is extremely important that you follow directions at the time you are told to evacuate.  You should be told where to go and how to get there.  In some cases you may be able to drive your car; in some cases you may be told to walk.

What supplies do I need to keep on hand for the first 72-hour survival?

Basically you need food, water, and human comfort supplies.  See 72-hour Readiness for a detailed listing.

Can my pet be brought to the shelter with me?

Yes; however, pets are not allowed to stay in human shelters.  Arrangements are made for Animal Protection or Animal Control to receive your pet and carry it to a pet shelter for the duration of your stay.

Where can I get food and/or water?

You should have enough food and water on hand for your family for 72-hours as part of your preparedness.  When disasters last longer, disaster control authorities will be bringing in water and setting up food stations.  People in the affected areas will be informed as to the location of these two distribution places.

How will I know which roads are impassable?

Listen to the public media.  Most media outlets work with the Department of Transportation to give road condition reports.   Do not call 9-1-1 because they do not have the information readily available.  9-1-1 deals only with local roads for emergency response purposes.

What is the difference between a watch and a warning?

A watch simply means conditions are favorable for something to happen.  A warning means it is going to happen.

How can I find out if my home is in a flood plain and what does that mean?

Call your local planning and zoning office.  They can give you information as to whether you are in the flood plain. Being in a flood plain means that you live in an area subject to flooding by creeks or rivers leaving their banks  because of heavy rains, snow run-offs, etc.

How long will my frozen food last after a power outage?

This depends on the type freezer you have (whether upright or chest type).  Most freezers if not opened will keep food 24 to 72 hours.  Frozen food that thaws can be cooked immediately and then refrozen.

What should I do if I'm told to shelter in place?

Shelter in place means that you are to stay where you are until advised to do otherwise.  This could be at home, an office, at school or somewhere public.  One of the best descriptions of sheltering in place and the considerations for sheltering in place at home during a storm is at the Ready North Carolina website.

Who do I contact about a bill for Emergency Medical Services?

The Orange County Revenue Department is charged with the duties of billing, filing insurance, and the collection of fees charged for emergency medical services.  More information can be found at the Orange County Revenue website.

What number should I give my alarm company for burglar/fire alarm activations?

Please contact the Emergency Services Data Manager at (919) 245-6100 with the address where the alarm is located to get the appropriate telephone number.