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How to increase Your chances of Surviving a Natural Disaster

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Flooding from Katrina

Did you know that in the event of a major natural disaster, sometimes, it can take up to a week or more to get rescued by Emergency Services?

How would you or your family cope with a medical emergency without the assistance of a Police, Fire or EMS?

What would happen if you lost your housing, you had no food or water and no one’s cell phone worked and you couldn’t reach out to anybody?

In the event of a major natural disaster a million things can go wrong, and it can be an intimidating and scary thing to think about, however thankfully there are agencies who are in place to help educate individuals like you or I on surviving natural disasters.

I was fortunate enough to secure an interview on this subject, with James Watkins, he is Region E Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) Coordinator out of Missouri. He oversees disaster preparedness activities and presentations to encourage citizens of SE Missouri to prepare at home, for hazards of all kinds, so they can stay ahead of the game by being able to survive and recover quicker, because they have prepared.

Text Box: Figure 1 James Watkins Region E CERT Coordinator

James works under a grant from the Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for the training of 13 counties in SE Missouri, approximately 300,000 people, over an area of 7,688 square miles.

He teaches a 20-hour course, the purpose of the course is to ensure that every individual is prepared at home or at work so wherever you are, you can help yourself and others survive.

Now if you don’t live in SE Missouri and you would like to take a course in Disaster Preparedness, like the one James teaches, you can check FEMA’s website for similar types of training in disaster management courses available in your area. If you would like to become more educated on the subject, you can take the IS-317: Introduction to Community Emergency Response Teams Course online yourself, but they still recommend taking the C.E.R.T. Basic Training in a classroom environment like the one James teaches.

We felt that this would be a great topic to talk about for this blog post, I also want to disclose that this blog post in no way takes the place of the training you would get by taking the course in person, we wanted to offer a quick-ish rundown for those of us, not familiar with the training contained within the course.

The first responsibility is to ensure that your family and neighbors are safe. A good place to start is the with the free FEMA publications, which can be found at https://www.ready.gov/publications.

You want to put together a Family Communication Plan. Which is basically a list of contacts, meeting areas, medical information etc. To be included in your Emergency kit.

You’re going to need an Emergency Kit and this kit should be kept in a backpack or bucket, so everything is together. Consider two kits. In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you need to get away.

Emergency Supply Kit

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveller’s checks and change
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
  • Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
  • Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kits
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps

Plan what you will do in an emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation. Use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Develop a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Be sure each person knows the phone number and has a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may be down altogether, but be patient.

Create a Plan to Shelter-in-Place. There are circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as sheltering-in-place and sealing the room can be a matter of survival.

If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to shelter-in-place and seal the room. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to shelter-in-place. Quickly bring your family and pets inside, lock doors, and close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers. Immediately turn off air conditioning, forced air heating systems, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. Take your emergency supplies and go into the room you have designated. Seal all windows, doors and vents.

Understand that sealing the room is a temporary measure to create a barrier between you and contaminated air. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for instructions.

Create a Plan to Get Away. Plan how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. If you have a car, keep at least a half tank of gas in it always. Become familiar with alternate routes as well as other means of transportation out of your area. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you must. Take your emergency supply kit, unless you have reason to believe it is contaminated and lock the door behind you.

Take pets with you if you are told to evacuate, however, if you are going to a public shelter, keep in mind they may not be allowed inside.

If you believe the air may be contaminated, drive with your windows and vents closed and keep the air conditioning and heater turned off.

Listen to the radio for instructions. Know Emergency Plans at School and Work. Think about the places where your family spends time: school, work and other places your family frequents. Talk to your children’s schools and your employer about emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency.

If you are an employer, be sure you have an emergency preparedness plan. Review and practice it with your employees. A community working together during an emergency also makes sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together.

Again, this blog post wouldn’t have been possible without the help and guidance of James Watkins. I also want to remind everyone that the information contained herein can also be found in greater detail at Ready.gov.

We do carry a wide assortment of medical supplies and equipment and we would love to help you design a custom Emergency Medical Kit, with the guidance of our trained professionals.

Give us a call today at 1-800-660-1377 or check out our ecommerce site at www.emergencysafetysupply.com

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