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Disaster Prep & First Response

5 Things to Consider When Preparing for a Disaster

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

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

1. Know the signs

Be informed of the types of disasters and emergencies that might occur in your area. Stay connected (radio, TV, internet). Know how your community will warn residents in the event of an emergency. Do your children recognize the sound of a tornado siren? Keep a charger at the ready for your cell phone.

2. Stock emergency kits

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

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). A working smoke alarm will cut the chances of dying in a fire in half. Know how to shut off utilities and how to use a fire extinguisher. Put important documents in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.

4. Avoid vehicles

“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.

5. 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.

Deborah Hersman, President and CEO, National Safety Council, [email protected]

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