Kansas City, MO -- Since the nation's alert level was raised on February 7, Americans have focused their attention on preparedness -- what they as individuals can do to protect themselves and their communities. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security launched a new website, www.ready.gov, to educate citizens on how to do just that.
The aim of the Department's new information campaign is to reduce fears and provide information by outlining specific actions people can take to protect themselves, their families and their communities in the wake of an attack, or another emergency situation. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected are the same for both a natural or man-made emergency.
There are three primary components to any family's basic emergency preparedness plan: an emergency supply kit, a family communications plan and information.
Emergency Supply Kit:
Start with three days worth of non-perishable food and water. Remember, even if your community is not directly affected by an attack, your life and daily routine may be disrupted. You may need to shelter at home for a couple of days. Roads and stores may be closed -- electricity may be turned off -- your water supply might be interrupted.
Add flashlights and a battery-powered radio to hear the latest instructions from local authorities. Don't forget extra batteries, a blanket, a first aid kit and medicines, and a manual can opener. Stash away duct tape and pre-measured plastic sheeting for future use. Experts tell us that a safe room inside your house or apartment can help protect you from airborne contaminants for approximately five hours -- that could be just enough time for a chemical or biological agent to blow away.
Make certain that everyone in the family knows how to get in touch, and knows what the emergency plan is for different types of attacks. Choose a meeting place, maybe a friend or relative's house, that's well away from your neighborhood. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-state contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Keep your gas tank half-full. And always make sure you have a set of emergency and contact numbers posted by the phone.
Every state, every community, every school and every workplace should have an emergency plan. Find out what that plan is and who is in charge. If your school or employer does not have a plan, volunteer to be part of a group to create one.
Arm yourself with more information -- emergency phone numbers, community emergency plans, web sites with such information.
Visit www.ready.gov for more detailed information on developing an emergency supply kit and a communications plan. It contains specific information on types of terrorist events and actions you can take to lessen your risk. You can also call 1-800-BE-READY (800-237-3239) to order a free brochure: Preparing Makes Sense: GET READY NOW.
You can access FEMA's Are You Ready? A Guide To Citizen Preparedness at www.fema.gov/areyouready/
Some other websites offering good information: