Prep for Disaster: 5 Things to Do
September is National Preparedness Month.
You've heard all the "no-duh" tips before about preparing for a disaster - keep water and non-perishable food on hand, have a flashlight with extra batteries...and so on.
But this month, National Preparedness Month, the federal government and Rhode Island's own emergency management agency are hoping you will get down to details to make a plan for, not the unthinkable, but the inevitable: tornadoes, hurricanes, floods or even terrorism and pandemics.
Remember one year ago. Barrington was still feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Irene. Schools started a week late after being closed for a week, power was finally returning to all of Barrington, and storm debris still made some roadsa bit tricky to navigate. Is your home or business ready for the next emergency?
To get the word out, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Authority, has built an extensive website to help citizens plan and prepare.
Ready.gov offers instructions on how to ready your family, your home, your car and even your business for an emergency. The site includes tips specific to disasters common in Rhode Island, such as heavy flooding and hurricianes. There are even diagrams on how to seal off your home in the event that the outside air is contaminated.
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) also is urging all Rhode Islanders to make the pledge to be ready.
"If you haven't done so already, now is the perfect time to take the steps to protect your family, home, or business," said RIEMA Executive Director Theresa C. Murray. "If more households and businesses were prepared, first responders could focus more attention on protecting lives, property, and critical infrastructure. Every person, household, business, school, hospital, and community agency needs to be ready. We are all in this together. It truly takes the whole community to assure an effective emergency response."
RIEMA recommends that all Rhode Islanders follow three steps to get started: make a kit, make a plan, and stay informed.
Make a kit. A disaster-supply kit should provide a collection of basic items that household members may need in the event of a disaster. A disaster-supply kit can be used in your home if there is an extended power outage or it could be used if you have to leave your home and go to a shelter. During an emergency, you will probably not have time to shop or search for the items you need.
Make a plan. Emergency plans can help to make sure you keep in contact with important family and friends.Create and practice a family communications plan in case you are separated during an emergency. Select a family meeting spot where everyone can go in case you are separated. Make sure all family members have an emergency contact list. (The contact list should include a friend or family member that lives out of state. It may be easier to make a non-local call after an emergency.) Learn where shelters are located and how to get there.
Stay informed. Reliable, accurate information is an essential resource before, during, and after an emergency or disaster. For regularly updated information, follow RIEMA on Twitter @RhodeIslandEMA or visit the Facebook page at RI Emergency Management Agency.
For information about RIEMA or emergency management programs, visit www.riema.ri.gov
Here are five things Patch found that can help you get ready:
1. Build a tailor-made kit
You're smart enough to build a kit with food and water, but FEMA suggests making sure you include foods your family will actually eat. If you're kids have never eaten a bean in their life, maybe a disaster isn't the time to present them with a can of cold red kidney beans. Also don't forget high-energy foods like protein bars and, FEMA suggests, skip salty foods that will make you thirsty.
2. How much water is enough?
Speaking of thirsty, FEMA suggests storing one gallon for each person for three days. But if you live some place hot consider storing more. Click here for more tips about what not to use to store your water.
3. Some non-food items you should have in your kit:
- Duct tape, plastic sheeting and dust masks in case you need to shelter in.
- Whistle to alert responders to your location
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Baby wipes and garbage bags for personal sanitation
- A can opener
- (Click here for the full list)
4. Make a national communication plan.
If you've got relatives out of state, they may be just the ones you need when your local friends and family are mired in a disaster. Your Uncle Louie in Detroit or Aunt Emmy in Tampa could be the point person if you and your family become separated. FEMA also offers a PDF family emergency plan you can fill out and email to family and friends. There is also a PDF contact card that kids can carry with them. (See above.)
5. What exactly do you say to a terrorist?
If you received a bomb threat at work, would you know what do? FEMA has put together a list of questions to ask the caller, which you can view here. If you are caught in a explosion did you know that whistling to a rescuer could save you? FEMA says shouting could lead to inhaling dangerous amounts of dust.
For more information on how to prepare for everything from a black out to a cyber attack, visit www.Ready.gov.