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Be Prepared For Emergencies In 2009

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

As 2008 draws to a close, people all over the world will be making their New Year’s resolutions. Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) has a resolution that should be at the top of everyone’s list - to start the New Year prepared and ready for emergencies.

“We continually work to address the health challenges ahead to ensure the health and safety of all residents in the event of any natural or manmade disaster,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS Director. “During this year’s hurricane season, Dallas County Health and Human Services, the MRC, Wal-Mart, Red Cross, City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management, local municipalities, and our medical partners stepped up to ensure the health, safety and well being of those evacuated during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike by not only providing emergency shelters, but by monitoring for disease outbreaks and providing clinical and pharmaceutical care for those in need. As always, the response was amazing, providing not just adequate, but exemplary service to our displaced guests. The back-to-back hurricane response provided by DCHHS and our partners, clearly demonstrates that Dallas County is prepared to respond to any disaster situation that may arise."

While DCHHS continues to demonstrate its readiness to respond to emergency situations, officials encourage the public to make sure every household and business in Dallas County is equally prepared. So what can the public do now to make sure they are ready? DCHHS urges everyone to develop a preparedness plan for their homes, schools and places of work. DCHHS has published a Personal Preparedness Guide to help households and businesses prepare for emergencies.

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“The critical aspect of surviving any emergency is proper advance planning,” Thompson continued. “When it comes to emergencies and personal preparedness, it’s not a matter of if something will happen, it’s a matter of when,” Thompson said. “Three years ago we witnessed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastate the Gulf Coasts. This year, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike destroyed entire communities on the Texas Gulf Coast,” Thompson continued. “The one truth that resonates loudest in these horrible situations is those who survived were those who planned ahead to ensure the safety of themselves and their family.”

In some emergencies, you may be asked to shelter at home for an extended period of time. There are eight basics you should stock in your home to be prepared: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools, emergency supplies, and special need items. DCHHS recommends that you keep a two week supply of these items, update your stockpile every six months, and re-think your family needs once a year.

In other instances, you may be directed to leave your home. DCHHS recommends that each household have a Go Kit ready for emergency evacuations. Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. The Go Kit should be an easy-to-carry, waterproof and fireproof container which includes items that you would most likely need during an emergency. These items should include birth and death certificates, insurance papers, bank records, car titles, deeds, mortgage and loan information, immunization records, military discharge, wills, living wills, powers of attorney, divorce decrees, and custody orders. You may also consider including any items such as family photos, which cannot be replaced.

Plan ahead and know where you’re going in advance, and share this information with family and friends. Identify a mutual meeting place should someone become lost or separated. Identify an out-of-town contact and make sure everyone has the information. Plan to leave early to ensure family can travel together. If you have small children, consider writing the child’s name, parent’s name and address, a cell phone number, the phone number of the next of kin not in the area, and any medical condition on the child’s back. Should you become separated, this will assist with reconnecting the family.