September is National Preparedness Month. According to Stephen Malik, public information officer for Lincoln County Emergency Management, September is a great time to take stock of your families preparedness level.
“September marks a great time to evaluate our level of preparedness and resilience to unexpected emergencies or disasters,” Malik said. “We have seen the effects of disasters all around us, as wildfires have caused evacuations and loss of homes in nearby areas in our region. Seismic activity is constant throughout the area, and winter storms aren’t far off. Disasters can strike at any time, and often without much time to react.”
“First responders will do all they can to respond to emergencies, but resources are limited, and demand for services can easily become overwhelming in the aftermath of a large-scale event,” Malik continued. “You will likely have to help yourself and potentially other family members or neighbors during the initial hours or days of a disaster.”
According to Malik, there are a number of things area families can do to be prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster situation.
Lincoln County Emergency Management offered the following tips as a way of becoming more prepared.
• Make a plan:
“Planning for emergencies is a crucial first step to increasing your preparedness level,” Malik said. “The planning process allows us to be proactive instead of reactive when something happens. Even though you may not plan for every possible outcome, the information that you gather and communication with those around you during the planning process can help immensely during the disaster.”
According to Malik, it is during the planning stage where “you find out what people and resources you will have to help you through.”
“Starting your plan is as easy as having a conversation over dinner,” he said. “Plans should include, but are not limited to: Who will you contact? How will you communicate? Where should family members meet? How can you evacuate your home or community? What supplies do you need?”
• Gather emergency supplies:
“Each individual and family can have widely-varying needs day to day depending on age, medical needs, etc.,” said Malik. “You should gather enough supplies to survive on during periods of disaster, utility outages, job loss, or other possible events.”
“Start slowly, gathering critical items first, and then adding additional supplies as circumstances permit,” he explained. “Having even just a few supplies can make a difference for the better when times get tough.”
According to Malik, 72 hour kits can help “bridge the gap between the event and the arrival of additional resources.”
• Seek out training
“Attending training from reputable sources is the best way to educate yourself in how to approach prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery regarding disasters,” Malik said. “The more knowledge you have on the subject, the better your chances of making the correct decisions when life and safety are on the line.”
Lincoln County Emergency Management provides free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes.
“This course covers several facets of emergency response, including basic emergency preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, disaster psychology, and more,” Malik said. “If you have questions about where to find training, contact Lincoln County Emergency Management.”
• Keep yourself and others informed
According to Malik, being informed is key when it comes to disasters.
“Residents are encouraged to stay informed by monitoring local and regional broadcast and print media, social media, and other informative sources,” he said. “Lincoln County Emergency Management, Lincoln County Public Health, and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office each post regular information on our respective Facebook pages. Other local response agencies and government entities also have a presence on social media and websites.”
“You should know and understand the types of emergencies and disasters that can affect the areas that you live and work in, and familiarize yourself with emergency plans for those places,” he added.
• Learn about local Emergency Notification Systems
“In emergency situations, notification is critical,” Malik said. “Lincoln County currently has mass-call capability through a system called CodeRED, which allows us to notify people of urgent or emergent situations via phone, text, email, and through CodeRED app alerts. If you have a landline, your numbers are automatically added to the system once a year. If you need alerts on a cell phone, or other devices, go to our website (www.lcwy.org) and click on the “CodeRED” button to enter your cell phone or email information.”
For more information on how to be prepared in an emergency contact: Stephen Malik, Public Information Officer Lincoln County Emergency Management at firstname.lastname@example.org.