Prepare in a Year: Disaster Planning Broken Down in Easy Monthly Tasks

“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 the community to “Prepare in a Year”. As with any goal, preparing for a disaster can seem like a monumental task. This series was created 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

The task for the month of January is to create your emergency action plan. What is the importance of having a plan? Developing and practicing an emergency action plan can save countless lives throughout the community during an emergency or disaster.

STAY INFORMED: The first step in developing your emergency action plan is to become aware of what potential emergency or disasters can occur in your area, such as earthquakes, power outages, train derailments and volcanoes. One way to stay informed is to sign up for Pierce County Alert. This is a free service which sends notifications about emergencies occurring in your area and other important community news. Alerts include information on severe weather, flooding, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuations of buildings or neighborhoods. You can receive these alerts in the manner most convenient for you, whether that be at your home, business, via text messages or email, or all of the above. This tool will help keep you informed with vetted and reliable information in addition to any information you hear on the radio, television or social media. You can sign up for Pierce County Alerts here.

FOCUS ON FAMILY: The second step in developing your emergency action plan is to determine the specific needs of those in your household. This will enable you to prepare and accommodate for any special needs that are required. These needs may include having enough diapers and formula available for infants, or having food, leashes, kennels for pets, and any necessary accommodations for disabled family members or those who require specific medications or medical care.

DEVELOP YOUR PLAN: Now that you have collected this information, you are ready to develop your emergency action plan. Review the layout of your house and determine two ways to exit each room in the event of an emergency. You will also need to pick two meeting locations outside of your home. The first location should be close to your house, such as by the mailbox or the large tree across the street. The second location should be outside of your neighborhood in case it is not safe to be near your home.

Making a phone call to local friends and loved ones may not be possible after a disaster. Plan to communicate with others by text messages or social media. Having an out-of-area contact is also crucial and will be the focus of next month. Be sure to develop and practice your plan with each member of your household. Knowledge and practice helps muscle memory engage during an emergency or disaster when denial, panic or paralysis can set in.

So far, no money has been spent on this 2018 “Prepare in a Year” resolution. In February, the focus will be on designating an out-of-area contact.

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