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Disaster Prep and First Response

Disaster Preparedness: 6 Things You Can Do Right Now

Whether it is a gas explosion in the Texas Panhandle or a mudslide in Southern California, the common denominator is that uncommon occurrences shake our world.

While we might not know when hurricanes, floods or tornadoes will strike, we do know that they can happen almost anywhere. During natural and man-made disasters, people are often injured or killed. To escape from harm, emergency preparedness is essential.

1. Stay in the know

Be informed about the types of disasters and emergencies that might occur in your area. Stay connected to real-time news, whether via radio, TV or internet, and keep a charger for your cell phone on hand. Also, know how your community will warn residents in the event of an emergency. Can everyone in your household recognize the sound of a tornado siren?

2. Stock emergency kits

Store a three-day supply of non-perishable food items and water in your home. In the trunk of your car, be sure to keep a properly inflated spare tire and a lug nut wrench, and, in the winter, add supplies such as a snow shovel, blanket and kitty litter for traction.

3. Map an escape route

Devise an evacuation route or fire escape route in your home. Practice with your family members. Talk about places to meet such as the basement (during a tornado), yard (during a fire) or on high ground (during a flood).

4. Focus on fire safety

A working smoke alarm will double your chances for survival in the event of a fire. Know how to shut off utilities and use a fire extinguisher. Also, put important documents in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.

5. Don’t drive in bad weather

“Turn around, don’t drown” is a registered trademark slogan of the National Weather Service — and for good reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. It takes just 12 inches of water to carry away a small car.

6. Get certified

Consider learning first aid and CPR — life-saving skills that can make you more confident in dealing with the unexpected.

The National Safety Council estimates your odds of dying in a cataclysmic storm at 1 in 63,679. Work to improve your odds by taking steps to protect yourself and your loved ones. Ask these three questions: What should I know? What should I have on hand? What should I do?

You may not always be able to predict disaster, but you can plan for safety.

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