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Community Relations Monthly E-Tip: Emergency Preparedness

February E-Tip

Being prepared for a disaster can help you survive the event, help you during the aftermath, and also alleviate the huge workload emergency personnel will face following any large disaster. Natural disasters are unavoidable, but damage and injury can be minimized by taking steps to be prepared before the event happens.

A major disaster will cause a large burden on emergency services and patient care facilities. A major impact will also be felt on infrastructure - utilities, transportation, food supplies and communications. In other words, there will be a large loss of service for many things we take for granted each day. The most important facet of emergency preparedness is self-sufficiency for three to five days. Before the disaster, prepare an emergency kit containing food, water and supplies. Supplies should include:

  • Extra blankets and clothes.
  • Shoes suitable for walking through debris.
  • A three day supply of water; one gallon for each person per day.
  • Non-perishable foods and a manual can opener. Also include baby food, formula, and pet food if applicable.
  • First aid kit including prescription and non-prescription medications such as Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, etc. If you have a prescription medication, keep a thirty-day supply on hand.
  • Battery operated radio, extra batteries, flashlights and cell phones. Invest in solar chargers!
  • Personal items such as toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, diapers, trash bags, etc.
  • A portable generator is helpful if available.
  • If possible, keep extra cash in your emergency kit. Banks and ATM’s may not be working.
  • Keep the gas tank of your vehicle filled at least halfway at all times and in good working order. 

In Kern County, one of our most likely natural disasters we face is earthquakes. Some of the safest places you can be during an earthquake are under sturdy tables or desks, against interior walls, or near solid door frames. Dangerous locations to be near during an earthquake include windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall-unsecured furniture. Survey your home and office to make sure heavy pictures, windows, or mirrors are not over beds or sitting areas.     

Know what to do if instructed to evacuate your home or neighborhood during a disaster. Family members should all know how to get out of the house with two ways out of each room. Be familiar with the evacuation plan of the complex if you live in an apartment building. Make a plan for how to take care of pets in the event of an evacuation.

Select an out of state friend or relative for family members to call to report their condition and whereabouts. Cell towers may not be operable, so do not rely on your cell phone as your family’s only means of communication. Often times out of state phone lines are easier to access than local lines during a disaster. Each family member can check in with the out of state contact, communicating through this contact. Also, decide where your family will meet and who will pick up children and other family members if you become separated during a disaster. 

Get to know your neighbors, and if you don’t have a Neighborhood Watch established then organize setting one up. We can help! Neighborhood Watches are a great step to take in an emergency preparedness plan. During a major disaster where emergency personnel are inundated with calls for service, your neighbors might be your first line to getting help and being safe. Establish an emergency plan with your Neighborhood Watch. Create and include all neighbors on a phone tree designating who will call whom. Know your neighbors professions, for example who is the nurse, who is the fireman, policemen, teacher, etc. Have a resource list for tools, talents, equipment and materials available in your neighborhood. Your neighborhood could be its own community in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack. You will need to rely on each other for some time--possibly three or four days. 

Being “prepared” can save not only your own life, but your loved ones as well. To start a Neighborhood Watch Group, contact the Community Relations Unit at (661) 326-3053.

For more information on emergency preparedness, check out the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready