It’s Emergency Preparedness Month – is your family safe?

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  September is Emergency Preparedness Month – Donna Quinn, Public Health and Preparedness Response Manager and Jonathan Miller Director of Health Services at Springfield Technical Community College, Interim Director of Springfield Medical Reserve Corps, and Assistant Chief with the Monson Fire Department.

September is National Preparedness Month

  • National initiative sponsored by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) beginning in 2004 – observed during the month of September each year
  • The campaign encourages Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities
  • In Massachusetts, we’ve branded our efforts as Emergency Preparedness Month through a Governor’s proclamation
  • While the themes and ideas behind preparedness are really promoted during the month of September, these are things that residents can do year round to make themselves, their families and communities more prepared

How can people prepare themselves?

  • Build a kit
  • Make a family emergency communication plan
  • Be informed about the different emergencies that may affect you
  • Get involved/engaged in community preparedness and response efforts

What goes into a kit?

  • Depending on the type of emergency you may need to shelter in place in your location for a few days or you may need to evacuate your location.
  • You’ll be a step ahead if you already have a kit packed and ready to go before an emergency since you may not have time to collect or shop for items right before or during an emergency
  • Collection of household items your family might need during an emergency
    • Types of items
      • Food – 3-day supply
        • Non-perishable food
        • Foods your family will eat
        • Remember dietary needs
        • Canned goods, dry mixes, and things that don’t require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation
        • Remember a manual can opener and utensils
      • Water
        • 1 gallon of water per person per day, up to 3 days (maybe more depending on your needs)
      • Prescription medications/glasses/medical equipment
      • Personal hygiene items
      • Don’t forget to include items for babies/children/pets
      • Flashlight/batteries
      • Copies of important documents like insurance, ID’s, bank account information, etc.
      • Money
      • Weather-appropriate clothing depending on the climate where you live
    • One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t need to tackle building a kit all at once – take small steps and pick up a few things here and there while you’re out doing your usual shopping (show KPP shopping tote)
    • For those goods in your kit with expiration dates, check them every 6 months and refresh your kit. Take out those things that are expiring soon and use them in your home, and replace them in the kit with newer items
    • One of the key things to stress is that it’s important to take your own needs and those of your family into account as well when planning and making an emergency kit – you know best what will meet your needs

What is a family emergency communication plan?

  • You and your family may not be together during an emergency, so plan ahead to determine how you’ll get in touch with each other
    • Create a paper copy of contact information for your family including names and phone numbers – also include numbers for important places like workplace offices, doctors, medical facilities, schools, and service providers
    • Share a copy of this communication plan with every member of your family – that means a hard copy that you keep in a backpack, purse or wallet. You also should post a hard copy in a central location in your home like on a refrigerator. You can add all of this information into your phones as well
    • Establish an out-of-town contact who you and your family members all can call to help you reconnect with your loved ones – sometimes local phone lines get jammed during an emergency and long-distance calls are more likely to connect – having an out-of-town contact may help in this process
    • Designate emergency meeting places – these are safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite.
      • Pick a place in your home, in your neighborhood, outside your neighborhood, and outside your city/town
      • The type and severity of an emergency can determine to which of these places you would go – for example, if there is a fire in your home, you would meet at your designated location in your neighborhood. If you’re not at home at the time of an emergency and you can’t get back there, meet at the designated location outside of your neighborhood (this could be a place like a library, community center, family friend’s home, etc.)

What are the ways that they can get involved in helping their community to prepare?

  • Participating in your community and engaging in community preparedness and response efforts really can have an impact on how resilient a community is in its ability to withstand, adapt to and recover from an emergency. It’s the act of building a system of social connectedness that can really benefit a community and help reduce the negative impacts of disasters. One of the best ways to participate is to sign up as a volunteer before a public health emergency happens:
    • Join your local Medical Reserve Corps Unit or MRC, the volunteer program which allows medical and non-medical volunteers to assist during public health emergencies in your community and throughout the state.
    • Sign up as a volunteer with the MA SMART team or local DART to assist with animals in emergencies.
    • Become a behavioral health disaster responder.
    • Become a CERT member with your local emergency management agency.
    • Or just be a good neighbor. Check on family, friends, and neighbors, especially the elderly, those who live alone, those with medical conditions and those who may need additional assistance.
    • The most important part of becoming involved is doing so before the emergency strikes. These programs allow for volunteers to be identified and credentialed, so individuals can appropriately apply their skills when needed.

 

Promotional consideration provided by: Springfield Medical Reserve Corps

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