Go Ahead and Make Your Emergency Plan Today

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Provided by Prince William County

September is National Preparedness Month, which means it a good time to get prepared for emergencies. This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today.”

Pat Collins, the Prince William County Emergency Services Manager, said the best two things people can do to be prepared for an emergency is to make a family plan and put together a disaster supplies kit. The kit should include enough non-perishable food and enough drinking water to last for three days at a minimum. Enough water means one gallon per person per day.

“You need food that, preferably, doesn’t need to be heated up,” Collins said.

The kit should also include a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlights and extra batteries, a first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place, moist towelettes along with garbage bags and ties for personal sanitation, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, a manual can opener, local maps and a cell phone with a solar charger.

People should also remember to put food and water for their pets in the kit along with a supply of prescription medication, eyeglasses and cash or travelers checks – things which Collins said often go overlooked. “You need to think about those things. If you’re going to relocate and go somewhere, then you’re going to need to take those things with you.”

A family plan should be in place so people know where they might need to go and how they might get there, Collins said. “You need to sit down with your family and say, ‘What are we going to do if something bad happens? Where are we going to go?'”

People should also be aware of the kinds of emergencies that can happen in their area and keep abreast of what’s happening locally. One way to keep in tune is with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, tone-activated radio which can be purchased in almost any big-box store, Collins said. “Everybody’s got a smoke detector to wake you up at night if you have a fire. A tone-activated NOAA radio will wake you up in the middle of the night if you have a storm.”

There are a number of places where people can find information about disaster preparedness, Collins said. “The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has information on their website. Ready.gov is another good website. We have some information on ourwebsite, as well.”

Collins said people don’t think much about emergencies, but it pays to do so. “We have this overwhelming thought that this is never going to happen to us, but it can happen to us. And we want to make sure people are prepared before the emergency hits and it’s too late.”

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