Monday, September 11, 2017

Emergency Preparedness If a disaster happened today, would you be ready?

Marty Augustine, Author and Safety /Security Consultant in Shawnee, KS

Thanks to nothing more than luck, the Kansas City area has "dodged the bullet" for a long time when it comes to disasters. Because of this, it's easy to become complacent when major disasters happen in other places like we've seen recently in Texas and Florida. Some feel a major disaster will never happen here. Unfortunately, we know 's not true. It's not a matter of if, but when a major disaster will strike in our area. We don't have to live in fear, but we should be prepared.

Living in the Midwest, we can experience many types of severe weather. Tornadoes, winter storms, floods, thunderstorms and excessive heat are just a few. There are also other threats that loom such as power outages, fires, hazardous material spills, industrial accidents or even terrorist acts.

Planning is the key to handling an emergency successfully. Disaster preparedness is very similar to planning a camping trip. It's simply a matter of determining what you'll need ahead of time. Think of what supplies you would need to be comfortable if you were going into the wilderness for an extended period of time.

Some disasters may require evacuations to keep citizens safe, but for others you may need to shelter in place. Would you be able to sustain yourself in your home for two or three days or more if needed? If you didn't have access to a grocery store, would you have the supplies you need?

There are a few basic preparedness items everyone should have at home, at work and in your vehicle. Purchase emergency supplies and develop your safety plans ahead of time. Don't wait until a disaster strikes to find out you're not prepared.

An emergency alert radio is essential. These radios provide advance warning for severe weather threats. They can be programmed for threats in your specific area. Various models are available including battery operated, wind-up and solar powered. You can even have emergency alerts sent directly to your smart phone.

You could be left in the dark without power for an extended period of time. Always have a flashlight handy with a supply of fresh batteries. You can even purchase wind-up or solar powered models for these as well.

Keep a supply of fresh drinking water. You should store at least one gallon of water, per person per day. Store water containers in a cool dry place and rotate your supply after about six months to ensure freshness. Don't forget you'll also need water for cooking, cleaning and hygiene. It's also a good idea to carry portable water bottles in your vehicle, should you become stranded somewhere.

Keep a supply of easy to prepare, non-perishable foods. These can include canned goods, crackers, granola bars and similar items. Simple foods that can be eaten without a cooking source are best.

If you require medications, always be sure you have adequate supply on hand.

Have a first aid kit and know how to use it. Emergency response personnel may be delayed or unable to respond during a major disaster. Being able to help someone in an emergency is a great skill to have, not just for disasters but in everyday life also. Encourage those not familiar with first aid or CPR to take a class to learn these valuable skills.

Just as kids practice drills at school for fire and tornadoes, adults should be doing the same. Always have an escape plan or a "safe" room at home and work. Be sure you know the emergency procedures for your workplace. Having a plan at home is critical. Be sure you share your plan with your loved ones. Would they know what to do if you weren't there to assist?

Be sure everyone understands what is expected of them in an emergency. Designate a third party contact in case you are separated from your loved ones and cannot communicate directly. Arrange a meeting place for your family in the event you become separated. Keep copies of important documents such as ID's, insurance policies and medical records in a safe place.

We often plan for emergencies at home, but would you be ready if an emergency happened while you were at work or away on vacation? A disaster could strike anywhere, at any time. Always have a plan when you're away from home.

Always let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back. Be sure to carry a cell phone and make sure it's charged. Keep your vehicle fueled. Consider the special needs of individuals such as the handicapped, the elderly, children, babies and pets.

Create a "go-bag" for emergency supplies. This is a bag with a change of clothes, snacks, personal hygiene items and other essentials that you'll need if you're away from home. Keep it in your car, or have your bag ready to go should you get evacuated or stranded somewhere.

You'll be able to handle whatever comes your way with a little preparation. While others panic, you'll have the peace of mind knowing you're safe and ready.

Marty Augustine is a nationally known safety educator and disaster preparedness expert. For more information, visit:

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