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What to do in a major emergency

This page contains advice from the Suffolk Resilience (new window) on what to do should a major emergency occur in the district.

Suffolk Resilience is responsible for planning the multi-agency (such as the emergency services, the NHS, local councils, etc) response to major emergencies.

What is likely to cause a major emergency?

The most likely causes of major emergencies are:

  • Natural disasters, such as storms and flooding.
  • Major transport accidents.
  • Environmental pollution, such as toxic gas or a radioactive cloud.
  • Acts of terrorism.

What should I do?

If you are a witness, dial 999 and alert the police, fire or ambulance services.

If you are in a building that is on fire - get out and stay out.

If you are stranded in your home, tune in to your local radio station and television for advice (listen out for emergency telephone numbers).

Pass on any warnings to neighbours, and check on the elderly and disabled, if it is safe to do so.

Limit your telephone calls - this helps to prevent the lines getting clogged up with unnecessary calls, and allows the emergency services and others to use the lines if necessary.

Go in, stay in and tune in

In the majority of major incidents you will be advised to shelter (go in), remain there until further advised by the emergency services (stay in), and listen to local radio stations for more information (tune in).

Go indoors - close doors and windows and shut down ventilation systems if it is safe to do so. Unless there is an obvious risk to the property this will give you good short-term protection against the vast majority of hazards.

Stay indoors - until you know more about the situation and the appropriate action you need to take to protect yourself further. The action you should take will be different depending on the nature of the incident, so you could put yourself at more risk by not waiting for further instructions.

Tune in - to local radio and television to find out more about what is happening:

If I am alerted by the police what can I expect?

You may be asked to stay indoors and close outside doors and windows.

If the police ask you to leave your home:

  • Please follow their instructions - their prime responsibility is your safety and they will know more than you about the level of danger.
  • They will probably ask you to go to a rest centre - if you decide to go anywhere else, let them know so you can be accounted for.
  • If there is time, take warm clothing, special food for babies and any medicines you may need.
  • Before you leave, switch off gas and electrical appliances, and put out coal burning fires.

General preparations

You may find it useful to keep the following items in an 'emergency box' in your home in case of emergencies:

  • Torch and batteries - remember to check the batteries every now and then!
  • Candles and matches in a safe container.
  • Portable radio and batteries.
  • Something to drink - cans of drink, bottled water, etc.
  • Notebook, pens and pencils.
  • Something to occupy the children!

Make sure medicines, toiletries, spare contact lenses, etc. are easily available to put in the box when necessary.

Flood warnings

Flood warnings (new window), three day flood risk forecasts, information on river and sea levels and online flood warning services can be found on the Environment Agency website.

If you are in a flood risk area you can sign up for Floodline Warnings Direct, a free service provided by the Environment Agency that provides flood warnings direct to you by telephone, mobile, email, text message and fax. You can sign up online (new window) or by calling the Environment Agency's Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

Preparing for flooding and what to do during a flood

If you know that you live in an area that is liable to flood, Don't wait until it happens. Prepare, make plans and discuss with your family what you will do and where to go, before a flood happens.

Sizewell power stations emergency information

Emergency information for residents living near the Sizewell power stations can be found by following the links below: