September is National Preparedness Month where the purpose is to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning.
In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, many were left re-evaluating their readiness to both avoid and survive disaster; especially Floridians, who were spared a direct hit from the strongest category 5 hurricane recorded in neighboring Bahama Islands.
Everyone in the sunshine state may agree it makes sense to have a plan in place, however, revisiting that plan and making necessary adjustments for life changes such as new additions to one’s family or a move is vital.
Make a Plan
Make an Emergency Plan; Update Your Existing Plan
Emergency plans can be like buying into insurance policies, because they take resources such as time and money upfront; though they may never need to be used. However, your time spent researching evacuation zones and funding an emergency disaster plan might even save a life.
Remember to share your plan with your household, family and friends.
Below are 4 staple questions that should be addressed in every plan and updated as needed.
1. What is my shelter?
Consider the hazard and choose a place in your home or other building that is the safest. For example, if you are taking shelter due to a tornado, you will want to stay away from windows, doors, corners and outside walls.
If your plan includes seeking public shelter, then you’ll want to find out ahead of time which are the designated buildings in your county that will be providing shelter, and if they accommodate pets.
Search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and a Zip Code to 43362.
2. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure, are one way public safety officials can be timely and effective in warning the public about serious emergencies.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.
3. What is my evacuation route?
Follow the instructions given by your local officials and remember that your evacuation route may even be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
Identify several places you could go such as a hotel or friend’s home in another town.
Be familiar with alternative routes and means of transportation.
4. What is my family/household communication plan?
Communication through phones and computers often times becomes disrupted especially if there is no electricity during or after a disaster hits. It is important for families to have a communication plan, and it is just as important to practice your family’s plan, especially when children are involved.
Visit the Department of Homeland Security (FEMA) for printable forms on family communication plans.
With this near-miss for Floridians still in sight, now is the time to make-a-plan or go over the one you may have made last hurricane season. Hopefully you will never have to contend with a direct hit from a hurricane or the unexpected injury and aftermath that may follow. And as FEMA’s 2019 theme says: Don’t Be Scared, Be Prepared!