Planning for an Emergency - Week 4

How are things going? Hopefully you have had the interest, time and a little money to begin your planning efforts for an emergency. The last three weeks have placed an emphasis on obtaining emergency supplies, developing plans for emergency situations and learning more about our local risks. This week will continue the same theme.Earlier this week, many of us were fortunate to attend the Gangs Out Of Downey (GOOD) luncheon. The featured speaker, UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel, delivered a great presentation on the value of collaboration and positive support. He spoke of how he coached his current and former players and how they learned from his support and influence. He made a point of mentioning how important having a 'culture' was to the UCLA football program. He stressed the importance of 'chipping in' and being a part of the community. Finally, he told everyone that Downey was a special place because of the teamwork that takes place here between the City, the school district and the community. The same message applies when we prepare for an emergency. It takes a commitment to the process and the support of the members of the team (family, neighborhood, business) to successfully meet the objectives. It is also helpful if we develop a culture that places a value on being prepared. We can all contribute to with our best efforts. Whether it's obtaining specific supplies, developing specific plans or learning new skills, we all have a part in emergency preparedness. This week let's build a preparedness kit for our cars. A basic kit should include: - a one day ration of heat tolerant food (usually some type of dried / packaged food) - a gallon of water - a basic first-aid kit - pair of walking shoes - emergency blanket - pair of gloves - flashlight with batteries - plastic sheet or rain poncho - all items should be stored in a container in the vehicle The concept of the car kit gives drivers (and riders) options should a disaster occur. It may be that it is best to stay with the vehicle, hence the food and water supply. However, the situation may require occupants to leave the vehicle and evacuate to a safer more secure area. While we are considering the options a good preparedness kit gives us, let's start thinking about medications. We should be considering both over-the-counter and prescription medications. When a disaster strikes, we could find the local pharmacies are not as accessible as we would like. Many times we wait until we run out of a pain reliever or specific medication before we decide to 'fill' the order. The more prepared way to deal with this situation is to buy our medications ahead of time. Even ordering medications using the mail system can be done ahead of time. It just takes a little planning. It's that 'preparedness culture' concept, again. So, this week, take the necessary steps to ensure you always have a weeks worth of your medications on-hand. Whether it requires a trip to the store, sending in an order or making a notation on a calendar (for the next order), let's get this done. Final objective for this week is to start drafting your personal disaster plan. So what is this? It's a plan of action for you and your family should a disaster strike. The first step of the plan should be to ensure all family members have a list of the cell, school and business phone numbers. These numbers should be loaded into each cell phone and a 'hard-copy' of the numbers should be carried by everyone as well (the battery on your cell phone will run-down eventually). An out-of-state phone number for a relative or friend should be included in the list. The distant number serves two purposes. Often times it is possible to 'call-out' of the area after a disaster when the local lines are jammed and the out-of-state number serves as a point of contact should family or business members find themselves separated after a disaster. And don't forget to share your communication plans with your family members and trusted co-workers. Working together is the way to get through a disaster and the best way to recover from one. Mark Sauter is deputy city manager in charge of emergency preparedness for the city of Downey.

********** Published: April 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 1