Tips to be ready for a natural disaster

By: Cindi Clawsen Email
By: Cindi Clawsen Email

From hurricanes and tornadoes, to raging wildfires in the west, 2012 has been an intense year for natural disasters.

The big question is, are you ready?

These Emergency Managers and Coroners from around Northern Indiana are training to respond to a potential disaster. But many disasters don't give you much warning, so we all need to be ready. Since September is National Preparedness Month, there's no better time to plan than now.

There are two big things you can do to help protect your family in case of a widespread emergency.

First, get a kit.

Have an emergency kit filled with non-perishable food, water, medicines, and first aid supplies, among other necessities to sustain you and your family for 3 days.

"In the event of an emergency it may take a while for us to identify how much damage has occurred, and it may take a while for the first responders to get to you,” explains Elkhart County Emergency Manager Jennifer Tobey. “So we feel, and we agree with the State and FEMA, that if you're prepared with supplies, food, medicines for 72 hours, somebody will be able to get to you from the time that it happens up to 3 days to fulfill the needs that you might have after that."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests having a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation, plus basic supplies like batteries, a flashlight, a battery powered radio, a NOAA weather radio, a first aid kit, a whistle, a dust mask, moist towelettes or baby wipes, trash bags, can opener, and a wrench to turn off utilities. Don't forget to have your prescription medicines in your kit, as well as special supplies for babies, children and pets.

It is also recommended that you have a similar emergency kit in your car.

The second big thing you can do is to make sure your family has a plan.

Discuss with your family members what to do during an emergency. Make sure everyone knows where to go inside and outside the home, depending on the emergency, and also designate a spot to meet outside of your neighborhood in case of evacuation.

Have a contact person for everyone to call to check in. A family member outside the area may be easier to reach during an emergency than someone across town.

Have an evacuation route mapped out ahead of time.

And make sure to practice your plan with your family so everyone stays fresh.

"I'm making a plea to the citizens, that if you're prepared, then it's easy for us to get to you, we know that you're safe, and we know that you have somewhat of a plan, and we can get our arms wrapped around this emergency and meet the needs quicker," says Tobey.

We hope we never have to deal with a big disaster here in Michiana, but being prepared will make things a lot easier for you and your family.

"I don't care if it's raining, if it's snowing, if there's ice, if it's flooding, we want to teach you how to be prepared for that first 72 hours, no matter what, an all-hazards approach," says Tobey.

These principles don't just apply to your home. There should be similar plans in place at your workplace and even your place of worship.

If you need assistance with your plan you can contact your county's emergency manager.

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