Emergencies can strike at any time and without warning. Whether the disaster is a tornado, flood, house fire or terrorist attack, we must be ready.
Being prepared for an emergency can protect yourself and your family. With tornado season in full swing, it’s important to do all you can to be prepared.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has developed a program called “Ready in 3.” The program includes three steps that can help you and your family prepare for emergencies. The three steps include:
1. Create a plan for you, your family and your business.
2. Prepare a kit for your home, car and work.
3. Listen for information about what to do and where to go during an actual emergency.
Create a plan
To begin preparing, you should make a family communications plan. Have a pre-determined place to meet or way to communicate during and after a disaster.
Practice before the storm. At home, have a family tornado plan in place based on the kind of residence in which you live. Know where you can take shelter in a matter of seconds, and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.
Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings (e.g., mattress, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc.) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds notice. When a tornado watch is issued, think about the drill and check to make sure all your safety supplies are handy.
Prepare a kit
During an emergency, you may be unable to get food or water and your electricity may not be working. It is important to have a three-day supply of food and water for each member of your family. If you have the room available, two weeks worth of drinking water should be stored for each person.
Other supplies are also essential to have prepared and ready in case of an emergency. A battery-powered radio, flashlights, prescription medicines and a first-aid kit are all things you will need during an emergency. It is also important to keep a small emergency supply kit in your car.
Listen for information
During an emergency, it is important to stay calm and get as much information about the situation as possible. Many of us rely on television, radio or Internet for the news, but in some emergencies electricity may not be available. Having a battery-powered radio on hand with extra batteries will ensure you access to the latest news about the emergency.
Make sure to listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials. Try to be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms and watch for the following danger signs: dark, often greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating); and loud roar, similar to a freight train. If you see approaching storms with any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
The purpose of emergency preparedness is to do as much as possible before an emergency happens. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to preparing yourself and your family for an emergency. If you would like a copy of “Ready in 3” to use for your family, call the Independence Health Department at 816-325-7189.
Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.