Health: Are you prepared for the worst?

By John Lile/Preparedness Coordinator, Published:

“Where were you when the lights went out?”

That common expression may be all too real for those of us who live in Franklin County and experience frequent episodes from downed limbs caused by thunderstorms, winter ice and snow. In addition to these severe weather episodes, there are other natural occurrences that may leave the power off for hours or cause damage to your home.

September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to begin your preparation for winter weather and seasonal storms. The questions to ask yourself include:

> Can I sustain myself and my family for a period of time if a power outage or storm limits our ability to function normally in our daily lives?

> Do we have the necessary provisions in our house to provide the basic necessities for at least 72 hours?

In 2009, Kentucky was hit by one of the worst ice storm experiences in years. Although Franklin County experienced some devastating results from this storm, it was far western Kentucky that was totally impacted.

In some areas, power was not restored for a period of six weeks. How would you and your family cope if you did not have power for six weeks?  Could you survive?

Most emergency management leaders estimate that it normally takes up to 72 hours for cities, counties and states to muster a full scale response to such natural disasters.

“The first 72 is on you” is a common expression used by these individuals in recognition of the time they will need to gather resources to adequately respond to a mass emergency.

This means that you should develop an emergency plan with your family and develop an emergency supply kit that will carry you through the first 72 hours. The kit should contain plenty of items to sustain your household until power can be restored and emergency resources are available in your community.

Emergency plan

Each family should have an emergency plan on how to contact each other should a disaster occur when the family is separated. All members of the family should have a contact card containing each person’s contact information to carry in a wallet, purse or backpack.

Contact information for a relative or friend living in another town or out of state is important to include so family members can be quickly notified of their loved one’s status.  

Other important tips include planning safety routes out of your home and knowing where utility shutoff valves are located; have copies of health, property and life insurance and vital records in your emergency kit.

Consider saving emergency money in a special account or having money/traveler’s checks stored in a safe place should you need money for evacuation. Evacuation is not that uncommon in both natural and manmade emergencies.

One of the best emergency strategies is to develop a disaster supply kit with sufficient quantities of food, water and supplies to last three days.  

Most, if not all, of the items needed to stock your kit can be found in your home or the local hardware or discount store. 

For more information about the contents of the kit and how to prepare for an emergency, go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website at www.ready.gov. The Franklin County Health Department is at 851 East/West Connector. 

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