The thought of your family or business being impacted by a disaster is never a pleasant one. It is however, extremely important to plan ahead and be ready if disaster strikes. Disasters can be natural or man-made such as transportation accidents or even deliberate acts.
Knowing the hazards you face in everyday life and thinking ahead about how you will react to them can make the difference between life and death. Each year the month of September is designated as National Preparedness Month to encourage residents to plan and prepare for disasters that may pose a hazard to them.
Knowing what to do and preparing in advance will go a long way to improving the likelihood of a positive outcome in a disaster. Knowing where to get Emergency information and warnings can be vital. Having a NOAA All-Hazards radio and signing up for wireless alerts to your cell phones can be an excellent source of information. Doing things such as having plans for evacuation or sheltering in place are critical. You must also practice the plans once you develop them. Talk to your family about such things as where you will meet if you are unable to get home or who you will contact to let family know you are safe if you become separated.
Business owners need to be sure their employees know what to do or where to go if their business is unable to operate at its current facilities because of disaster. They also need to teach their employees about evacuation procedures and shelter points within their facilities.
While the likelihood of certain types of disasters changes throughout the year we must remember that we face the possibility of disaster year round. This requires us to be aware of our environment and potential threats year round. In the spring or summer the focus turns to things such as Severe Thunderstorms, High Winds, or Flooding. During winter, heavy snow, ice, and extreme cold draw the most attention. We cannot forget about other possible hazards. We must take an “All-Hazards” approach when preparing for disaster. Things such as transportation accidents or long-term power outages can happen anytime and the consequences can be significant.
An important step is assembling an Emergency Supplies Kit. This kit should contain things such as flashlights, portable radios and batteries, along with water for drinking and non-perishable food items. It is recommended that this kit contain a three-day supply for each member of your household. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medications and whether storing medications in this kit is advised. A common misconception is that emergency responders will get to you right away. This is not always possible depending on the type and size of the disaster. You may have to shelter in your home for several days without things such as electricity or utility service and having the supplies needed becomes extremely important.
Local Emergency Response Agencies train and prepare for disasters and are dedicated to providing the best response possible. Your help in planning and preparing will go a great distance in helping in their efforts to respond if disaster strikes. Together we can build disaster resilient communities through education and efforts to be ready.
The thought of a disaster in your community can be made a bit less daunting if you take steps in advance to prepare and plan. Information regarding this subject is readily available from numerous sources. These would include your local Emergency Management Office as well as websites such as www.ready.gov and www.prepare.ny.gov, along with other partners such as the American Red Cross.