You may think you are prepared – until Mother Nature or man-made threats deliver a harsh lesson. The magnitude of Hurricane Florence, which is on its way to batter the Carolinas, serves as the latest harsh reminder.
It’s difficult to be emotionally ready for casualties, but it is possible to be better prepared for anticipated challenges such as the need for medical care, loss of electricity, communication lapses, lack of safe shelter, and limited supplies of fresh water, food, fuel and other necessities. There are also after-effects to consider, including exposure to hazardous conditions during clean-up operations, economic impacts and post-traumatic stress.
Develop a Preparedness Plan
There are steps you can take to protect yourself and others. Here are some suggestions:
- Familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could occur and their likely effect. Review your company disaster preparedness plan and periodically update it.
- Develop a personal preparedness plan with input from family members, housemates, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Distribute an emergency contact list.
- Know how you’ll contact co-workers, school authorities and household members. Decide where you will reconnect if you are separated. Select a meeting place that’s familiar and easy to reach.
- Identify evacuation routes, potential shelter (in place or elsewhere), medical resources and communication mechanisms.
- OSHA requires covered employers to have first-aid kits stored in easily accessible locations. Assemble your own disaster preparedness and first-aid kits for your home and vehicles.
- Enroll in a disaster planning or first-aid course. Get involved in community preparedness activities.
Experts recommend that you tailor plans and supplies to your daily living needs. Keep in mind:
- Household members’ ages and abilities
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Where you spend most of your time
- Dietary restrictions and preferences
- Medications and assistive medical equipment
- Language, culture and religious beliefs
- Pets or service animals
Once you have your developed your plan, do a mock drill to identify potential gaps or limitations.
Did You Know?
- If you use a mobile phone, a text message may get through when a phone call will not because a text message requires far less bandwidth. Text messages may also save and then send automatically when capacity becomes available.
- Officials may issue wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) using the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. WEAs are delivered as texts with unique sound and vibration. To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider. (If you receive AMBER child abduction alerts, your phone is enabled.)
- The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, satellite digital audio service and direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television and wireless cable systems to allow authorities to deliver emergency information.
- The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), a nationwide network of radio stations, broadcasts continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.
Disaster Preparedness Supply Kit Contents
The American Red Cross recommends assembling the following disaster preparedness supplies:
- Water: One gallon per person, per day, with a three-day supply for evacuation and two-week supply for home
- Food: Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items with a three-day supply for evacuation and a two-week supply for home
- Cell phone with charger
- Flashlight with batteries
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, preferably NOAA weather radio
- First aid kit (emergency, disaster and trauma kits are available from reliable vendors)
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications (seven-day supply) and medical items
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of important documents
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blankets
- Map(s) of the area
Suggested items for specific needs:
- Hearing aids and prescription eyewear
- Baby supplies
- Games and activities for children
- Pet supplies
- Two-way radios
- Extra set of keys
- N95 or surgical masks
- Insect repellent
- Rain gear
- Work gloves
- Tools/supplies for valve shutoffs, repairs
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Household liquid bleach
- Entertainment items
- Tent, blankets or sleeping bags
Put items in airtight plastic bags and store them in plastic containers or sturdy backpacks. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place. Replace expired items and update your kit annually as your needs change.