Sometimes you just never know. An unexpected flood. An unexpected terrorist attack. An unexpected flu pandemic.
However, you can take basic preparedness steps to help prevent, or at least mitigate, the effects of emergencies.
Many folks do not heed this simple advice. Of course, some, such as the disabled or very elderly, who might not be able to prepare for disasters. But for the rest of us, it is just good common sense to have a proper emergency kit, including the appropriate amount of extra water and nonperishable food, always available year-round.
We must not, as individuals and as a country, let our guard down. If you factor in other natural and man-made disasters, everything from tornados to terrorism, it is necessary to be prepared for unexpected emergencies every day.
The National Crime Prevention Council has published a booklet, entitled “United For A Stronger America: Preparedness Guide,” that offers some simple and practical preparedness tips.
Let’s review a few parts of this fundamental pamphlet.
First, here are some outstanding “general emergency preparedness” ideas that you and your family should consider using when facing a multitude of situations, both man-made and natural calamities.
1. Make a list of important local numbers, such as the non-emergency numbers for the police department, fire department, and the FBI field office. Make copies for yourself and your family to keep in their wallets.
2. Write down phone numbers and contact information for your family. Keep one copy by the phone and provide others to family and friends.
3. Make a neighborhood directory and plan. Include emergency contact information and plans for children and seniors who may be home alone during emergency situations. Identify neighbors who need additional help, such as young children, seniors, and those with disabilities, and develop a plan to assist them in an emergency.
4. Make your house easy to find. Make sure your street address is large and well lighted so emergency personnel can find your home quickly.
5. Organize an emergency preparedness kit. Check batteries, change the stored water and rotate the food supplies every six months. Your kit should contain, as a bare minimum, the following basic supplies: A three- to five-day supply of water (one gallon a person a day). More is even better, considering the experiences of recent natural disasters. Food that will not spoil and requires no cooking. A first-aid kit and medications (consult your physician or pharmacist about storing medications and keep copies of your prescriptions). Emergency tools such as a battery-powered radio, cell phones, flashlight, and extra batteries. Personal item such as toilet paper and plastic garbage bags. A portable emergency generator, if possible.
In addition, the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide information about what to include in supply kits and how to learn about CPR and first aid training in your neighborhood. To learn more, contact the Red Cross at 1-866-GET-INFO or at www.redcross.org, and FEMA at 1-800-480-2520 or at www.fema.gov.
This publication also suggests the following evacuation plans:
1. Develop a home evacuation plan and practice it with your family and neighbors. Know what to do if you are instructed to evacuate your home or community. Find at least two ways out of each room in your home if possible. If you live in an apartment building, know the evacuation plan. Agree on a place nearby to meet once everyone gets out of the house or apartment.
2. Plan how to take care of pets. Remember that shelters usually do not allow pets, with the exception of guide dogs.
3. Learn how to shut off utilities such as gas, electricity, and water.
These are merely a few basic ideas about the essentials of “being prepared.”
Contact the National Crime Prevention Council at www.weprevent.org for more details and for information on how you can obtain a copy of this free, informative booklet. In addition, check out www.ready.gov, an excellent emergency preparedness Web site from the Homeland Security Department.
Important Note: Of course, this is general emergency preparedness information. For information on the global flu outbreak, go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at www.cdc.gov.
Bruce Mandelblit (Mandelblit.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer.
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