The fundamental idea of emergency preparedness rests on three legs of a stool: make a plan, get supplies, and be informed. Let’s start with the last step. As part of this series, we shared with you how to get in the loop on being informed.
Be informed: Locally, Code Red is the system used to inform everyone of emergencies. Go to Lincoln County’s website www.lcwy.org/. The CodeRED tab is on the left side, easily visible. Click on it. Follow the cues and sign up. It will take you about 5 minutes.
The next thing to know is if things go sideways in an emergency, Code Red will inform you initially, but there are other sources of information you can access––assuming internet connectivity remains intact. Stephen Malik, of Lincoln County Homeland Security Department, recommends using these Facebook sources locally as an ongoing way to get information. (You can check the websites of these departments, but they will just have a banner telling you to go to these sources for updates.) So I recommend you bookmark these pages and follow them to stay connected for ongoing emergency information.
Make a plan: Some of the most important elements of your safety plan should consider potential local hazards. The ones that stand out the most to me are forest fires and earthquakes. Flooding could be possible if you live near a stream or river here in the valley.
Each of us will have a very individual or family plan to address the basics of sustaining life (such as food, water, and shelter) and then any other needs that are specific to your circumstances.
Additional things we’ve discussed in this series to consider would include how you communicate with family members in case of separation, having an out-of-state point of contact, and planning for any individual medical needs. Rather than trying to create an alternative plan for each type of hazard, base your plans on what needs you will have, and resources that can help you meet those needs. This needs-based approach will apply to a wide range of hazards. Ensure that everyone in your household or business is familiar with the plan and then practice to evaluate if changes need to be made.
Gather Supplies: Ready.gov has an admirable list of basics and other additional items to consider in your kit. You can find it at https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/ready_checklist.pdf. As I looked at it, some items didn’t apply, but I won’t include those for my kit.
They list these items: water and non-perishable food for several days, extra cell phone battery or charger, battery-powered or hand-crank radio to receive NOAA Weather Radio tone alerts/extra batteries, flashlight/extra batteries, first aid kit, whistle to signal for help, dust mask, to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place, moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, non-sparking wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, can opener (if kit contains canned food), local maps.
Emergency preparedness experts recommend you make a goal to be prepared for 3 days at first (72-hour kit) for each individual, and once you’ve done that, then work towards a week, then two weeks, and so forth.
One issue I have with the kit is rotating the supplies. Water has a fairly short shelf life, even if it’s bottled. Again, the pros recommend you check and rotate your supplies regularly throughout the year and to get perishable items get used and replaced before expiration. Make sure that food items that you store are things that your family will eat, and that you know how to prepare them even when there may be loss of power or other challenges.
Special thanks to Stephen Malik and Lincoln County Homeland Security for their help and advice on the Preparedness Procrastinators series. They’re the good guys!