hit counter
04 September 2015

The month of September is designated as National Preparedness Month.  As a partner in emergency disaster response, The Salvation Army offers some suggestions on disaster preparedness.  

Flooding is the primary cause of natural disasters here in upstate New York. Torrential rains and flash flooding can be the end result of a hurricane hitting the Atlantic coastline. Taking action today can save lives and property. Know your flood risk.

Protect yourself before a flood

Protecting yourself today means having sources for information, preparing your home or workplace, developing an emergency communications plan, and knowing what to do when a flood is approaching your home or business.

The first action step seems quite low key - know how to stay informed. Receiving timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe.

  • Monitor the weather reports provided by your local news media.
  • Many communities and local police agencies have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, do an Internet search with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”
  • Consider buying a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) All Hazards receiver, which receives broadcast alerts directly from the National Weather Service (NWS). You can purchase these at many retail outlets.
  • Think about how you will stay informed if there is a power outage. Have extra batteries for a battery-operated radio and your cell phone. Consider having a hand crank radio or cell phone charger.
  • You can use USGS’s WaterAlert system (http://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/wateralert) to receive texts or email messages when a stream in your area is rising to flood level.
  • Know your evacuation routes; plan your transportation and a place to stay.

To ensure that you will be able to act quickly should the need arise, you need to plan ahead.

  • Know your community’s local flood evacuation plan and identify several escape routes for your location if roads are blocked; include plans to evacuate people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, pets, service animals, and livestock.
  • If you will evacuate by car, keep your car fueled and in good condition. Keep emergency supplies and a change of clothes in your car.

Practice how you will communicate with family members.

In a dangerous situation, your first thoughts will be the safety of your family and friends. In case you are not together when authorities issue a flood watch or flood warning, practice how you will communicate with each other. Remember that sending texts is often faster than making a phone call. Keep important numbers written down in your wallet not just in your phone. It is sometimes easier to reach people outside of your local area during an emergency, so choose an out-of-town contact for all family members to call or use social media. Decide where the members of your household will meet after the flood.

Visit www.ready.gov/make-a-plan for instructions on developing a Household Communication Plan.

Practice first aid skills and emergency response actions through training classes

  • In most circumstances, when someone is hurt, a person on the scene provides the first assistance, before professional help arrives. Learn and practice response skills now so you will know what to do.
  • Store supplies so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate; know in advance what else you will need to take. Take time now to make a list of the things you would need or want to take with you if you had to leave your home quickly. Store the basic emergency supplies in a “Go Bag” or other container. Be ready to grab other essential items quickly before leaving. Remember to include specialized items for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs such as older adults, children.

For a full list of supplies for your emergency supply kit, visit www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

Understanding and incorporating the “Five Ps of Evacuation,” into your disaster readiness plan can ensure that you and your family are prepared should the unthinkable occur. Need a bit more guidance? Check out FEMA’s Emergency Supply List checklist  for specific details regarding protective measures for flooding and other natural disasters.

  1. People
    Your loved ones are your most precious belongings. Ensuring their safety isn’t just a matter of knowing where they are in an emergency, but also in helping them understand what to do. After all, you may not be together when disaster strikes. Will you know how to reach each other?  A Family Communication Plan can help you safely reunite following a hurricane or other catastrophic event. Pets, other animals and livestock also fall under this “P.”
  2. Prescriptions
    In the event of an emergency evacuation, you may not be able to quickly reach your doctor or pharmacy. Maintain a file containing all of your prescriptions and doses. Other evacuation necessities include medicine and medical equipment, vision and hearing aids, and batteries and power cords.
  3. Papers
    In the aftermath of the storm, you may need access to personal information ranging from insurance policies to warranties. FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) provides a handy breakdown of important documents, including everything from financial information to family contacts.

    However, because paperwork is vulnerable to both fire and water, it’s vital to store critical documents — along with a backup drive for all electronic records — in a waterproof, fireproof box.
  4. Personal Needs
    Society may be growing increasingly sophisticated, but we still have basic survival needs. Don’t assume that day-to-day conveniences like water, food, clothing, cash, first aid kits, phones, and chargers will be readily available in the event of an emergency evacuation. FEMA recommends storing at least three days’ worth of basic survival supplies in your home. Additionally, if you have loved ones with disabilities, mobility restrictions, or other functional limitations, make sure their immediate needs are also covered.
  5. Priceless Items
    While a cherished family picture may not be critical to your survival, our connections with these things is part of what makes us human. Identity any priceless items — from photos to irreplaceable mementos and other valuables — and include them in your evacuation plan.

We’ve all heard the expression, “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”  With a little bit of planning before a disaster strikes, you and your family can be safe in any disaster.

Tags: Disaster