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Disaster Preparedness Month

September is Disaster Preparedness Month. What better way to celebrate – maybe that’s not quite the correct word – than to create an emergency plan that could possibly save your life (or someone else’s life) in an emergency? Whether you are preparing for natural disasters or a terrorist threat, there are some common steps you need to take to get you through a short-term emergency.

According to the American Red Cross, the following should be considered when creating a disaster preparedness plan:

  1. Plan for the emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live. Be familiar with natural disaster risks in your community. Think about how you will respond to emergencies that are unique to your area, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Think about how you will respond to emergencies that can happen anywhere such as fires or floods. Think about emergencies that may require your family to shelter in place (such as a winter storm) vs. emergencies that may require evacuation (such as a hurricane).
  2. Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency. Choose two places to meet up. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire, and somewhere outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate. Choose an out of area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long-distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should carry emergency contact information in writing and have it on their cell phones.
  1. Plan what to do if you must evacuate. Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there, such as a hotel or motel, the home of friends or relatives a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter. The amount of time you have to leave depends on the type of hazard. If it is a weather condition, like a hurricane, that can be monitored, you might have a day or two to get ready. But many disasters give no time for you to gather even the most necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential. Plan for your pets. Keep a list of pet-friendly hotels or motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes. Remember, if it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for your pets either. writes that it’s important to make an inventory list of your valuables. According to their “10 Simple Steps to Disaster Preparedness – Creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan,” you should record the serial numbers, purchase dates, and physical descriptions of your valuables so that you know what you have. If a fire or tornado destroys your house, that’s no time to try and remember what kind of TV you had. Take pictures, even if it’s just a general picture of each part of the house. This will help with insurance claims and disaster aid.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) recommends making a disaster supplies kit. You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. Or you may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You probably will not have the opportunity to shop or search for the supplies you need. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that members of a household may need in case of a disaster.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit.
The following items are recommended by FEMA for inclusion in your basic disaster supplies kit:

  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Stock canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation.
  • A three-day supply of water – one gallon of water per person, per day.
  • Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
  • Matches and waterproof container.
  • Whistle.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
  • Photocopies of credit and ID cards.
  • Cash and coins.
  • Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eyeglasses, contact lens solution, and hearing aid batteries.
  • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
  • Other items to meet your unique family needs.

If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person including:

  • Jacket or coat.
  • Long pants.
  • Long sleeve shirt.
  • Sturdy shoes.
  • Hat, mittens, and scarf.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket (per person).

Creating a disaster preparedness plan before an emergency strikes could save your life. Join me in celebrating Disaster Preparedness Day by creating and implementing a plan today!