Emergency preparedness


Alerts & Warnings



Severe Thunderstorms



Intense Heat


Contagious Disease

Contagious Disease


Power Outage
Power Outage



Shelter in Place

Shelter in Place (when to stay where you are)

Alerts & WarningsAlerts & Warnings


The Rainsville Police Department orRainsville Fire Department may try to notify you about a possible hazard by driving through your neighborhood while sounding their vehicle sirens. If you hear the sirens in your neighborhood:
  • Stop what you are doing.
  • Stay calm.
  • Listen for possible voice announcements coming from the emergency vehicles.
  • Turn on the radio or television, there may be important information provided by the city.
  • Avoid using the telephone.
  • Do not call 9-1-1, unless you have a life-threatening emergency.


If you are indoors when shaking starts:

  • "DROP, COVER AND HOLD ON." If you are not near a strong table or desk, drop to the floor against an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.
  • Avoid windows, hanging objects, mirrors, tall furniture, large appliances and cabinets filled with heavy objects.
  • Do not try to run out of the structure during strong shaking. .
  • If you are in bed, stay there and cover your head with a pillow.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels and cover your head.

If you are outdoors when shaking starts:

  • Move to a clear area if you can safely walk. Avoid power lines, buildings and trees.
  • If you?re driving, pull to the side of the road and stop. Avoid stopping under overhead hazards

Once the earthquake shaking stops:

  • Check the people around you for injuries; provide first aid. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger.
  • Check around you for dangerous conditions, such as fires, downed power lines and structure damage.
  • If you have fire extinguishers and are trained to use them, put out small fires immediately.
  • Turn off gas only if you smell gas.
  • Check your phones to be sure they have not shaken off the hook and are tying up a line.
  • Inspect your home for damage.

If you are trapped in debris:

  • Move as little as possible so that you don?t kick up dust. Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort.


Severe storms can cause flooding, uprooted trees, and downed utility lines. Tune to regional or local TV channels for emergency advisories and instructions.

  • If water has entered a garage or basement, do not walk through it - it may contain hazardous materials.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately. Attempting to move a stalled vehicle in flood conditions can be fatal.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, disconnect all electrical appliances.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Stay clear of water that is in contact with downed power lines.
  • Do not allow children to play around high water, storm drains or any flooded areas.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, shut off electric circuits. If advised by your local utility, shut off gas supply line as well.

For more information contact:

City of Rainsville
Police Chief Charles Centers
42 McCurdy Ave South
Rainsville, AL 35986
(256) 638-2157 office
(256) 899-2932 cell

Severe ThunderstormsSevere Thunderstorms

When severe weather threatens, do you know what to do?
Here's what you can do to stay safe:

Know the Difference between a 'Watch' and 'Warning'

  • A 'Watch' means that severe weather is possible.. something bad could happen, so keep and eye to the sky and stay close to a source of weather information.
  • A 'Warning' means some kind of severe weather (tornado, severe thunderstorms, flood) has been spotted by someone or detected by radar.. you have to take cover immediately!

Before Lightning is About to Strike

  • Watch the sky for approaching dark clouds, increasing winds, and flashes of light.
  • Listen for thunder.
  • "Lightning is the first thunderstorm hazard to arrive and the last to leave," according to the U.S. National Weather Service. If thunder can be heard, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, and you should take shelter immediately. As always with lightning, is it important to remember: When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Lightning can actually strike outside the storm that produced it. Although most lightning will strike within 10 miles of its parent thunderstorm, it can strike much farther away. On rare occasions, lightning-detection equipment has recorded lightning striking up to 50 miles away from the thunderstorm.
  • Keep up to date on weather forecasts through local TV stations and NOAA Weather Radio.

Steps to Take as a Storm Approaches

  • Seek shelter in a building or vehicle (avoid convertibles). Keep windows closed.
  • Avoid using electrical equipment/appliances, and preferably, unplug things such as televisions, air conditioners, and computers. Electrical lines are excellent conductors of electricity. (Leaving electric lights on, however, does not increase the chances of your home being struck by lightning.)
  • Using a phone with a cord during a thunderstorm is not a good idea because an electrical shock may be transmitted along the phone cord to you. In fact, the use of any electrical appliance should be avoided. Talking on a cordless / wireless phone indoors is not considered a high-risk activity, even during an electrical storm. However, using a cell phone outside should be avoided because the metal in the phone may act as a lightning rod.
  • Do not take baths or showers during storms, as water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Use as little water as possible during storms.
  • Draw blinds and shades over windows as a precaution to prevent windows shattering into your home, should they be broken by blowing debris.

If You are Caught Outdoors:

  • Attempt to seek shelter in a vehicle or building.
  • If no structure is available, stay as low to the ground as possible. However, avoid sitting or lying down on the ground. Most lightning that injures people strikes the earth and travels through the ground; for this reason, the less contact you have with the ground the better.
  • In the woods, find a group of smaller trees. Avoid standing under single tall trees. Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas.
  • Get as small as you can by crouching on your knees.
  • Remember to avoid tall structures, such as towers, tall trees, fences, telephone lines, or power lines. Also avoid golf clubs, tractors, fishing rods, bicycles, and camping equipment. All are excellent electrical conductors.
  • Stay away from all types of bodies of water. If you are boating or swimming, get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, which indicates that lightning is about to strike, drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

Stuck in a Vehicle:

  • Find a safe place on the side of the road and pull over. Make sure there are not any trees that could blow over onto the car.
  • Put on emergency flashers, especially during heavier rains.
  • Remain in the car, only leaving in the case of a flash flood.
  • Watch for possible flash flooding. Should you notice the beginnings of flooding, abandon your vehicle, and seek higher ground immediately.
  • Avoid flooded roadways.

Safety Steps to Take Indoors:

  • Secure outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture, that could blow away or cause damage or injury.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information.
  • Do not use any electrical equipment or telephones, especially television sets. Lightning could follow the wire into the house, and do extensive damage to electrical equipment, such as air conditioners and TV's. Use telephones ONLY in an emergency.
  • Do not take a bath or shower. Metal pipes can transmit electricity.

If Someone is Struck by Lightning:

  • eople who have been struck by lightning can be cared for safety, and do not carry any type of electrical charge.
  • Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1.
  • Look for burn marks on the victim's body where the charge both entered and exited. Lightning strikes can also cause neurological damage, broken bones, and loss of sight or hearing.
  • Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR. If the person has a pulse and is breathing, look for and care for other possible injuries.


Frequency of Tornadoes

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year.

  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m. but have been known to occur at all hours of the day or night.
  • The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction. The average forward speed is 30 mph, but may vary from nearly stationary to 200 mph.

What To Listen For

  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in our area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. If a tornado warning is issued for your area and the sky becomes threatening, move to your pre-designated place of safety.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in our area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe thunderstorms are occurring.
    Remember, tornadoes occasionally develop in areas in which a severe thunderstorm watch or warning is in effect. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.

Who?s Most At Risk?

  • People in automobiles.
  • The elderly, very young and the physically or mentally impaired.
  • People in mobile homes.
  • People who may not understand the warning due to a language barrier.

Tornado Myths

MYTH: Areas near rivers, lakes, and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FACT:No terrain feature can prevent the occurrence of a tornado. As recently as April 2011, multiple tornados swept through DeKalb County and Northeast Alabama, leaving a path of destruction throughout our area mountains and water bodies.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to "explode" as the tornado passes overhead.
FACT: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FACT: Opening windows allows damaging wind to enter the structure. Leave the windows alone; instead, immediately go to a safe place.

Tornado Safety: What You Can Do

Before the Storm:

  • Develop a plan for yourself and your family for home, work, school and when outdoors. Call the Rainsville Police Department for assistance.
  • Have frequent drills.
  • Have a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and a battery backup to receive warnings.
  • Listen to radio and television for information.
  • If planning a trip outdoors, listen to the latest forecasts and take necessary action if threatening weather is possible.

If a warning is issued or if threatening weather approaches:

  • In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.
  • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
  • If available sit in the tub/shower.
  • Stay away from windows and sit with your back against a wall with your head between your knees while sitting through the storm.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead leave it immediately.
  • If caught outside or in a vehicle, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression.
  • Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.

Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that advance warning is not possible. Remain alert for signs of an approaching tornado. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most deaths and injuries.

It?s up to you!

Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes despite advance warning. Some did not hear the warning while others received the warning but did not believe a tornado would actually affect them. The preparedness information in this section combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings could save your life in the event a tornado threatens your area. After you have received the warning or observed threatening skies, YOU must make the decision to seek shelter before the storm arrives. It could be the most important decision you will ever make! Locations for public storm shelters can be found here.

Intense HeatIntense Heat

The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person?s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves.

Several factors affect the body?s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

How to protect against heat-related illness:

  • Slow down, and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Avoid sunburn. Stay in the shade, wear protective clothing, and use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) and ultraviolet type A (UVA) rating.
  • Conserve electricity other than that being used for cooling equipment.
  • If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public building with air conditioning each day for several hours.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath.
  • Dress appropriately:
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that will cover as much skin as possible.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat when outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies.
  • Avoid extremely cold drinks, which can cause cramping.
  • Avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • If you are taking water pills or you limit the amount of fluid you drink on your doctor?s orders, ask how much you should drink during hot weather.
  • If you take medications, check with your doctor to see if you need to take extra precautions in extreme heat.
  • If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
  • Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat.
  • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Never leave children, elderly or functional needs adults, or pets alone in closed vehicles.

Protecting your pets from heat emergencies:

Heat stress can cause brain and organ damage in dogs, cats and other pets. Symptoms of heat stress include heavy panting, glaze eyes, a rapid heartbeat, restlessness, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, and unconsciousness. If an animal shows symptoms of heatstroke, gradually lower its temperature through these steps:

  • Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to its head, neck and chest, or
  • Immerse the animal in cool (not cold) water.
  • Let the animal drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take the animal to a veterinarian as soon as possible.


Terrorism may involve devastating acts using weapons of mass destruction. These weapons range from chemical agents, biological hazards, a radiological or nuclear device, and other explosives. The primary objective of a terrorist is to create widespread fear.

Be Responsible:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Note the location of emergency exits, pay phones, fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Report suspicious objects, vehicles or persons to public safety authorities.

If There Is a Terrorist Attack or Threat:

  • Stay calm.
  • Be vigilant. Look out for secondary hazards such as falling debris, suspicious packages or persons. Report any concerns to public safety authorities.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency service personnel.
  • Avoid spreading rumors - confirm information with a credible source

Contagious DiseaseContagious Disease

A contagious disease emergency could affect many people. It could cause mild illness, hospitalization, or death in rare cases. In the event of an infectious disease emergency, the Alabama Department of Public Health and county officials will provide up-to-date information and instructions to the public through media and public outreach sources.

To find out how to prepare yourself and your family for a contagious disease emergency, contact

DeKalb County Health Department
401 Calvin Drive, Southwest
Fort Payne, Alabama 35967
(256) 845-1931

Alabama Department of Public Health
Montgomery, Alabama

Transit SafetyTransit Safety

Mass transit systems may be vulnerable to both accidents and terrorist incidents. Mass transit customers should be aware and vigilant. Be well informed and know your surroundings.

  • Review emergency exit information on the vehicle.
  • If you see something, say something! Report all suspicious parcels, bags or containers to the nearest police officer or transit employee. Never touch a suspicious object.
  • In the event of an emergency, remain calm and follow the instructions of transit or rescue personnel.
  • Only use cell phones if you absolutely must as they could interfere with emergency equipment.
  • If you?re instructed to evacuate, take your belongings.
  • If you are traveling with others, stay together.


Immediate risk:

If you smell gas, smoke or see fire or otherwise fear for your safety, evacuate household occupants immediately. From a safe location, call 9-1-1 and report the incident.

General evacuation orders:

If local officials issue evacuation orders, use the evacuation routes and methods specified; carpool whenever possible. If time allows:

  • Wear sturdy shoes, long-sleeve shirts and pants.
  • Bring car keys, credit cards, road maps, cell phone, charger and important phone numbers.
  • Bring your Go Bag
  • If you have a pet, make sure it is wearing a collar, bring it in a pet carrier labeled with your name and the pet?s name. Bring your pet?s Go-bag.
  • Lock your home and shut off the water and electricity, but leave gas on unless instructed otherwise.
  • Leave a note or tell a neighbor where you are going.
  • Once you arrive at a safe location, call your out-of-area emergency contact.

Disaster Shelters:

Immediately following a large disaster, suitable shelter sites will be selected from a predestinated list based on areas of need and estimated numbers of displaced persons. Each site must be inspected for safety prior to being opened to the public. Therefore, it is not possible to say with advance certainty which sites will actually operate as disaster shelters. As soon as disaster sites have been formally designated, this list will be announced through local media to the public. If it is unsafe to shelter-in-place, and you do not have an alternative, evacuate to a designated emergency shelter.

  • Tell your out-of area-contact where you are going.
  • Take your Go-bag with you to the shelter.
  • Initially, emergency shelters may not be able to provide basic supplies and materials. Consider bringing extra items (e.g. blanket, pillow, air mattress, towel, washcloth, diapers, food and supplies for infants.)
  • Provide for your pet only if service animals are allowed in ?human? shelters. If you cannot make other plans for your pets, Animal Care and Control staff will be available at ?human? shelters to help with pet sheltering needs.

Power OutagePower Outage

Power cuts can occur due to rolling blackouts, extreme weather conditions, or can accompany other disasters such as earthquakes. If there is no power in your neighborhood:

  • Turn off and unplug appliances and computers. Leave one light on to indicate when power has been restored.
  • Avoid using candles, as they are fire hazards.
  • Do not use a gas stove for heating or operate generators indoors (including the garage.) Both could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If a traffic signal is not working, treat it as a stop sign.
  • See the food section to learn about food safety when your refrigerator?s power is off.
Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative

(256) 638-2153or (877) 843-2512


If your smoke alarm goes off or you see a fire:

  • Remain calm and get out.
  • If you see smoke under the door, find another way out.
  • Feel the door with the back of your hand before you open it. If it is hot, find another way out.
  • Drop to the floor to avoid smoke and fumes. Crawl to safety.
  • If your clothes catch on fire, STOP where you are, DROP to the ground and ROLL over and over to smother the flames.
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe location. Stay on the line until the operator hangs up.
  • If you are trapped in a burning building, stay near a window and close to the floor. If possible, signal for help.
  • Do not go back inside the building unless instructed that it is safe to do so.

Shelter in PlaceShelter in Place

One of the instructions you may be given in an emergency is to shelter-in-place. This means you should stay indoors until authorities tell you it is safe or you are told to evacuate.

  • Select a small, interior room, with no or few windows.
  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems. Close the fireplace damper.
  • Bring your family disaster supply kit and make sure the radio is working.
  • Bring your pets.
  • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room you select (cellular telephone equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency)
  • Use duct tape and plastic sheeting (heavier than food wrap) to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
  • Listen to your radio or television for further instructions or updates.
  • If you are in your car, close windows and turn off vents and air conditioning.

Emergency preparedness home

Make a plan

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What to do in the event of...

Links: additional online resources

FInd a public storm shelter

Alert DeKalb logo
Sign up online for the DeKalb County EMA's severe weather alerts

Alabama Saf-T-Net
Sign up for SAF-T-NET

Got shelter?
If you have a private storm shelter, register it with the Rainsville Fire Department so they can find you in case of storm damage. MORE INFO.

Rainsville Emergency Numbers:


Rainsville Police
(256) 638-2157

RainsvilleFire Dept
(256) 638-8055

RainsvilleCity Hall/
RainsvillePublic Works
(256) 638-6331

Sand Mountain Electric Cooperative
(256) 638-2153

DeKalb-Cherokee Gas

American Red Cross
(256) 845-0202

Dekalb County Dept. of Public Health
(256) 845-1931

DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency
(256) 845-8569