BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – President Barack Obama has declared September National Preparedness Month and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, urge Alabamians and their families to take this time to update their disaster preparedness plan.
As the April tornadoes and Hurricane Irene illustrate, people may need to survive on their own after an emergency. This means having food, water, and other supplies for each family member for at least three days.
“Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. It is important to get a kit, make a plan, and be informed of disasters that can occur in Alabama,” said Jeff Byard, state coordinating officer for AEMA.
Recommended items in a basic emergency supply kit should last for up to 72 hours before help arrives. These items include bottled water, non-perishable food, a NOAA weather radio, first aid kit and a battery-powered flashlight. A printable list can be found at Ready.gov. Also, remember the unique needs of family members, as well as any pets, when making an emergency supply kit and a family emergency plan.
Family members may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations in case of emergency. The first important decision is to create a family plan, depending on the type of disaster and whether you stay put or evacuate.
As always, follow the direction of local officials and if you must evacuate, plan places where family members will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Also, choose several destinations for different emergencies and identify an out-of-town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
Preparations change according to an area’s most common disasters. In Alabama, the common weather-related risks are extreme heat, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms. Create a plan for each of these situations.
Also inquire about emergency plans at work, daycare, schools and other places where your family spends time....