Be pre­pared this month, all year long

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Septem­ber is Na­tional Pre­pared­ness Month, and it’s be­ing marked by the state of Mary­land and Charles County as well. Emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials are urg­ing cit­i­zens to de­velop emer­gency plans for their fam­i­lies, pets and com­mu­ni­ties.

The county’s depart­ment of emer­gency ser­vices (www.charlescoun­tymd.gov/es/) re­minds res­i­dents that it’s a good time to par­tic­i­pate in events to help pro­mote disas­ter pre­pared­ness.

The Mary­land Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency is on the front lines of this aware­ness cam­paign as well. “The flood­ing in El­li­cott City this sum­mer should be a re­minder to all of us that dis­as­ters can strike any­time,” MEMA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Russ Strick­land said this month. “We need to re­mem­ber that this is the most likely time of year for a hur­ri­cane to hit our area. Don’t wait un­til a disas­ter is on your doorstep to start pre­par­ing.”

In­deed, some of the area’s worst hur­ri­canes and trop­i­cal storms have come dur­ing Septem­ber. And with Trop­i­cal Storm Lisa and Trop­i­cal De­pres­sion Karl twist­ing around in the North At­lantic this week, it’s food for thought.

Strick­land said mak­ing prepa­ra­tions dur­ing rou­tine times, when threats are not im­mi­nent, can make com­mu­ni­ties more re­silient later. Weather haz­ards com­mon to this area in­clude flood­ing, high winds and se­vere thun­der­storms dur­ing warmer months, and snow and ice dur­ing the win­ter.

One of the eas­i­est ways to be pre­pared is to build an emer­gency sup­ply kit. The kits are a col­lec­tion of ba­sic items fam­i­lies may need in the event of an emer­gency. As­sem­ble your kit well in ad­vance of an emer­gency, be­cause you may not have time to search for the sup­plies you need or shop for them. Keep­ing your kit or­ga­nized in some sort of con­tainer also en­sures that if you have to evac­u­ate, you can quickly take your kit with you.

There are a num­ber of ba­sic items that should go into the kit that you prob­a­bly al­ready have around the house, like water, food, a flash­light, a first aid kit, a can opener and a ra­dio. There are other items that you may not have thought about or may not have at home, like dust masks, moist tow­elettes, garbage bags or a sleep­ing bag.

MEMA also rec­om­mends re­mem­ber­ing items like di­a­pers, baby for­mula, med­i­ca­tions, con­tact lenses and sup­plies, spe­cial food, or col­or­ing books and ac­tiv­i­ties for kids. You can get a full list­ing of what should go in your emer­gency kit and how you can main­tain it at ready.gov/build-a-kit.

More ideas and in­for­ma­tion for pre­par­ing for ad­verse weather can be found at www.mema.mary­land.gov/Pages/emer­gen­cies.aspx, a Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency site, www.ready.gov, or at the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice’s www.weather.gov/safety.

We join with emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials in call­ing for ev­ery­one to take steps to be­come bet­ter pre­pared for an emer­gency. Whether it’s at home, at work, at school or in the com­mu­nity, there’s a lot that you can do to be ready and help oth­ers be ready, too.

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