Elkhart County
Health Department

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is an e-mail address required to create my online account?

You must have an e-mail address to create your account access. Your e-mail address is the only way a PIN can be sent to you; the PIN is required to access your personal account. You may wish to consider creating an email address through one of the numerous providers.

Q. Are weapons encouraged to protect your family in the event of a disaster?

The recommendations Ready.gov provides are intended to be the essential items every individual would need for the first 72 hours after a disaster, weapons are not considered among these items. Citizens are encouraged to customize their kits to accommodate their unique considerations; if you feel such items are necessary for 72 hours after a disaster you should modify your emergency kit accordingly.

Q. For products in an emergency kit without an expiration date, is there a time frame that they should be used within?

For products that have no expiration date the only rule of thumb would be to look for any obvious signs of wear and tear. Products should not be used if there’s signs of damage, degradation, or discoloring.

Q. How can my business or organization work with FEMA?

If your business or organization is interested in working with FEMA, please visit the Doing Business with FEMA page to find information and register.

Not everyone that helps our nation prepare for and respond to emergencies works directly for FEMA. You can also volunteer to serve your community by getting involved. Learn how by visiting Ready.gov's Get Involved webpage.

Q. Why is a 2 year shelf-life suggested for storing commercially prepared water but only 6 months recommended for store-it-yourself waters?

When individuals bottle water themselves, they're more likely to get contaminants in it that could risk harm after years of germination. By switching out personally bottled water more often an individual citizen can ensure that their stock is safe, as opposed to professionally bottle water which is likely packaged in cleaner and lower risk environment.

Also, commercial grade plastic is High Density Polly Propylene, are less porous than soda bottles which individual citizens might use for bottling, and are therefore less likely to leach in outside agents.

Q. When should someone evacuate versus sheltering-in-place?

Local officials are the best source of information when determining whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place. In the event of an emergency, individuals should listen to their radios and follow the directions of the emergency officials.

In general, sheltering-in-place is appropriate when conditions require that you seek immediate protection in your home, place of employment, school or other location when disaster strikes.

People should take steps to prepare in advance in case local officials direct you to evacuate. This includes having a disaster supply kit that is portable and can be taken with you.

Q. Where can I purchase solar chargers and crank radios?

Several vendors produce solar powered and hand crank weather radios that offer additional features like the ability to charge one's mobile phone or provide light like a flashlight. No standards currently exist for these products, the only recommendations the federal government can provide is to research each product and purchase the one you feel most meets your needs.

Q. How long can a family stay in a sealed shelter-in-place room? Will we run out of air to breathe?

DHS recommends that individuals allow ten square feet of floor space per person in order to provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide build up for up to 5 hours assuming a normal breathing rate while resting.

Many chemical releases would be diluted within a few hours, so the direction to shelter-in-place would likely be made for a short time period while a chemical cloud dissipates.

Q. Can you clarify your recommendations on the storage of medications in an emergency kit?

Always keep a written copy of your prescriptions and orders for medical equipment and supplies with you, a list of all medications, equipment and supplies you use (including over-the-counter) and perhaps an electronic copy on a flash drive, even if you don’t use a computer. And, if you use prescription medications or consumable medical supplies, and can’t easily obtain an emergency supply, ask your insurance company to assist you in obtaining and maintaining enough medication and supplies to have on hand in case you must shelter in place unexpectedly.

If you are able to obtain an emergency supply, be sure to establish a plan for rotating your supply so it remains up-to-date. If you are unable to obtain an emergency supply, be sure to always fill prescriptions on the first day you become eligible for a refill, rather than waiting until the day you run out.

Q. Why do you shelter above ground for a chemical and biological attack vs. below ground for a radiological or nuclear attack? What floor of the house should the shelter-in-place room be located on?

  • In a chemical attack, the contaminants are typically distributed in an aerosol that is heavier than air near the release of the chemical. As such, it will settle to the ground.
  • However, as the vapor plume is carried down wind, the concern about settling in low-lying areas is reduced. With this in mind, the best room for sheltering-in-place is the room that is the most convenient for your family to quickly get to and seal that is large enough to provide appropriate air for several hours.

With regards to a radiological or nuclear attack, the more shielding, distance and time you can take advantage of after such an attack, the less exposure you will face. The additional distance from the blast of a nuclear weapon provided by being below ground also offers an increased level of protection.

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Office Location:

Lincoln Center
608 Oakland Avenue
Elkhart, IN 46516-2116
Phone: (574) 523-2126
Fax: (574) 522-2192
Toll Free: 1-877-523-2283

Office Hours:

Monday: 8:00am-5:00pm
Tuesday through Friday: 8:00am*-4:00pm

*Due to staff in-service, our office will open at 9:00am on the second Thursday of February, May, August, and November and on the first Thursday in December.