LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Even a little planning can help folks keep their cool in a disaster.
One of the best time investments a family can make is planning for disasters and holding emergency drills, said officials with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"Preparation is the key to helping people stay calm and clear-headed when disaster strikes," said State Coordinating Officer David Maxwell. "We hope Arkansans who haven't prepared an emergency plan will take a few minutes to do so. That time investment will pay big dividends."
The Internet offers several resources, including www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov. Both sites contain a wealth of information about preparedness and planning. With September designated as National Preparedness Month, a variety of emergency management agencies, including ADEM, will post related material on their websites.
"People can make basic preparations for emergencies in the time it takes to run a load of laundry," said Federal Coordinating Officer Nancy M. Casper. "We encourage Arkansans to take time now to create or review emergency plans. Their futures may depend on it."
To get started on their own plans, families should establish places inside and outside the home for everyone to meet in case of an emergency. For instance, a family might designate the bedroom of a child or a family member with a disability to reassure them that their needs will be met. Exterior gathering spots might include the end of the driveway in a rural area or a nearby street corner in the city or suburbs.
From there, establish at least two escape routes and practice using them. Fires and debris can result in blocked hallways and stairwells, and rehearsing a back-up plan means family members are less likely to panic. And involve children in planning - they may see possibilities adults miss.
Remember to designate a contact person in case family members get separated. Each family member should memorize that person's number or email. The advent of social media, such as Twitter, gives families new ways to connect in emergencies. Consider the most effective ways to use new technology.
Consider carefully what necessary items to collect in an evacuation. Increasingly, people keep important documents on computers, so back up data often on a flash drive and keep it handy. Other items include wallets, medications and items for infants. In the case of threatening weather, pack what's needed and keep it in a safe place in the home or by the exit.
Visit www.fema.gov or www.adem.arkansas.gov for news and information about this disaster. Follow FEMA tweets about the Arkansas disaster at www.twitter.com/femaregion6. Other online resources include blog.fema.gov, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.