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Preparing for disaster

September 13, 2012
The Daily News

Disasters can happen at any time.

We can count on influenza and possible power outages due to severe weather this winter, said Kelly Rumpf, Health Educator for the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department.

In addition, there is potential for foodborne outbreaks, a hazardous materials accident, another pandemic influenza outbreak, or a wild fire during the year.

While the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is working to protect the community in the event of an emergency, health officials are urging everyone to take responsibility for the safety of their family and be prepared for all emergencies.

"In an emergency, your safety and the safety of your family may depend on decisions made in a few seconds," said Beth Tappy, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. "Be prepared - have a plan and supplies, remain calm, stay informed, and be ready to activate your disaster plans."

Here are some things that families can do to prepare for a potential disaster:

- Be proactive, not reactive. Create a family emergency plan and talk about it ahead of time. Taking action before an emergency occurs helps people deal with disasters of all sorts much more effectively when they do occur.

- Get a flu shot every year.

- If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Your family emergency plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.

- If a winter storm, power outage, or other disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for several days. You may need to survive on your own after a disaster.

- Have your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days in the event of a weather-related disaster or at least two weeks in the event of a severe influenza outbreak or prolonged emergency.

- Keep a battery operated NOAA weather radio as well as a regular radio nearby with extra batteries to stay informed.

Help vulnerable family members and/or neighbors prepare, if you are able.

Recommended Supplies to include in a Basic Kit:

- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.

- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries.

- Flashlight and extra batteries.

- First Aid kit.

- Whistle to signal for help.

- Moist towelettes for sanitation.

- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).

- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.

- Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

You must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes.

Your survival kit should include one complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:

- A jacket or coat.

- Long pants.

- A long sleeve shirt.

- Sturdy shoes.

- A hat and gloves.

- A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.

Additionally, it is recommended that area residents should prepare for possible isolation in your home.

Everyone home have sufficient heating fuel.

Regular fuel sources may be cut off.

Therefore, it is a good idea to store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Officials also recommend that individuals winterize their homes to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.

You may also consider purchasing a portable electric generator.

Used properly, they can assist survival. Used improperly they can threaten your safety.

Portable generators are not designed to be connected to your house or any building wiring. Doing so can feed power back onto the electric lines.

This is life-threatening for utility crews working to restore the power.

The only safe way to connect a generator to existing home wiring is to have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch.

A transfer switch isolates the circuits of the home from the utility system and prevents dangerous backfeed.

Transfer switches are convenient. They allow you to operate appliances you typically could not power with a portable generator, including furnaces and well pumps.

Be safe. Prepare for emergencies.



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