“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
― Benjamin Franklin

2017 was a year where many dealt with major disasters and their aftermath. From Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to the recent train derailment in our own backyard, the importance of being able to sustain oneself after a major disaster is essential.

West Pierce CERT’s resolution for the New Year is to help you “Prepare in a Year”. As with any goal, preparing for a disaster can seem like a monumental task. West Pierce Fire & Rescue is here to guide you in completing this important task. The goal is for this to be easy and as inexpensive as possible. Each month will focus on one aspect of disaster preparedness and assist you in one hour of a disaster preparedness activity.

January: Make a Plan

February: Identify an Out-of-Area contact

When disaster strikes, you may be at home, work, school or on the road and not with all the members of your household. Your first thoughts, though, will be with your loved ones and their well-being. After a disaster, local phone lines may not work due to the number of people trying to make local calls or the number of phones knocked off the hook which can affect local phone service. The importance of texting and the use of social media was discussed in January’s post, as well as the crucial need to have an out-of-area contact.

An out-of-area contact is someone who lives at least 100 miles away from you, as long distance phone calls are more likely to go through. This person will be the one who all family members contact to inform of their location and how they are doing. This limits the potential of having several people trying to make several phone calls that are unlikely to go through.

Make sure that your out-of-area contact knows you have designated them with this task and that all the other members of your family know how to contact them. Let your out-of-area contact also know the name of all the people you want contacted and informed of your situation. Practice is important! Conduct a communication drill to ensure your plan and all methods of communication are working.

Information that your out-of-area contact should collect:

·       Who called

·       The time they called

·       Their current status. If they are injured, how are they injury?

·       Their current location and if they intend on relocating

·       When will they call back again to provide an update if needed

Put your out-of-area contact on a card that each member of your household carries at all times in their purse, wallet or backpack. This eliminates the need to remember this information at a time when millions of other things will be running through your mind.

The total cost in our 2018 resolution to “Prepare in a Year” is still at zero. Next month the focus will be on water. Two-liter, screw top plastic bottles work well for storing water, so if you already purchase beverages in these containers, keep them handy for your hour of disaster preparedness activity in March!

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