Did you know? Each year, Americans cope with an average of 100,000 thunderstorms, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods or flash floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and 2 landfalling deadly hurricanes. On top of that we have winter storms, intense summer heat, high winds, wild fires, earthquakes and other natural threats.
“This year, we’ve had plenty of our own emergency events right here in south central Nebraska,” said Jim Morgan, public health risk coordinator for South Heartland District Health Department, which serves Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. “We want to encourage everyone to prepare so that none of us feel helpless in the face of an emergency,” he said.
This year’s National Preparedness Month theme is Resolve to be Ready, which is focused on Seasonal Preparedness. The Ready campaign encourages families to prepare throughout the year for all weather hazards during winter, spring, fall and summer.
Morgan suggests that we can be ready by knowing our risks, taking action and being an example in our communities. “Help your family, your worksite, your school, your place of worship, and your community be ready with these simple steps: 1) Be Informed, 2) Make a Plan, 3) Get Involved.”
First: Know Your Risk. Emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time. It is important to understand potential risks where you live.
What you can do:
- Bookmark weather.gov to stay informed on severe weather.
- Learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts, messages that will be sent to your phone during an emergency.
- Get practical tips on preparing for disaster at ready.gov.
Second: Take Action. Make sure that you and your family are prepared for an emergency. Ensure that you can go for at least three days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, or other local services.
What you can do:
- Prepare a disaster supply kit with at least three days of food and water.
- Create a Family Emergency Plan, so that your family knows how to communicate during an emergency.
- Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio.
- Use the FEMA website Ready.gov to find detailed information on what may be most important to you and your family, whether that includes specific disaster planning needs for people with disabilities, seniors, children, businesses, or pets.
Third: Be an Example. Be a positive influence on your community by sharing your preparedness story. Let your friends and family know that you’re prepared for an emergency – and that they should be prepared too. Research has shown that many people won’t prepare until they see others doing so.
What you can do:
- Share your preparedness story on Facebook so that friends and family will know what you’ll do in case of disaster.
- Participate and be counted in America’s PrepareAthon! which culminates onSeptember 30 (www.community.fema.gov)
- Get involved with your local American Red Cross Chapter, train with a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), or become a disaster psychological first aid volunteer with your local health department.
Our local emergency managers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMT/paramedics, and other emergency responders do an incredible job of keeping us safe, but they cannot do it alone. By being prepared ourselves, we help our community’s overall ability to respond and recover.
Contact South Heartland District Health Department for more information about becoming a volunteer, training in Psychological First Aid or other response skills, and preparing yourself, your family, your business and your community to be ready in case of any emergency or disaster event. For more weather and disaster event statistics, check out preventionweb.net and nws.noaa.gov.
Michele M. Bever, PhD, MPH
South Heartland District Health Department
606 N. Minnesota Ave, Suite 2
Hastings, NE 68901