Harris: Be ready for different disasters

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 3, 2015

National Preparedness Month kicks off this week, and local EMA director Susan Harris said it’s a good opportunity for residents to make sure they are ready for different disaster scenarios.

Harris said this year’s theme for the month focuses on having an accurate disaster plan in place.

“Planning is the key. A disaster plan can be invaluable in any number of emergency situations,” Harris said. “Make a plan, communicate that plan to all family members and drill that plan.”

The American Red Cross suggests some basic steps in making a storm plan and making sure that family members are safe. Tips include:

• Meet with your family or household members.

Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies

Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.

If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.

• Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency

Choose two places to meet:

• Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire

• Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate

Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

• Plan what to do if you have to evacuate

Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel/motel, stay with friends or relatives. There are limited Red Cross shelters in Covington County and only will be open after a storm. So plan now on how to shelter your family.

Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.

Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.

• Let Your Family Know You’re Safe

According to the Ready.gov website, during National Preparedness Month each week will have a specific theme — the first week will focus on flooding, the second week will be wildfires, the third week hurricanes, the fourth week power outages and the last few days will lead up to National PrepareAthon Day on Sept. 30.