Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed
Community Health Educator
Emergency Preparedness: Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed
What will you do when faced with an emergency or natural disaster, for example a flood, major ice or snow storm, tornado, or extended power outage? Many people do not consider the steps they will take until faced with a situation. FEMA’s Prepare, Plan, and Stay Informed Guide (developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with AARP, American Red Cross, and National Organization on Disabilities) suggests these easy tips that may help you be prepared for whatever may come our way.
STEP ONE: MAKE SAFETY KITS
Prepare two safety kits, one that will stay at home and a lighter one you can travel with. What you put in these kits depends on the types of things that you use on a day to day basis. Here are some suggestions from FEMA:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- Non-perishable foods and a can opener
- Battery powered or NOAA weather radios
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit and your medications
- A whistle to signal for help
- Tools that you may need to complete tasks like turning off utilities
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal hygiene
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape will help in times of contaminated air, as well as dust masks
- Maps and other important documents such as wills, deeds, power of attorney, banking information, and tax records should be kept in a water proof container.
- Don’t forget Fido! Pets need everything that we need, so make sure to have plenty of water and food on hand for your furry friends.
STEP TWO: MAKE A PLAN
- Contact anyone that might visit you on a day to day basis, like a visiting nurse or home health aide, and find out what their emergency or disaster procedures are.
- Create an emergency contact list of family and friends that will support you in case of an emergency and share important parts of your plan, like where you will evacuate to, and where your emergency supplies are.
- Develop a family communication plan outlining how you will contact one another. Each family member could be assigned to call or email one friend or relative, like a phone tree.
- Make plans for staying put and evacuating. Base your decision on whether to stay or go from local authorities, and news reports of official instructions.
- When you make an evacuation plan, consider destinations in different directions to give you more options.
- If you have special needs, for example you use a cane or wheelchair, oxygen, Lifeline, if you have difficulty hearing, a visual impairment, etc., consider filling out the Fulton County Disabled Persons Voluntary Registry. This authorizes emergency responders to enter your home in an emergency to assure your safety and welfare. Forms can be obtained at Fulton County Public Health, Office For Aging, Office of Civil Defense and Fire Coordination, and NathanLittauerHospital’s Lifeline program as well.
STEP THREE: STAY INFORMED
There are a few ways you can receive local information in the event of an emergency, such as the current situation at hand, designated shelters, power outages, road blocks, etc. First, stay tuned to local radio stations, like WIZR and WENT. Second, be on the look out for your local fire departments, as they may be deployed to provide assistance. Fulton County is also working on establishing a reverse 911 system that would provide emergency automated messages via phone.
To learn more about how you can prepare yourself in case of an emergency, and what types of emergencies are likely to affect our region, visit www.ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY (1-800-237-3239).
For more information, contact HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at www.nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.