National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month. Is your family ready? Do you have a plan? There are some simple steps to follow to be prepared if a natural or manmade disaster strikes your community.

The first thing you need to do is to put together a phone list of important numbers, like 911, the local Fire Rescue Department, Police Department, Emergency Medical Services (ambulance), and your family doctors office numbers for all family members in your household. Post this in a common area, like on the refrigerator or by the telephone.

The next thing is to put together an emergency plan for your family. This should include the phone number of a local person that everyone in the family can call if they get separated and cannot reach each other by phone. It should also include the phone number of a person that lives out of town, so if there is an emergency in the local area that affects communication services, everyone can check in with someone from out of the area, preferably out of state. This person can then relay messages.

The third step is to have a reunification point. If you cannot access your home or neighborhood, have a designated place where your family can meet. It is also a good idea to have a secondary location identified as well. These locations may be homes of friends and relatives, or shelter locations.

The fourth step is to put together a Go Bag for each member of the family, including the family pet(s). The Go Bag should include a copy of all important documents such as identification, insurance information, copies of prescriptions for medications, and any other legal documents that you may need to gain entry back into your neighborhood once the emergency has ended, such as rental agreements or deeds. It is a good idea to put these documents in a Ziploc to protect them from potential water damage. In addition it is recommended to have bottled water, healthy snacks like granola bars and nuts, some MREs such as one from XMRE, a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, medications, toiletry and personal hygiene items, ATM, credit card, and also cash, first aid kit, extra set of house and car keys, and small games such as cards.

During major emergencies, there may be power outages. Gas pumps at gas stations, ATM machines, and credit card machines may not be operable. If there is advance warning, such as in a hurricane, fill up the car with gas in advance. It is also a good idea to get cash before the storm.

Each person should have a change of clothing, including comfortable, sturdy shoes that are good for walking and can hold up in all-terrain conditions, including water. Raingear and climate appropriate outerwear is also suggested.

Large dogs should be kept on a leash at all times. Small dogs and cats should be put in airline approved carriers for their own safety. The animal Go Bags should contain current vaccination papers, food, water, feeding bowls, litter pans and litter for cats, a current picture of the pet, and contact information for the veterinarian’s office. It is advisable for the pet to wear a collar with an ID tag at all times when outside the home.

Go Bags can be assembled anytime and ready to be used whenever a disaster strikes. It is good practice to always have a Go Bag in a convenient location in your home so it can be accessed if needed. Check your supplies quarterly for expiration dates. Also check the batteries in flashlights and radios. When there is an emergency, you will be ready and can grab your Go Bag and Go!