September is National Preparedness Month and considering some of the experiences we’ve had here in Orange County over the past few years, we know what a critical difference being prepared can make. Storms like Irene, Lee, Sandy, and even the Halloween blizzard kept our emergency services personnel, public works employees, and other staffers extremely busy. These storms also bring to mind things like power outages, flooding, road closures, and fuel shortages. One of the lessons learned as we’ve dealt with these storms is that advanced planning is important to ensuring positive outcomes.
In recognition of National Preparedness Month, Orange County Commissioner of Emergency Services Walter Koury and I are asking you to take an active part in helping your family and friends prepare for whatever may come. Here are a few tips from FEMA on how you can protect those that matter to you - best of all, you can get prepared without spending a fortune.
Make a Plan. Work with your family and neighbors to make an emergency plan for the types of disasters that affect your area. Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. You can download Family Emergency Plan templates at www.Ready.gov/make-a-plan.
Update Contact Information. Having accurate records for family, friends, and neighbors will help you stay in touch and possibly help those in need. Make sure updated contact information is posted in visible places throughout your house and workplace.
Check Your Policy. Whether you own or rent your home or place of business, review your insurance policy annually and make any necessary changes to ensure your coverage will get you back on your feet quickly.
Make a Ready List. You may not need all of the items in store bought preparedness kits. Choose the essentials that fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to keep supplies at work and in your car. Basic items include water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days), food (at least a three day supply of non-perishable food), battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio, flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle (to signal for help), dust mask, plastic sheeting, duct tape, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a manual can opener for food, local maps, and cash. Consider individual needs as well – you may need prescription medications, eye glasses, infant formula, or pet food.
Shop Smart. Plan ahead – don’t buy preparedness items just before a storm when they’re expensive and supplies will be in high demand. Shop end of season sales and check out used goods stores. Buy preparedness items throughout the year, instead of all at once, and you won’t notice the cost as much.
Make Sure it Keeps. Store water in safe, containers. There’s no need to buy expensive bottled water, just make sure your water containers are disinfected and airtight.
Request a Gift. Suggest preparedness supplies as gifts from your friends and family. It just might save your life.
Trade a Night Out. Trade one night out to fund your 72-hour kit. Taking a family of four to the movies can cost upwards of $80 these days. Staying in for just one night could fund your Ready kit.
Start now! Take small steps toward preparedness and before you know it, you will be ready!
Until next week, I wish you all health and happiness.