Emergencies happen such as the Joplin, MO tornado of 2011 or this past winter’s extended power outages in the Southeastern United States due to ice. No one wants to think about accidents or disasters but being prepared for an emergency can help protect you and your family.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has developed a program called ‘Ready in 3’ which includes three steps:
Step 1: Create a Plan Develop an emergency plan for you and your family. Talk about how you will reach each other in different situations. Consider contacting the same friend or family member by phone or e-mail. Think about making an out-of-town family member or friend the contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town. If you use telecommunications relay services, look into back-up options in case relay services fail. Teach your family members how to text. During an emergency it is often easier to get a text message delivered rather than a phone call.
Make plans for two situations: staying home or leaving. You should be prepared to stay in one place or to evacuate depending on the type of emergency.
Because different disasters may require you to go to different places, make sure you identify a meeting place in your neighborhood, a meeting place just outside your neighborhood, and a meeting place out of town. Consider what to do with your pets who may not be allowed in emergency shelters.
If necessary, look into evacuation assistive devices, or the installation of ramps at emergency exits. Identify an area where public safety officials can assist you in any building that you visit regularly. Contact the building safety director for help.
If you receive regular services (home health care, transportation, dialysis), make a plan with each service provider. Learn about their disaster plans and how to contact them in an emergency. Work with them to identify back-up service providers.
Step 2: Prepare an Emergency Kit If an emergency happens, you may not be able to get food or water for days or weeks. Try to have three days’ worth of food and one gallon-per-day of fresh water for each person in your plan. The kit should be kept in a container that can be easily carried in case you have to leave home. Consider purchasing an item for your kit each time that you go shopping. Recommended basic emergency supplies include:
One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with extra batteries
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities such as water and gas at the main switches
Flashlight and extra batteries
First Aid Kit
Whistle to signal for help
Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
Pet food, extra water, leash, and supplies for your service animal
A list of allergies
Extra eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries
A list of the brand, style, and serial numbers of medical devices
A list of doctors
Copies of medical insurance and Medicare cards
Extra wheelchair batteries or other special equipment
Equipment such as wheelchairs, canes, or walkers should be labeled with your name.
Clean clothes & sturdy shoes
A list of prescription and non-prescription medications & dosages
Formula & baby food if there is an infant in your home.
Step 3: Listen for information. It is important to stay calm in an emergency. Get as much information about the situation as possible. City, county, and state officials have developed emergency plans. During an emergency, it is important to follow their instructions and advice.
Show each family member how and when to turn off the water and gas at the main switches.
Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher and show them where it is kept.
Check your emergency supplies throughout the year to replace batteries, food, water as needed.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
Take a first aid / CPR class.
Subscribe to an emergency alert system (http://www.fema.gov/wireless-emergency-alerts).
Independent Living Specialists can work with individuals, youth and adults, in one-on-one or in group settings to improve an emergency preparedness plan. Specialists can work with individuals either at the resource center located at 1760 Southridge Drive, Jefferson City, MO or in an individual’s home setting. ILRC’s ADA Coordinator can also work with businesses regarding accessibility. Contact ILRC today to get started.