WEEKLY WELLNESS ARTICLES

"First 72 Are on You!”

 

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) has launched the "First 72 On You” information campaign to increase emergency preparedness efforts for Kentuckians and their families during the month of September, which has been designated National Preparedness Month by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Though some disasters, like Hurricane Dorian, come with several days of warning, others strike with little or no warning, such as tornados, house fires, or industrial chemical spills.  In the aftermath of such, families or communities may be left without safety, security, food or shelter.  

And though we have excellent first responders, they along with the local utility companies are likely to be overwhelmed with numerous calls and insufficient personnel and resources during these events.

So KDPH is urging everyone to implement plans for being self-sufficient for at least three days (72 hours) since that is the time frame after a disaster that is critical for survival.  Families need to take action and prepare today.

Preparing for emergencies and disasters can start with four important steps:  Be ready with an emergency supply kit.  Develop a Family Emergency Plan.  Be Informed.  Get involved.

Be ready with an emergency supply kit – An emergency supply kit should contain essential items to keep you and your family self-reliant for at least 72 hours without utilities, electricity and water, or without access to a supermarket or local services.  These items should include:

·         Water (at least one gallon per person per day)

·         Food, non-perishable, along with a manual can opener

·         First aid kit

·         Weather radio

·         Flashlight, with extra batteries

·         Prescription medicine, and/or medical supplies, enough for 72 hours, including an extra pair of glasses

·         Miscellaneous items, including complete change of clothes, sturdy shoes, blankets, and extra cash

·         If applicable, special baby necessities, including formula, baby food, diapers, and wipes

·         Cell phone, with portable charger, already charged,

·         Pet/service animal food and supplies

·         Personal hygiene items, including toilet paper, and a 5-gallon plastic bucket with a tight lid

·         Certain tools and supplies, including an adjustable wrench to turn off gas and/or water, matches (in water-proof container), plastic sheeting, duct tape, whistle, disposable plates, cups and utensils

·         Important family documents, including emergency contacts and insurance information

·         Entertainment supplies, such as cards, games, books, and magazines

A detailed list of items to be included in the kit can be found at https://www.ready.gov/kit. Though these can be stored in boxes or plastic totes, be sure to rotate supplies in and out so they do not exceed their expiration dates.

Develop a family emergency plan - Families may not be together when an emergency happens, so a plan is needed to allow them to

·         determine a meeting place,

·         establish an out-of-town contact and

·         gather essential information that would help them to stay connected in the event of an emergency.

Practice your plan with regular drills and know your local evacuation routes.  If a family member has a disability, contact your local fire department and/or police station now to inform them so that this information could be kept by these agencies in case of an emergency or disaster.  For those that may be blind or visually impaired, predesignate someone to assist them in an emergency and have a plan in place if evacuation becomes necessary because public transportation may not be available.  

Recent advancements in technology, make it easy now to provide emergency responders with special health and medical needs of family members prior to any emergency by means of a "Smart 9-1-1” app. More information about the advantages of this app can be accessed by going online to the following link: http://www.winchesterky.com/index.aspx?NID=1006.

For more information on writing a family plan, visit https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

Be informed - Learn about emergencies that could happen in our area and identify sources of information in our community that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency.  Also, find out what emergency plans are in place for the schools and work places of your family members.

Get involved – Because preparedness is a shared responsibility, it takes a whole community, including volunteers along with professional responders, to prepare and respond to emergencies.  There are many ways to be involved by volunteering, and many groups with which to become involved including the American Red Cross, Clark Regional Medical Center Auxiliary, Clark County Community Services, and the Clark County Medical Reserve Corps, to mention a few.

The local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) unit, which is sponsored by the Clark County Health Department (CCHD), is made up of individuals with both, medical and nonmedical, training.  These volunteers contribute their time, skills and expertise throughout the year to assist with promoting public health initiatives, as well as preparing to respond in times of community need, such as disasters or disease outbreaks.

Through volunteering, being informed, establishing a family emergency plan, and creating an emergency supply kit we can reduce our dependency upon overextended outside resources and ensure our capability to survive the "First 72” hours of an unexpected disaster.

If you have any questions regarding this information, you may contact Jim Cowan, CCHD Preparedness Coordinator, at jamesm.cowan@ky.gov.  And anyone who might be interested in joining the local MRC unit is encouraged to register online at ky.readyop.com/contact/register/71.