Prepare to keep yourself and your family safe

Monday, September 10, 2007

It always seems like it's happening to someone else, somewhere else.

A tsunami in Southeast Asia. A hurricane in the southern United States.

But remember the ice storm in Holdrege, the massive tornado in Greensburg, Kan., or even the Republican River flood of 1935?

Not really so far away, are they?

That's why the Region 15 Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security and National Preparedness Month Coalition have named September "National Month of Preparedness" across the United States.

As we come into the fall and winter months, it's a good time to remember that blizzards can easily leave us and our families stranded for days if not weeks on end.

Now's the time to be prepared, if you haven't started already.

According to the Region 15 Agency, there are four simple steps to take:

* Get a kit. Make up a kit of emergency supplies that you and your family would need to survive for up the three days in the event of an emergency.

* Make a plan. Plan as a family in advance on what to do in the event of an emergency.

* Be informed. Familiarize yourself and you family of threats that could affect you in some way.

* Get involved. Take a first aid or CPR class, volunteer in a CERT program.

"This is a great way for families to network with each other and form a plan that works for everyone," said Pat Gerdes, director of Region 15 Emergency Management Agency. Working together as a family on the plan aids in the commmunication problems that occur during the real-life ordeal.

As you sit down to create a list, you might be surprised how many items you may need. We naturally think of water, but do we allow for one gallon per day per person, for drinking and sanitation. And food, but how about food for pets?

We're likely to include battery powered conventional and NOAA Weather Radios, flashlights and first-aid kits, but how about a whistle to attract attention, a dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape?

And there are dozens of other items -- such as medications, baby formula, family documents, local maps and money -- that you might not have thought of.

You probably already own a lot of the materials you need, but others you will have to buy. Create a list, and buy one or two items a month, shopping bargains and even garage sales, until your list is complete.

For more information, contact your local law enforcement agency, or log on to http://www.ready.gov

Emergency personnel are dedicated and well trained, but in the event of a major disaster, it's up to each of us to do what we can to keep ourselves and our families safe.

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