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Friday, September 13, 2013

Is today the day before?

By: Mike Lovas, Saint Paul Emergency Management

The day before the Joplin, Mo. tornado was like any other day. Graduation ceremonies and parties were held across the city and neighboring areas. There were no signs that the very next day their communities would be ripped apart by Mother Nature. Emergency preparedness is an important step in safety and can make a difference when disasters strike. September is National Preparedness Month. 

Police, fire and rescue personnel may not always be able to reach you quickly in an emergency or disaster. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care. Not only will it help keep you safer or help you better react to situations, but will help the community recover faster. Take time today to prepare for tomorrow.

Knowing about the local emergency contacts, plans for sheltering and evacuation routes will help you develop your household plan and will aid you during a crisis. By building a plan for your household members customized for where you live, work, attend school and frequent you will help reduce the impact of disasters and save lives. Remember to plan for people with disabilities, special needs, senior citizens who need additional time or support and pets. Make a plan for ensuring needed medication is on hand, babies and young children have necessary items such as diapers and formula and even a favored toy for young children.

Before a disaster, identify how you will be alerted of an impending hazardous event. NOAA Weather Radios are the best way to receive weather alerts. TV, Radio and now cell phone alerts are additional ways to receive alerts and warning messages. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are free, automatic text messages that will send emergency alerts, including weather warnings and AMBER Alerts, to your cell phone. This is a newer program and you may have already seen these messages or the monthly test messages appear on your phone. While they aren’t the only resource for alerts you should rely on, it is another tool to receive crucial information.

It is essential to be informed, make a plan and build a kit. A kit should be customized to your household’s needs, including non-perishable food, water, medication, clothing, blankets, NOAA radio, batteries, flashlights, whistles, closed-toe shoes, charging cables for electronic devices with a backup battery charger, baby care items such as diapers and formula, tools to shut off utilities and gas lines, and other essential items. For home safety, store important documents, serial numbers, images and even a video tour of your home in a fire-resistant safe on removable storage device you can update such as a “thumb drive” flash media device.

Is today the day before a disaster? We’ll find out tomorrow.
 
For more tips and helpful information visit: http://www.ready.gov/minnesota
What does a day before a disaster look like?  October 17, 1989: "The Day Before"
 

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