Best Time to Prepare for an Emergency? Now!

femanpm2016_logoSeptember is designated as National Preparedness Month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness and encourage planning for an emergency – any kind of emergency.

At Swope Health Services, emergency planning is part of the everyday job for Don Rau, Manager of Facilities.

“It’s important to plan ahead so you don’t have to think too much when an emergency gets here,” said Don. “In my career and military experience, it’s practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature.”

Emergency procedures at SHS address how to handle power failures, disruption of water service, tornado strikes, winter storms, and fires, just to name a few. SHS uses a code system to train associates to respond to scenarios like a bomb or gun threat, infectious disease threat or hazardous material spill.

Planning includes conducting drills and then assessing how well everyone responded. After an actual emergency, there’s also a de-briefing meeting where the responsible team examines what went right, wrong, and what could be done differently, Don said. Then the emergency plan – a 40-plus page document – is then updated with the new process.

Each one of us can apply this same kind of thinking, Don said.

“Every individual is responsible for their own safety,” he said. “The more you think about it in advance, the better off you will be when something unexpected happens.”

Here’s some steps you can take:

  • Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 and explain a problem. School-age children and teen-agers should know basic information about how to reach members of the family, knowing, for example, where Mom and Dad work or how to reach a relative.
  • For a fire or an emergency that requires getting out of the house, you can assign a spot for the family to meet – maybe at a neighbor’s house. Work out the fastest ways out of the house, and consider having a rope ladder to get out from the second story. Be sure to test your smoke detectors and change batteries twice a year, Don added.
  • To plan for a situation that requires quick action, help members of your family think about what to grab and what to leave. Keep a backpack loaded with a first aid kit, flashlight, batteries. Have a supply of water on hand, plus food. Blankets and camping materials can be useful, too.

The idea is to make a plan now, so everyone in your family can be as prepared as possible, Don said. He recommends checking the Department of Homeland Security, which has a wealth of information about different kinds of risks – from fires to floods, chemical dangers to earthquakes.

Resources for YOUR Plan:

SHS is a resource for the community, providing health care services, behavioral health services, and connections to many other support resources. Call us at 816-923-5800 to make an appointment.

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