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Health Department urges people to have a plan in case of natural disaster

Posted 18 September 2018 at 4:53 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Health Department

Fierce winds whipped across Orleans County and Western New York in this photo from Nov. 24, 2014, which shows the Orleans County Courthouse and County Clerks Building.

There are many reasons to prepare for an emergency, such as a natural disaster, a power outage or another crisis.

Most Americans do not have supplies set aside or plans in place to protect their own or their family’s health and safety. National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year.

Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator of Genesee and Orleans Counties, encourages all residents to take the time to prepare for an emergency now. “Disasters can strike at any time,” Cheverie said. “One of the most important tools every individual and family can have to protect themselves in possible emergencies is a plan of action.”

Make and Practice Your Plan

Having a family emergency plan will save time and make real situations less stressful. As you plan ahead about what to do during an emergency, be sure to take into account any members of your family with special needs, specific preparations for children, and what you will do with your pets.

Here are a few simple things you can do to start your Emergency Action Plan:

Create a Communication Plan

Make a plan as a family for communicating in the event that you are separated during an emergency. Use a sheet or card with all the phone numbers and information every individual in the family may need, and make sure every member of the family has a copy of the communication plan. Make sure to regularly review and update the contact list as needed.

Make an Evacuation Plan

As a family, discuss where you will go in the event of an emergency. Discuss where your children will go if they are in school or daycare at the time of the emergency, and make sure they understand where you will be. Your plan should also include how to safely shut off all utilities.

Practice Your Plan

Set up practice drills at least twice a year for your family to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. Update your plan according to any issues that arise. Make sure everyone knows where the plan is located.

Learn Life Saving Skills

If something happens where people are injured, act quickly and with a purpose. Remember to call 911 as soon as possible. Move the injured away from any remaining danger and do anything within your ability to keep the person alive. This may include: applying pressure to stop bleeding, repositioning the injured person to help them breath, or by simply talking to them and providing comfort if they are conscious.

Check Your Coverage

Your home and personal belongings are meaningful and valuable assets. If a disaster strikes, having insurance for your home is the best way to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild, or replace whatever is damaged. Yet, more than half of all homeowners in the United States do not carry adequate homeowners insurance to replace their home and its contents should a catastrophic loss occur. Now, before a disaster strikes, take the time to:

1. Document Your Property: Store paper copies in a waterproof and fireproof box, safe, or bank deposit box. Leave copies with trusted relatives or friends. Secure electronic copies with strong passwords and save them on a flash or external hard drive in your waterproof box or safe.

2. Understand Your Options for Coverage: An insurance professional can help you customize your home insurance policy based on your particular needs.

3. Ensure You Have Appropriate Insurance for Relevant Hazards: Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquakes and floods. Talk with your insurance professional if you reside in a flood zone or are at risk for flooding or mudflows.

Save For an Emergency

Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Taking the time now to collect and secure these critical records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.

In addition to financially saving for an emergency, it is also important to stock up on essential items you may need, but might not have access to in the event of an emergency. A large-scale disaster or unexpected emergency can limit your access to food, safe water, and medical supplies for days or weeks.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends you have a basic emergency supply kit that includes enough food and water for each of your family members for at least 72 hours — that’s 1 gallon of water per day per person and canned (nonperishable) food for three days. Other supplies on their list includes flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, a basic first-aid kit, trash bags for safe sanitary waste disposal, a week supply of prescription medications, pet supplies (if needed), as well as entertainment such as books, magazines, playing cards, and coloring books with crayons. It is also important to keep your emergency kit up to date, replacing water and perishables periodically.

Though National Preparedness Month concludes at the end of September, the conversation about emergency preparedness should not. Cheverie encourages residents to take action now by enrolling in a skills class such as CPR or Stop the Bleed, participating in community exercises, and volunteering to support local first responders.

“The good news is that it is never too late to prepare for a public health emergency,” he said. “You can create plans, make healthy choices, and download free resources, such as the Ready Genesee and Orleans Aware Mobile Apps to stay informed and up-to-date on what is happening in your local community.”

The Ready Genesee and Orleans Aware Mobile Apps are free and available to everyone using an iOS or an Android device. The apps can be downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play.

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