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BBB: Make plans now before an emergency happens

  • Special to The Eagle
  • Published Friday, Sep. 6, 2013, at 3:01 p.m.

Since 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has encouraged communities, businesses and individuals to use the month of September as a time to prepare for emergency events.

Disasters, both natural and man-made, can have a less devastating impact when some time and energy are invested in advanced planning.

In Kansas we know all too well about the wrath of Mother Nature. In addition to tornadoes, our unusually wet summer has put flood threats back on the minds of many Kansans.

Take steps now that will make surviving emergencies much more likely.

A plan and a kit

Because you and your loved ones may not be together when a disaster hits, it’s important that you take the time now to talk about a plan with your family, friends and neighbors. These considerations should be part of your preparedness plan:

• Make a contact card for each family member, including children, kept in each member’s wallet, purse or backpack.

• Check with your child’s day care or school facility to be sure identification planning is part of their emergency plan.

• Designate a friend or relative who lives out of state for household members to notify that they are safe. There could be circumstances when a long-distance phone call is easier to make than a local one.

• Utilize the “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) program in your cellphone, to list the out-of-state contact, among others. Emergency workers often check that setting when a severe accident occurs.

• Subscribe to community alert systems that will send instant text messages to notify of bad weather, road closings or other emergencies. Local Office of Emergency Management websites list them.

• Consider what the emergency challenges of the very young, the elderly or others with special needs or physical challenges would be in a disaster and plan accordingly.

• Do not overlook planning for your household pets. Remember that they cannot survive on their own in the event of evacuation.

Having an emergency kit ready can be as important as the aforementioned planning. Here are some of the vital items to include:

• Water: one gallon per person per day for three days.

• Food: three-day supply of non-perishable food.

• Radio: battery-powered or hand crank. An NOAA Weather Radio is also useful.

• Flashlight and extra batteries.

• First aid kit.

• Whistle for signaling to get help.

• Dust mask and duct tape (for sheltering in place).

• Garbage bags and moist towelettes.

• Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities).

• Manual can opener.

• Local maps.

• Cellphones and chargers.

Also needed might be prescription medications, infant formula and diapers, pet supplies and cash. Don’t forget to check your kit periodically and replace expired items.

Other considerations

Among several other steps recommended by FEMA are cataloging your valuables, which should include taking pictures of them and placing those in a safe location.

Place copies of important documents like birth certificates, passports and insurance policies in waterproof, portable containers near escape routes.

There are many important aspects to emergency planning. That is precisely why this vital job of preparation should be done well in advance of whatever unexpected event may take place.

For more information, go to community.fema.gov.

Denise Groene is state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas, which may be reached at 800-856-2417 or www.kansasplains.bbb.org.

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