Amber Alert

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster preparedness means being prepared for an emergency of any kind, natural or man-made, and being prepared means having emergency kits on hand, ready to use when they're needed. It's important to prepare in advance for threats to public health such as pandemics of infections disease like the 2009 "swine flu" pandemic.

A pandemic is defined as epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics exclude seasonal flu. Throughout history there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. More recent pandemics include the HIV pandemic and the 2009 flu pandemic.

Having emergency kits stocked with enough food for two weeks can limit exposure. Fewer trips out into public could literally spare you and your loved ones from being infected. Emergency kits could provide food for you and your family until things return to a "safe" and normal state, and should be a part of your own pandemic preparedness plan.

Follow these basic steps to develop your family disaster preparedness plan:

1.Gather information about hazards in your area. Find out what types of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn your community's warning signals and evacuation plans.

2.Meet with your family to create a disaster preparedness plan and make sure it includes emergency kits for the whole family. Discuss the information you've gathered. Choose a place outside your home to meet in the event of an emergency, such as a fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Choose a friend or relative who lives out-of-state as your "family check-in contact."

3.Implement your disaster preparedness plan:
•Post emergency telephone numbers by phones.
•Inspect your home for potential hazards, such as items that can move, fall, break, or catch fire, and correct them.
•Install safety features such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and instruct others how to use them properly.
•Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local emergency medical services number.
•Keep emergency kits in your home with enough supplies for each member of your family for two weeks.
•Keep a disaster preparedness response kit with items you may need in case of evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks or duffle bags.
•Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.
•Keep a smaller disaster preparedness emergency kit in the trunk of your car.

4.Practice and maintain your plan:
•Ask questions to make sure your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules.
•Make sure everyone knows where to find your family's emergency kits.
•Test your smoke detectors monthly.
•Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's recommendations.
•Replace spare batteries as required.
•Conduct periodic drills to make sure you are prepared in case of an actual emergency.

Don't wait — make and put your disaster preparedness plan into effect before disaster strikes.

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