September is National Preparedness Month and the theme of this year’s awareness campaign is “Prepared, not scared.”
Here are five things to know about emergency-preparedness from Grayson County Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Samantha Allison and the federal government website www.ready.gov.
1. Assemble a disaster kit
Allison said a basic disaster kit is meant to get a group or household through the first 72 hours that follow a large-scale emergency. Kits should include enough non-perishable food and medicine for three days, as well as one gallon of water per person, per day.
Batteries, lanterns, fuel, and an emergency radio capable of receiving all-hazard alerts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should all be included as well, but documentation can also be crucial.
“Paper copies of important documents, your insurance policy and a list of phone numbers are often overlooked,” Allison said. “A lot of times, people do not have enough battery power on their phones and don’t know the numbers or the information to get in touch with people like their agent, or their doctors.”
2. Develop an emergency plan with family, coworkers
Families are encouraged to develop two types of preparedness plans: one for emergencies at home and another for when they happen elsewhere.
“Talk about what to do in the event of a fire at the house, know all the ways to get out of the house and identify a a reunification point outside, like the mailbox across the street,” Allison said. “And be sure make a plan for when you’re away from the house and that you know how to get in touch with everyone. It’s also important to have kids physically act out the plan. Have drills just like you would at work or school.”
Businesses and workplaces should also develop response plans.
“We encourage that every workplace and every campus within that workplace develop and practice its fire plan and its plans for severe weather and active shooters,” Allison said.
3. Build savings, and know what’s covered by insurance
Government relief agencies and insurance companies can help get disaster victims get back on their feet, but ready.gov recommends saving for the unexpected, before it hits.
“A few hundred dollars set aside in an account can be a lifesaver after a major emergency,” Allison said. “People often run into unexpected costs afterward and that little bit of savings can help with gas, food, medicine and finding a place to stay.”
Ready.gov also advises homeowners and renters to explore the insurance coverage options available to them and to have a conversation with an agent about the details of one’s policies and when coverage goes into effect.
4. Stay aware
Allison said staying aware of potential hazards can be as simple as checking the weather forecast each day, but it also requires some vigilance, like noting a building’s entrances and exits and keeping an eye and ear out for suspicious activity.
Members of the public can stay up to date by following a variety of reputable news and emergency-management agencies, many of which will send alerts via smartphone notification. Allison recommended that all Grayson County residents opt into it’s CodeRED alert system, which posts warnings in both English and Spanish.
“It will notify you for any emergency situation, like boil-water notices, calls for an evacuation, hazmat emergencies, severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood and tornado warnings,” Allison said.
5. Connect with the community
Ready.gov said individuals can help make their communities safer by volunteering, donating blood and completing courses for life-saving skills, like CPR and first-aid.
The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and a number of other aid organizations often respond to emergencies in Grayson County, but if a major emergency were to unfold anywhere in Texoma, Allison said the community will call on all who are able and willing to help.
“Volunteers are crucial to our community, its preparedness and recovery,” Allison said.