Sept. is Disaster-Preparedness Month

CARY SIMS

Ag Extension Agent

A few years ago, I gathered my wife and two boys into our living room to stay the night. I did that because the likelihood of any fallen trees from the coming hurricane weren’t likely to hit us in that room.

We had stockpiled water and non-perishable food as well. I remember my boys thinking it was quite an adventure until we couldn’t watch movies or microwave their favorite food then next morning when the electricity was out.

We pride ourselves in this part of the world of being able to take care of ourselves when the weather turns foul. We cranked out chain saws and generators when trees were down and electricity was out for hurricanes Ike and Rita. We checked in our neighbors to make sure they were making it and they did the same for us.

But be it another hurricane, a wildfire, tornado, or goodness knows what else, September is National Preparedness Month and, wanting to be your good neighbor, I want to share the following.

You can help protect yourself and your household during and immediately after a catastrophe by making a disaster plan and a disaster kit. You and all members of your household need to be able to take care of yourselves without outside help for at least 3 days.

Create a disaster plan that fits your household’s needs. Make sure that everyone knows how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area.

Designate a person for everyone to contact if the group is separated during a disaster. Each person should have the names and phone numbers for the designated person as well as all other household members. Have everyone carry this information in a wallet, purse, or backpack at all times.

Make copies of your important documents and keep them in a safe place away from home. Such documents could include: list of medications, insurance policies, driver’s license or other photo ID, bank account information, credit card information, financial records, and an inventory of home possessions.

A disaster supplies kit contains the basic items that members of a household will need during and immediately after a disaster. Every household should assemble a kit and keep it up to date. The kit should contain enough supplies to enable you and your family to take care of yourselves without outside help for at least 3 days.

Store the kits in a portable, airtight plastic container or rubber trash can, and make sure they are easy to reach. One place to keep an individual supply kit is in your vehicle.

Replace flashlight and radio batteries every 6 months and replace foods according to their expiration dates. Store the kit indoors in an easily accessible spot, such as a closet. Don’t store it in the garage because hot summer weather can ruin food and medicines.

You may have to decide whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place. Evacuation means moving from an unsafe place to a safe place in a hurry. Sheltering-in-place is staying exactly where you are during a disaster; it may be at home, school, work, or a friend’s house.

The authorities will not ask you to leave unless they determine that lives may be in danger. If local officials ask you to evacuate, do so immediately.

Follow these guidelines during an evacuation:

- Listen to a local radio or TV station for news.

- Obey the instructions of local emergency officials.

- Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes.

- Take your pets with you.

- Grab your disaster supplies kit.

- Use the travel routes specified by local authorities.

During emergencies, children often feel afraid, confused, and worried. To help them feel more secure, discuss the disaster with them.

Assume that the children know about the disaster. Children know more than you think. They are often exposed to the events as soon as they are able to watch television and interact with others.

Reassure them. Help your children feel safe by giving them reassurance. Be realistic—although you try to support and protect them, you cannot prevent all bad things from happening. Tell them that you love them, no matter what happens.

Be available. Stay in close contact with your children and let them know that it’s OK to talk about unpleasant events.

 

Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu.