The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

September 13, 2013

When you need it, and don’t have it... September is National Preparedness month

By CRISTIN REECE
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — What do Benjamin Franklin, the Boy Scouts of America and Michael Gross’ character Burt Gummer from the movie “Tremors” all have in common? They all know the importance of being prepared.

September is National Preparedness month and both city and county emergency management offices want to remind Anderson County residents of the importance of preparing for emergency situations and how to go about doing so.

“It’s very important for families to plan for emergencies,” Anderson County Emergency Management Office Director Tammy Lightfoot said, adding most of the emergency situations the area experiences are weather-related. “We have hurricanes — we may not get a direct hit, but we do experience them — tornadoes, straight line winds and some heavy thunderstorms. Generators are great but you can’t always rely on them. Plan ahead to protect your family.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website, this September is the 10th annual National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“One goal of Homeland Security is to educate the public about how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks,” FEMA’s website states. “Preparedness is a shared responsibility; it takes a whole community. This year’s National Preparedness Month focuses on turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and all communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan.”

Making that plan is pretty easy, too. The American Red Cross, in collaboration with FEMA and the CDC, recommends these steps to take before an emergency occurs:

• Build an emergency kit. If disaster strikes a community, its residents might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. By taking time now to prepare emergency water supplies, food supplies and a disaster supplies kit, a person can provide for their entire family.

• Make and share emergency plans. Be sure to include the whole family and even friends in case you're not together during an emergency. Discuss how to contact and stay in contact with one another, where you'll meet, and what you'll do in different situations.

• Be and stay informed. Being prepared means staying informed. Check all types of media – Web sites, newspapers, radio, TV, mobile and land phones – for global, national and local information. During an emergency, the local Emergency Management or Emergency Services office will share information on such things as open shelters and evacuation orders.

Homeland Security officials compiled this list, as posted on the website ready.gov, as suggestions for what should be included in any emergency 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 kit

• 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

• Manual can opener for food

• Local maps

• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

People also need to remember each family member’s individual needs, like medication or denture care supplies for an older family member and diapers and formula for infants and smaller children.

“It’s also a good idea to store important documents in a waterproof bag,” Lightfoot said.

In any emergency — and even non-emergency situations — injuries can occur. Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. Some may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can potentially help stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

• Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex

• Sterile dressings to stop bleeding

• Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes

• Antibiotic ointment

• Burn ointment

• Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes

• Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant

• Thermometer

• Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.

• Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.

Non-prescription drugs:

• Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever

• Anti-diarrhea medication

• Antacid

• Laxative

Other first aid supplies:

• Scissors

• Tweezers

• Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant



Cristin Reece may be reached via e-mail at creece@palestineherald.com.