2017-08-11 / Viewpoint

Be prepared – a great motto for families


National Emergency Preparedness Month takes place just around the corner in September and it’s not a coincidence that it takes place during hurricane season.

During the writing of this article the folks in Houston, Texas are suffering the wrath of heavy rains and flash flooding.

This year, five named storms have already developed in the Atlantic and this is just the start of the season.

Estimates provided by the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project suggest the number of named storms forecast to develop this season may reach as high as 17.

Now, even though we seem to be fairly well sheltered from storm surge and even some of the more violent effects of Atlantic hurricanes, we are still at risk of what Mother Nature can throw at us – and often unpredictably.

For example:

• We have a fairly high risk of tornadoes in the Augusta area with more than 70 twisters hitting the ground since 1950.

• The last earthquake was June 20 and more than 23 in the area since 1931. Who knows when a large magnitude quake will hit?

That’s why emergency preparedness is so important and why we observe National Emergency Preparedness Month in September.

In a military community, readiness is a fairly familiar term. Maintaining readiness is simply what we do; we stay ready for whatever we’re asked to do. We have standard operating procedures, known as SOPs, checklists, emergency plans, and guides that help us deal with all manner of projects and work oriented events.

We can apply that same ability to create thoughtful plans to prepare our homes and families for disasters.

This year, the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (part of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta) has created a program called Ready, Steady, Show, Go, that focuses on the afore mentioned four phases or topics. Each topic will be highlighted for one week during September.

The Ready phase emphasizes building a home emergency kit. Creating a plan and staying informed. They suggest you have a three-day supply of water, food that doesn’t spoil; medicines and personal care items such as soap, tooth brushes and toothpaste; safety supplies such as first aid kit and emergency blankets; Electronics such as portable radio, flashlight, cell phone and charger. Additionally, the OPHPR suggests the creation of a communications plan to help connect family members who may be separated during an emergency.

With the Steady topic, OPHPR advises to review your emergency plan and conduct practice drills with the whole family. This can also be a time where the contents of the emergency kit can be inspected and to ensure food, water, medicine and batteries are all in good shape.

The Show phase emphasizes inspiring people to prepare. OPHPR says talking to family and friends about preparing for the unexpected. They suggest that talking to others increases the likelihood of others to get prepared. Being a preparedness role model through volunteering, taking CPR/first aide classes will inspire others to do the same.

In the Go phase, people can take immediate and appropriate action during an emergency. Local officials will ask you to shelter in place in some situations; and to evacuate your home, workplace or community in response in others. For example, a wildfire or an approaching hurricane. Know when to go (or stay), where to go, how to get there and what to do BEFORE an emergency. The most important thing is to take immediate and decisive action.

Take some time with your family in the near future to plan for disasters and unpredictable, extreme events.

For more information on disaster preparedness check out the CDC’s month-long Ready… Steady…Show…Go program at https://www.cdc.gov/phpr/npm/index.htm.

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