This weekend, when we turn back our clocks at the end of Daylight Saving Time, most Americans will look forward to an extra hour of sleep to make up for the hour they lost in the spring. This is also a great time to think about being prepared for emergencies.
The one thing that is common to all emergencies – large and small – is their unpredictability. Local area emergency management officials say that’s why individual preparation is the key to protecting yourself from such things as a flash flood to a power outage to a tornado.
Wayne Cain, Jackson County Emergency Management Director, said, ” It will be getting dark earlier and children may be playing later after school. Sunset will now be at 5:35 p.m., and the kids may be playing outdoors with less light.”
Lloyd Colston, Altus Emergency Management Director, said, “There are many steps individuals and families can take to prepare themselves and their homes for the affects of an unforeseen situation, and most of them can be done in a matter of minutes.”
For instance, check and change the batteries in your smoke alarms and weather radios. Replace all alarms that are more than 10 years old; Make sure you know where your local fire department, police station, and hospital are and post a list of emergency phone numbers posted near all the telephones in your home; Organize and practice a family fire drill; Fill out a Home Security Inspection Checklist and a personal Property Checklist (both available at http://www.usaonwatch.org) to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered; Locate the utility mains for your home and be sure you know how to turn them off manually: gas, electricity, and water; Call 800-BE-READY to get a copy of “Are You Ready”, “Your Family Disaster Plan”, “Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit” and other preparedness publications to make America a nation prepared; Create an emergency plan for your household, including your pets. Decide where your family will meet if a disaster does happen: 1) right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire and 2) outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home – ask an out of town friend to be your “family contact” to relay messages; Prepare a 72-hour disaster supply kit, complete with flashlights, batteries, blankets, and an emergency supply of water, food, and pet food and supplies; Plan to hold a Neighborhood Watch meeting. Your local Sheriff or Police Department office can help you get started or visit www.usaonwatch.org for more information; Plan to sign up for a first aid training course. Call your local American Red Cross chapter or National Safety Council to ask about courses in your area (http://www.redcross.org or http://www.nsc.org); Visit with your neighbors and discuss how you would handle a disaster in your area. Talk to neighbors with special needs and help them become safer too!
Most of these ideas can be accomplished in a few minutes, but the dividends they could pay during an emergency situation
are enormous. This weekend, you’ll have the extra time, and by tackling just one of the projects listed above, you can make yourself and your family safer and better prepared for whatever the next year throws at you.
For more information regarding Emergency Management, contact Jackson County Emergency Management Director Wayne Cain at 580-482-0229 or City of Altus Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston at 580-481-2260.
Lloyd Colston is the Emergency Management Director for the City of Altus.