For Your Health: Resolve to be ready this month

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By Donny Gill

The theme for this year’s Ready Campaign promoting September as National Preparedness Month is “Resolve to Be Ready in 2012.” This public awareness drive encourages individuals and community leaders to make the resolution to take the necessary steps to be prepared for emergencies.

Preparedness is an individual responsibility. By being prepared as individuals, we free up valuable resources, including allowing our first responders to assist those who are in the greatest need.

Self-reliance extends to helping neighbors and friends who you might reach before emergency responders do. Some people might need extra help. Be ready to lend a hand to those in need.

The following preparedness tips are offered to assist families, businesses and communities.

For families

  • Make sure your family has a plan in case of an emergency. Before an emergency happens, sit down together and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go and what you will do in an emergency.
  • Determine a neighborhood meeting place, a regional meeting place and an evacuation location.
  • Identify an out-of-town emergency contact. It might be easier to make a long distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact is important to help communicate among separated family members.
  • Be sure every member of your family knows the out-of-town phone number to call. You might have trouble getting through or the telephone system might be down altogether, so be patient.
  • You might also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time such as work, school or day care. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
  • Have an emergency supply kit.

Be sure to consider additional items to meet family members’ unique needs such as prescription medications and glasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food, extra water for your pet, leash and collar, books, games, puzzles or other activities for children and important family documents. Copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records should be placed in a waterproof, portable container.

  • If you are a parent or guardian of an elderly individual or person with functional/access need requirements, including children and adults with disabilities, make sure schools and care providers have emergency response plans.

Be sure to ask how they will communicate with families during a crisis, if they store adequate food, water and other basic supplies and if they are prepared to provide shelter where they are and where they plan to go if they must evacuate.

  • Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.

For workplaces

  • Think about what to do if your employees can’t go home. Make sure you have appropriate supplies readily available. Develop ways to communicate with your employees during work hours and off hours about pending emergencies and the company’s operating status.

  • For communities
    Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, receive a telephone call or emergency workers might go door to door.

    Lincoln Trail District Health Department works with local emergency partners throughout the district to prepare for emergencies through planning, training and exercise activities. This is done to make our response more efficient during the time of a disaster and, therefore, prepare our staff to better assist the residents of our counties.

    The health department also sponsors Lincoln Trail Medical Reserve Corps. The Medical Reserve Corps is a group of local volunteers who want to become better prepared to help their communities. To join, please contact Fred Singleton at (270) 769-1601, ext. 1046 or fred.singleton@ky.gov.

    Each citizen also needs to do her or his part to prepare for emergencies. Go to www.ready.gov and www.homelandsecurity.ky.gov/community for more information about preparing yourself, your family and your home for potential disasters.

    Donny Gill is a health educator at the Hardin County Health Department. He can be reached at donny.gill@ky.gov.