Preparedness begins at home

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Emergency crews have had a busy week, with the Perry Grain fire, the fire at the Red Willow Western fire barn and the freak wind that tore the roof off the Kildare lumber yard, but thank goodness no one was seriously injured.

All were good examples of how well various entities can work together, particularly the grain fire, which saw firefighters from a 30-mile radius spring into action when they were needed.

It didn't happen by accident. Paid and volunteer crews spend many hours planning and training for just such emergencies -- the mock disaster at the Trenton ethanol plant was just the latest example.

But preparedness doesn't stop with "official" firefighters and paramedics. They can respond quickly, but in case of a major, widespread emergency, it is up to all of us to take care of ourselves for as long as possible.

As part of September's National Preparedness Month, Community Hospital is urging individuals to "Resolve to be Ready" by making preparing for an emergency a priority.

According to Dari Olson, safety director for the hospital, it just takes three steps to be better prepared:

1. Get an emergency supply kit.

* Prepare a kit that can meet your household's basic needs (food, water, etc.) for 72 hours. Don't forget a kit for your car.

2. Make a family emergency plan.

* Practice with your family what to do in an emergency. Conduct regular drills.

* Know how to keep in touch. Local telephone service may be interrupted, sometimes; it is easier to contact a family member in another state. Each family member should know how to contact a local and out-of-state emergency contact to advise if they are safe. You can get more information at: http://www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/familyemergencyplan.pdf

3. Be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur in your area and their appropriate response.

* Determine the safest course of action for you and your family for each hazard. In some situations, it may be better to stay where you are, also called sheltering in place. This would be necessary during a tornado or hazardous chemical release, for example. Sometimes, leaving an area to escape danger or evacuation is the safer course of action in situations such as a fire or hurricane.

At home or at work, routines can be disrupted with little or no warning by natural disasters, fires or other catastrophic events.

Emergencies will happen, but taking action now can help minimize the impact they will have on our lives. Preparedness is contagious, what starts with one family can spread throughout a neighborhood, and every prepared neighborhood frees up emergency responders to take care of those who are in dire need. Remember, resolve to be ready.

For more information visit www.ready.gov or the Spanish-language web site www.listo.gov or call 1-800-BE-Ready or 1-888-SE-LISTO.

The website includes free information, checklists and guidelines on how to prepare your families, homes and businesses for all types of emergencies.

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