It’s a situation everyone has experienced: The media and public safety agencies warn of an impending storm, chances of power outages, and loss of service weeks ahead of time. But you find yourself at the last-minute scrambling for batteries, water, and ideas to keep your family entertained. Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can.
September is National Preparedness Month. Here are seven steps you can take right now to “be prepared, not scared” the next time an emergency hits.
1. Be Informed
Sign up for emergency notifications at ArlingtonAlert.com. You can get alerts on severe weather, major road closures, and emergency incidents to your phone, email, home, or work with this free County service. Already subscribed? Log in and verify your information is up to date. And make sure you follow Ready Arlington on Twitter and Facebook.
2. Make a Plan
Discuss and practice your emergency plan with every family member—even children! Identify two meetings points for your family, one right outside your home and one in your community, such as a library, community center or place of worship. Text and use social media if you are able. Make sure your children know who is allowed to pick them up from school if there is an emergency. Establish how you will get in touch with your family if there is no phone service or Internet.
3. Build a Kit
Collect the supplies you’ll need ahead of time. Your kit should include enough water and non-perishable food per person for at least 3 days. Other items: a NOAA Weather Radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, a whistle, local maps, moist towelettes, garbage bags and ties, cash, games and kids’ activities, and copies of your insurance cards, bank accounts, ID, and other important documents. Also consider whether you’ll need medication, glasses or contacts, infant formula and diapers, or personal hygiene items.
4. Establish Communication
Make sure you have key information easily accessible, including names and phone numbers of family members, friends, places (work, school, doctors), and services (power, gas, water, cable, etc.). Create an In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact card for each family member and identify an out-of-area contact person in case local phone calls aren’t going through.
5. Plan for Evacuation
If you are told to evacuate, be prepared to do so. Staying in your home during a disaster puts you and first responders at risk. Designate a meeting spot in case you get separated from your family during evacuation. Take your emergency kit with you. If you have time, secure your home, close and lock all windows and doors, unplug appliances, and turn off utilities.
6. Prepare Your Pets
Don’t forget to make an emergency plan for your pets. Get current ID tags on your pet’s collar, make sure any microchip data is updated, and keep a recent picture with you. Create a go bag with medications, medical records, vaccination history, a leash or carrier, food and water, baggies, litter and cleaning supplies, and small toys. If you must shelter in place, plan to have a two-week supply of food and water on hand. Check to see if the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has opened its pet shelter.
7. Get Involved
Join the Community Emergency Response Team (which is also launching a teen program!) to help your community prepare for and respond to an emergency. Individuals are trained by professional responders to support Arlington emergency management and public safety agencies to assist the community before, during and after an emergency.
For more information on how to prepare for an emergency, visit www.ReadyArlington.com.