September is National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month. When it comes to preparing for the unexpected, get informed, get prepared, and get involved. Disasters can be caused from hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, accidents, terrorism, ice storms, and wildfires to name a few.
One of the first steps is to get informed. You should learn about what could happen and how to respond to disaster preparedness. Several resources are available to assist you in times of disaster. You may call Emergency 9-1-1. In an emergency, one should only call 9-1-1 when the situation is life threatening. For non-emergency information you might want to call 2-1-1. In Texas, 2-1-1 assists callers with information on evacuation routes and locations of food and shelter during a disaster. If you suspect someone has ingested or inhaled a toxic substance, immediately call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222. Poison control specialists are available to assist and take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is another important agency for emergency preparedness information.
The second step is to get prepared. Make a family plan. Families need to come up with a family plan discussing the escape routes from each room of the home as well as escape routes from your neighborhood in case of an emergency. Designate a meeting point or place for the family to meet up in case members get separated. Draw a floor plan and perform drills if possible. Family communication is very important. Make sure each family member has a contact card on them for easy reference. Communication is also important with emergency personnel. On cell phone contact lists, enter contacts such as family members as ICE. ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency.”
Keep insurance and vital records with you as you evacuate. Learn basic safety skills or take a first aid or CPR class. Family members with special needs may require additional preparation prior to evacuation such as making sure to have enough medicines, medical equipment, and supplies prior to evacuating. Basic first aid or CPR may save you or a loved one’s life.
Create a disaster kit for your family and for pets as well. Disaster kits need to contain water, non-perishable food items, clean air items, extra clothing, first aid kits, emergency items, and special needs items. Maintain your kit by making sure batteries and flash light bulbs are working properly. When dealing with animals such as pets or livestock, prepare how you will take care of or shelter these animals in the event of a disaster.
Finally, get involved. Becoming involved with your community’s disaster response efforts can make your home, community, and state a safer place to live. Volunteer where possible. Citizens may help my learning to recognize and report suspicious activity or behavior.
Listen to and follow public announcements and obey official warnings during and after a disaster. Do not ride, drive or walk through flooded areas. Beware of electrical and fire hazards, gas leaks, carbon monoxide, and structures that may cause you bodily harm. Be cautious around stray or wild animals, snakes, and insects during a disaster as they may be displaced and looking for their homes. Be careful around down power lines or trees that might cause harm to your or your family as well.
These are just a few things families can do to help become better prepared for an emergency. Go to http://texashelp.tamu.edu for more information on this and other emergency preparedness topics. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.