In a guest commentary, a federal official urges Washingtonians to prepare themselves in case of disaster
No matter where you live, a natural disaster can strike at any time. Here in the Northwest, we’re told to expect the next big earthquake at any time. Many of our majestic mountains are dormant volcanoes. The natural beauty of our forests can turn into horrible forest fires from a carelessly thrown cigarette butt. Extreme winter storms are a serious risk. Floods are common throughout our region, and we also get the occasional tornado.
While sometimes instantly fatal, survival often depends on whether you are prepared.
The Washington State Department of Health maintains the Emergency Preparedness website with information on how to prepare for all the above disasters and more. They also include emergency telephone numbers and links to local health departments.
Are you and your family ready for a disaster? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers three simple steps to be prepared: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed. Your kit will include items like food and water, health supplies, personal care items, safety supplies, electronics, important documents, extra cash and your emergency plan.
Your emergency plan will include a family communication plan and a family disaster plan. Your disaster plan should include safe spots in your home for disasters like earthquakes, multiple meeting places, and the best escape routes from your home. You should practice your contingencies as a family.
If a family member is very young, older, or has special medical needs, your planning will need to be more extensive. You’ll also need supplies for your four-legged family members.
You can stay informed by signing up for alerts from your emergency management agency. A NOAA weather radio (battery-powered, solar, or hand-crank) can provide updates. The State of Washington’s Emergency Management Division provides information and Emergency Preparedness Essentials provides a list of local emergency management contacts.
Preparedness will differ depending on where you live, including whether you live in an urban or rural area. However, no matter where you live, and what potential disasters you face, you should always be ready. Being prepared; it’s not just for Scouts!