JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Even without flooding, sitting inside a cozy home during wet weather can be a great time to think about preparedness for emergency situations, state and federal officials remind Missourians.
The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) have many suggestions during September's National Preparedness Month for residents and business owners to help them be ready in the event of serious weather-rain, snow, ice or tornadoes.
"One key lesson we can take away from a disaster is the importance of being prepared to deal with adversity," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Karl, in charge of federal disaster recovery efforts in Missouri for FEMA. "We see time and time again that people who are prepared for disasters are able to recover more quickly from emergencies."
State Coordinating Officer Ronald M. Reynolds emphasized it is important to listen to emergency officials' warnings and instructions and to follow good intentions with action.
"No amount of pre-disaster planning works if you don't work the plan," Reynolds said. "And no plan is worth risking your life to follow if the best option is simply to get out of harm's way."
Both officials recommend taking the following steps:
- Develop a family disaster plan and know how to stay safe.
- Discuss what your family should do when a disaster strikes and where you might go in an evacuation ? to a shelter, hotel or to stay with family or friends. Don't forget about pets. Many shelters will not permit them, so figure out beforehand how to care for them.
- Know and review your evacuation routes and never drive through high water.
- Develop a family communication plan. Identify a friend or relative in another state or city to serve as a point of contact in case family members are separated.
- Put together a disaster kit and store it in a portable container in case of evacuation. The kit should include:
- At least a three-day supply of food and bottled water for each family member;
- A manual can opener;
- Battery-powered radio and flashlights with extra batteries;
- First aid kit with family members' medications;
- Hygiene and personal care items;
- Emergency contact list and phone numbers;
- Pet supplies, especially for service animals;
- Copies of important papers including insurance policies and bank account information;
- Emergency cash or credit card in the case of an evacuation with little notice.
- Pay special attention to taking along necessities for people with special needs.
- Listen for information about what to do and where to go during an actual emergency.
It is important to stay calm in an emergency. Get as much information about the situation as possible. City, county, and state officials have developed emergency plans. In the event of an actual emergency, it's important to follow their instructions and advice. They will provide you with the latest information.
Know the risks from flooding, ice storms, tornadoes and other events
Determine the risk. Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning or a tornado watch and tornado warning. A warning means you're headed for a real confrontation with the weather, a watch means to be on the alert for possibilities.
Reduce the potential for damage and loss.
Consider flood insurance as well as property insurance against strong winds. Review your insurance coverage with your insurance agent, and update your coverage amounts. Consider elevating utilities or appliances - even the entire h...