Organizing for Emergencies: Preparing Information, Supplies and Response Plans for Emergencies

weather emergencyThis year spring came in like nothing I can remember.  There were several weeks straight when the North and Midwest were still accumulating snow; the South experienced severe thunderstorms, large hail and tornados; and the West Coast fires began again …  The utility outages and loss of property that went along with those circumstances were unexpected and in many cases overwhelming.  Were you prepared for the extreme weather?  Did you have a backup plan in case you could not return to your home?

The Gulf and Atlantic coasts enter Hurricane Season beginning June 1st.  A fire or chemical release is not as readily forecasted so we should be prepared for emergencies at all times.   Several government and community agencies have resources to help you be informed of emergencies that may occur in your area, plan for those emergencies and recover from an emergency experienced.

By planning ahead now, you will have the security of knowing you did all you could to protect your family and preserve your livelihood if something does happen later.

Be Informed on Emergency Preparedness

Your state may have a site similar to that of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness http://www.gohsep.la.gov/.  The site lists the types of emergencies that can occur in the state and allows you to sign up for direct communication of emergency alerts.  The same site provides Louisianans updates during an emergency as well as after if evacuations were required.

Also make note of the local resources that can provide support services  for disaster-recovery and displacement.  This could be Red-Cross but it could also be a local church.

Get the Right Supplies

Your supplies must at least cover your family’s basic needs: shelter, food/water/medical and clothing.  You should then add your personal vital documents, the information needed to:   validate your identity, access your finances, receive medical care and make claims for your property. Next include items that improve your comfort and then items that preserve the peace (i.e. items that keep everyone entertained and calm). 

Each emergency can impact your home structure and property differently.  If possible upgrade your home and contents to meet the threats of emergencies.  In the case of fire this may mean to pick a nonflammable material when buying new carpet or furniture and getting new smoke detectors and connecting them to the home alarm system.  In the case of damaging winds this may mean trimming overgrown trees early or securing outdoor furniture and  covering windows before a storm.

Remember that information will be provided on whether you should shelter-in-place or evacuate your home.   

Suggestions for basic needs items to include in your kits can be found at the following resources:

http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/Be_Red_Cross_Ready.pdf

http://www.getagameplan.org/planFamily.htm

http://www.getagameplan.org/downloads/SpecialNeeds.pdf

 

I will talk more about making your emergency plan and recovering from emergencies in the next post…

– tt