Monday, September 14, 2015

Getting and Staying Prepared for an Emergency

September is National Preparedness Month and Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) urges families to make this month a time to get prepared for any multitude of disasters that may impact occur. From natural disasters like fires and floods, to influenza season or a bioterrorism event, it is never too early to begin preparing for emergencies—even those that are not likely to occur! Plan how to stay safe and communicate during the disasters that can affect your community.

In an effort to increase awareness on a range of different emergencies, National Preparedness Month features a different type of emergency each week.

Week 1:  September 1-5th            Flood
Week 2:  September 6-12th          Wildfire
Week 3:  September 13-19th        Hurricane
Week 4:  September 20-26th        Power Outage

Be Prepared
Anyone can be impacted by an emergency such as a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or disease outbreak, for example. You can take steps now to help you prepare for an emergency and cope if an emergency happens.

1. Get a Kit
If a disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. It’s important to maintain an emergency kit with enough supplies for at least 72-hours. It is important to consider your family’s unique needs, like medications or food for your pets.

2. Make a Plan
Families can cope with disasters by preparing in advance and working together as a team. If an emergency were to occur, it is imperative to know how family members will contact each other, where members would go to stay safe, and what to do in general during any different variation of an emergency.  Planning what to do before a disaster strikes provides the best protection.

3. Stay Informed
It is important to understand what emergencies are likely to occur in your area and specific ways to respond to each one. You should also understand the ways you can get information about potential threats, such as through text alerts, emergency sirens in your community, or other methods.

4. Get Involved
The best way to ensure your family and your community are prepared in the case of an emergency is to get involved. Find opportunities to support your community’s preparedness so that everyone can stay safe when the unexpected occurs.
Stay Safe
Emergencies can be both stressful and dangerous, and they can expose us to dangerous situations.  It is important to remember that there are things you can do to keep yourself safe during an emergency.
Emergencies can expose us to dangerous situations where we could be injured. It’s important to use caution at all times, and learn basic first aid skills before an emergency. Stressful situations may trigger a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event in some individuals. The most important thing you can do during an emergency is to be able to recognize the signs of a cardiovascular event and act immediately by calling 9-1-1.

It’s important to keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40°F and frozen food at or below 0°F. This may be difficult when the power is out. A refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. When in doubt, throw it out – just be sure to throw it out somewhere safe so it doesn’t attract wildlife.
Be Healthy
Emergencies will impact everyone differently. However, some people with chronic medical conditions may be more vulnerable during an emergency. There are a few simple yet powerful things all of us can do to improve our health:

       Exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes a week, and live an active lifestyle as much as possible.
       Eat healthy by following the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines.
       Avoid tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. These substances can weaken an immune system and cause a person to become ill, as well as cause many other chronic diseases.
       Get a flu shot every year.

Please visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website for tools to help.  The Jefferson County Public Health Emergency Preparedness team works to serve the public health needs of the community before, during and after an event.  To learn more, visit our Emergency Preparedness webpage.

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