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November 15, 2008

Citizen Preparedness

In doing some preparedness research I found this article at http://www.govtech.com/ and found it to be very useful information. It also made me even more thankful for the Kentucky Preppers Network and the work we are trying to do here. It is clear that all citizens need to be preapred.

Citizen Preparedness

Aug 15, 2008, By Paul France

Emergencies and their aftermath have been a part of civilization since time began.

Emergencies -- including natural and man-made disasters -- by their nature, cannot be predicted precisely in their timing, effects or intensity. However, human societies have always practiced emergency management. Such activities have evolved from simple precautions and scattered procedures into more sophisticated management systems that include preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery strategies.

In the 20th century, countries have used technologies like sirens, radio, television and the Internet to deliver warnings and real-time information to citizens. Over the past few years, other technologies such as mobile phone messaging systems have been exploited to complement traditional emergency systems. Many people are aware of this newer emerging technology, which can bring a false sense of security to those who find themselves in the middle of an emergency or critical incident.

When disaster strikes, citizens may be caught unprepared for the variety of questions that arise about how to protect themselves, their families and their property. Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects; people are seriously injured, some are killed and property damage runs into the billions of dollars. If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations try to help you, but you need to be ready as well. Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.

Being prepared and understanding what to do can reduce fear, anxiety and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families and individuals should know what to do in a disaster and where to seek shelter if necessary. They should be ready to evacuate their homes, take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.

Everyone should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area. You should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. This may mean providing your own shelter, first aid, food, water and sanitation. It is time for all of us to take personal responsibility for our own safety and well-being. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and additional first responder agencies exist to protect and keep us safe, but in a critical incident, it takes time to mobilize resources. It may be several hours before any first responder arrives to provide emergency assistance to anyone in a large incident.

What Should You Do?

First, ask your local emergency management office which disasters could strike your community. They will know your community's risks. You may be aware of some of them, but others may surprise you. Also ask for any information that might help you prepare and possibly reduce the risks you face. First and foremost, everyone should have a family emergency plan. There are many templates available such as the Ready Family Emergency Plan.

The most important component of a family emergency plan is communications and sharing that plan with family members. If you have a disability or special need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your household in an emergency. You may need to survive on your own for three days or more. This means having your own water, food and emergency supplies. Try using backpacks or duffel bags to keep the supplies together. Assembling the supplies you might need following a disaster is an important part of your disaster plan.

Disaster situations can be intense, stressful and confusing. If an evacuation is necessary, local authorities will do their best to notify the public, but you cannot depend entirely on this means of communication. Often, a disaster can strike with little or no warning, providing local authorities very little time to issue an evacuation order. Also, you may not hear of an evacuation order due to communications or power failure. A very important source of information and a valuable tool for your safety is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio. Everyone should have a battery back-up weather radio for alerts and important information in an emergency.

It is time for all of us to take personal responsibility for ourselves as individuals, as families and as communities. You need to be prepared and should know how to respond to severe weather or any disaster that could occur in your area: hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme cold, tornadoes or flooding. For more information on emergency planning and how to be better prepared, please visit the ready.gov Web site.

Paul France is a graduate of the Homeland Security master's degree program at the Naval Postgraduate School. The Naval Postgraduate School's Center for Homeland Defense and Security has been a premier provider of homeland security graduate and executive level education since 2002. France has more than 17 years experience within the public safety sector, with an extensive background in law enforcement and preparedness.

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