Public Reminded To Be Ready, Be Prepared In 2008

Armen Hareyan's picture

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) encourages DallasCounty residents to start the New Year prepared and ready foremergences. DCHHS continues to plan and drill to ensure its capacity torespond to any public health emergency. The agency also offers citizenssuggestions on what each household and business can do now to preparefor public health emergencies.

"We want the citizens of Dallas County to know that Dallas CountyHealth and Human Services is at the forefront of nationwide publichealth preparedness efforts," said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS Director."We continually work to address the health challenges ahead to ensurethe health and safety of all residents in the event of any natural ormanmade disaster," Thompson stated.

So what can the public do now to make sure they are ready? First, DCHHSencourages everyone to follow good health habits to help prevent thespread of the flu and other diseases and to teach these habits to theirchildren. "These are simple, yet effective methods, that we need tomake routine: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay homeor avoid close contact with others when you are sick. Cover your mouthand nose or cough into bend of your arm. Wash your hands with soap andwater or alcoholbased hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose ormouth," said Thompson.


The second thing DCHHS urges is for everyone to take personalresponsibility in developing a preparedness plan for their homes. DCHHShas published a Personal Preparedness Guide to help households andbusinesses prepare for emergencies. "The critical aspect of survivingany emergency is proper advance planning," Thompson continued. "When itcomes to emergencies and personal preparedness, it's not a matter of ifsomething will happen, it's a matter of when," Thompson said. "In thetwo and a half years since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated theGulf Coasts, the one truth that still resonates the loudest is that thepeople who successfully survived were those who planned ahead to ensurethe safety of themselves and their family."

In some emergencies, you may be asked to shelter at home for anextended period of time. There are eight basics you should stock inyour home to be prepared: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing,bedding, tools, emergency supplies, and special need items. DCHHSrecommends that you keep a two week supply of these items, update yourstockpile every six months, and rethink your family needs once a year.

In other instances, you may be directed to leave your home. DCHHSrecommends that each household have a Go Kit ready for emergencyevacuations. Store your kit in a convenient place known to all familymembers. The Go Kit should be an easytocarry, waterproof and fireproofcontainer that includes items that you would most likely need during anemergency. These items should include birth and death certificates,insurance papers, bank records, car titles, deeds, mortgage and loaninformation, immunization records, military discharge, wills, livingwills, powers of attorney, divorce decrees and custody orders. You mayalso consider including any items, such as family photos, that cannotbe 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 orseparated. Identify an outoftown contact and make sure everyone has theinformation. Plan to leave early to ensure family can travel together.If you have small children, consider writing the child's name, parent'sname and address, a cell phone number, the phone number of the next ofkin not in the area, and any medical condition on the child's back.Should you become separated, this will assist with reconnecting thefamily.