National Preparedness Month 2018
September 11, 2018
September is National Preparedness Month. Disasters don't plan ahead - but you can. It is important to talk to your family, friends, and co-workers about the actions you will take before, during, and after a local or even national disaster. It is easy to help your family get ready for various problems that can arise. Below are some simple steps you can use to get prepared.
Know your location and your threats
Know what part of the state you are in, what county you are in, and your location in that county. This will help you figure out if you are in the affected area and if you need to take shelter or evacuate. Also it is important to identify the disasters or hazards that may affect your community. Examples are chemical spills, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, power failure, terrorist attacks, tornadoes, transportation accidents, snow/ice, etc. Take time to educate your family about the disasters that can happen in your community or to your family. The purpose is not to frighten family members but to help them identify the possibilities and develop an appropriate response.
It is also important to make sure you get alerts for your specific location. It is recommended that you have at least three ways to get information during a disaster. A couple of good methods are NOAA Weather Radios or mobile apps. You can find a list of apps by clicking HERE. Another general mobile app is the FEMA app. You can also sign up for the TuscALERT notification system, TuscALERT. TuscALERT is not an app, but rather an online platform that can send you notifications by cell phone, email, or landline (TuscALERT).
Nonprofits make up a large part of response after a disaster. Where organizations like United Way’s 211, Catholic Social Services and Temporary Emergency Services help people during day to day problems, organizations like Salvation Army, Red Cross, Adventist Disaster Relief, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and many more work to help individuals and families recover after a disaster. These organizations are always in need of trained volunteers. To learn more about volunteering, click HERE or call 2-1-1 to ask about opportunities to volunteer with organizations near you.
Make a kit
Help your family be ready by making 72 hour preparedness kit. It is recommended to have supplies of food and water that could last for at least 72 hours. Other than food, water, and flashlights it is important to have other items like first aid kits, important prescription medications, and cell phone chargers with a backup battery. Some other items that might be important depending on where you live are: lumber to secure windows, a tool to turn off utilities, and a generator kept outside when used. Some other helpful sites that can help you put together a kit are:
Discussing actions and making a plan
Another way to help your family prepare is to make a plan discussing what they need to do and actions to take in the event of a disaster. It is important to go over your plan with your loved ones and talk about where you will evacuate in a fire or hurricane, where to take shelter in a tornado or hazmat incident, and even where you will meet up if you get separated or are in different places before a disaster strikes. Be sure to review your plan and make changes yearly or as things change. It may also be useful to add names and numbers of family members and emergency contacts to your plan.
After taking time to discuss your family disaster plan and creating a supply kit go over and practice your plan. Training makes sure everyone is familiar with all aspects of the family plan. Go over and show how to use the tools and equipment, where the kits are stored, how to retrieve the kits, how to prepare the food, and practice sheltering or evacuating.
Another useful tip is to seek opportunities to have your family trained in disaster response or relief. Having a little bit of training can help your family keep focus in a disaster instead of panicking. Plus, you'll be able to assist your family and neighbors as you wait for first responders to get to your location. Several nonprofits, religious organizations, and government entities provide training that you and your family can assist or learn from. A few options out there are: Red Cross, Salvation Army, UMCOR- Methodist Disaster Relief, Alabama Baptist disaster relief, Amateur (HAM) Radio, and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
For more information on local training, contact your local EMA offices. Tuscaloosa County is hosting an amateur (HAM) radio class and a CERT+ class this fall - fill out the contact form HERE if you are interested in either class. You can also learn more about CERT+ by clicking HERE.