Getting ready for the worst during National Preparedness Month

Another year has brought a host of new disasters in the United States, from the devastating fires across California and other western states to torrential rains triggering recent flooding in Wisconsin and, yes, parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Father’s Day weekend in June.

It again highlights the need to have plans for when extreme circumstances dictate making a sudden change in your life.

Each year during September, Michigan Prepares joins national, regional, and local governments, as well as private and public organizations in National Preparedness Month.

This year, the theme is “Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.”

“In an emergency, your safety and the safety of your family may depend on decisions made in a few seconds,” said Jessica Perry, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department. “Be prepared — have a plan and supplies, remain calm, stay informed, and be ready to activate your emergency plans.”

Whether dealing with the possible threats of flooding, wildfires, power outages or other disasters, the preparedness steps are the same. They include:

— Knowing the risks where you live;

— Having an individual and family emergency plan in place;

— Practicing that plan;

— Putting together an emergency kit with water and non-perishable supplies to last for at least three days for you, your family and your pets;

— Ensuring the home contact list is up-to-date for people you may need to reach out to during a disaster; and

— Establishing alternative methods of communication in case traditional means are not available.

Area residents are encouraged to participate in National Preparedness Month by doing a simple, specific action or activity to improve that preparedness. Go to www.ready.gov or http://do1thing.com/ for more information on how to be prepared. It has tools to build a kit, make a plan, stage home emergency preparedness drills, as well as how to get involved in the community plans.

Michigan State Police/Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division also is joining federal, state and local governments, as well as private and public organizations, in supporting emergency preparedness initiatives.

“During the first few hours or days after a disaster, essential services may not be available. So, people should have a plan and be ready to act on their own. That’s why we are encouraging every household to create an emergency kit and learn basic first aid skills,” said Capt. Emmitt McGowan, deputy state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “It is essential for individuals and families to plan ahead, so they are better equipped to react when an emergency or disaster strikes. Take action and prepare now.”

To learn more on how to prepare locally or schedule a preparedness presentation at businesses, schools, churches or groups, call Perry at the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department at 906-265-4156.

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