GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – Hurricane season is officially over, but residents should remember that disaster preparedness is a year-round responsibility.
“Embracing a culture of preparedness starts not in Washington, DC, but at home,” said FEMA’s Administrator Brock Long. “We need to work to encourage everybody to question how prepared they are, and to act. Do you have CPR training? Do you know how to shut off the water valves and the gas valves in your home? Do you know what to do when a disaster strikes?”
Having a preparedness plan helps everyone act quickly and decisively in the face of a disaster and can minimize loss of property and prevent death and injury.
First responders cannot always reach disaster survivors quickly, so it is important to be able to take care of injured or disabled family members until help arrives. Citizens can help by learning first aid or volunteering with other local organizations.
Everyone should have an emergency kit with enough supplies to survive for 10 days, including water, non-perishable food, non-electric can openers, flashlights, batteries, cash and important family documents. Children also should be allowed to include favorite small toys or games.
Children should be encouraged to participate in any family emergency planning. Teach kids how to communicate during an emergency, including how to dial 9-1-1 or send text messages. Practicing a plan also helps children know what to do during a disaster.
Budget concerns can keep families from buying all the items necessary for an emergency kit. However, it is not essential to make all the purchases at once. Families are encouraged to spread out the purchase of supplies and make use of coupons and discounts. Buying used radios and flashlights also can be more affordable.
An emergency plan should also include ensuring those with disabilities or special needs have a proper evacuation plan. Plan transportation needs ahead of time and make sure those with medical needs have backup power for equipment.
Federal Coordinating Office Michael Byrne said citizens are our best first responders. “This is when neighbor helping neighbor is not just a phrase or an idea, but reality,” he said. “They all contribute to the response from local, federal and private sector partners.”
For more information on how to better prepare for disasters and tips on developing a family emergency kit, visit www.ready.gov. Visit this link to learn more about how to be the help until help arrives.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) 711/VRS - Video Relay Service. Multilingual operators are available. (Press 2 for Spanish). TTY call 800-462-7585.
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