National Preparedness Month presents planning opportunity

While September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, local experts say there is no bad time to get and stayed prepared.

While September may be Emergency Preparedness Month, every day is a good day to prepare for possible emergencies, states experts with Clay County Emergency Management.

Remember there’s no perfect plan or kit, said Melissa Evans, director of Clay County Emergency Management.

“It’s important to create a plan that’s specific to the individual, families and pets. Discuss what being prepared means to each person. Basic ideas like emergency contact phone numbers in backpacks; what is the phone number and name of doctor, dentist and vet,” she said.

An emergency or disaster doesn’t wait until a person can afford to face it, said Evans.

It’s important to start thinking of ways to #BePrepared, states a release. To help be prepared, people should register for weather alerts on their phones or web-capable devices.

“Review your important documents and make sure things are up-to-date,” states the release.

“You and your family’s emotional preparedness are just as important as gathering items for an emergency supply kit or practicing emergency evacuations. Disasters can stir up many different feelings and thoughts and prior planning can help alleviate some of that stress and anxiety. It is a good idea to talk with your family about the type of emergencies you could face,” said Evans.

Liberty Fire Marshal Dustin Paddack offered three top tips to help keep families safe.

First, pack that emergency preparedness kit.

“Store supplies in a large, waterproof container near a door or in your garage so you can grab it and find shelter quickly.

“Ready.gov recommends you have at least three days’ worth of food, water and medications on hand,” he said.

Second, create and practice a disaster plan, he said.

“Your family needs a clearly outlined plan to follow that helps keep everyone safe during a natural disaster or an evacuation,” he said.

According to Ready.gov, the four primary factors that a plan should account for include: where to shelter, a route for evacuation, getting emergency alerts and warnings and family communication.

Third, listen to local officials, Paddack said.

Local governments have systems in place to help area residents learn about impending or occurring disasters. The timely information these entities provide can help families understand what threats are present and know when it’s necessary to evacuate, he explained.

In addition, tune into NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts weather-hazard information and safety alerts 24/7.

“Remember that the groups that provide these messages are experts. Respect their warnings, and follow their guidance as closely as possible for your own safety,” said the fire marshal.

In October, Missouri’s statewide ShakeOut earthquake drill is set for Oct. 21.

The drill is designed to remind people how to protect themselves during an earthquake. Missouri is one of 14 participating central U.S. states that could be impacted by a New Madrid Seismic Zone earthquake.

“The devastating Haiti earthquake that left more than 50,000 homeless last month is a reminder of the destructive force of catastrophic earthquakes and that quakes strike without warning,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Remillard said in a press release. “Preparedness prior to an earthquake of any size is critical to staying safe. Participating in the ShakeOut drill and practicing now prepares children and adults alike for what to do when shaking starts.”

During the drill at 10:21 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, Missourians are encouraged to practice the “Drop, Cover, Hold On” technique:

• Drop to your hands and knees;

• cover your head and neck with your hands and arms under a table or desk if you can; and

• hold on until the shaking stops.

Experts advise that when an earthquake occurs in the U.S., the “Drop, Cover and Hold On” technique is the best way to protect yourself and others from falling debris.

To sign up for the ShakeOut drill, visit {a href=”http://shakeout.org/centralus” target=”_blank”}shakeout.org/centralus. Anyone can register. Once registered, participants receive regular updates on the drill as well as information on earthquake preparedness and safety.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone, centered in southeast Missouri, is one of the most active earthquake zones in the country, averaging more than 200 small quakes per year. In 1811 and 1812, this zone produced some of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history.

To learn more about earthquakes in Missouri and how to prepare, visit {a href=”http://sema.dps.mo.gov/earthquake_preparedness” target=”_blank”}sema.dps.mo.gov/earthquake_preparedness.

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