Emergency Preparedness Month Tips
September is Emergency Preparedness Month
The preparedness theme for 2017 is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”
We should all take action to prepare! Whether it’s a fire, hurricane, blizzard or water outage, emergencies can and do happen at the most inconvenient times. We can all help first responders in our community by learning how to respond during an emergency and what to do when disaster strikes – where we live, work, and visit. With a little planning and forethought, disastrous effects can often be minimized.
Each week there will be a different theme, focused on simple but important steps to help keep you and your loved ones safe during a disaster.
Week 1 (September 1-9): Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends
- Make a Family Emergency Plan.
- Sign up for alerts and warnings in your area, such as Alert Bowie 2.0.
- Have an evacuation plan.
- Check your insurance coverage and review the Document and Insure Property guide.
- Plan financially for the possibility of disaster.
Week 2 (September 10-16): Plan to Help Your Neighbor and Community
- Learn skills you need to help yourself and others until help can arrive.
- Take Until Help Arrives training.
- Get to know your neighbors, and embrace a "neighbors help neighbors" approach.
- See what BGE has to say about electricity safety.
Week 3 (September 17-23): Practice and Build Out Your Plans
- Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK).
- Maintain emergency savings for use in case of an emergency, ideally cash in small denominations.
- Regularly participate in emergency drills
- Know how to access community resources (e.g. The Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund).
Week 4 (September 24-30): Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger
- Get your campus, business, faith-based organization, or community organization prepared for an emergency.
- Know how to get in touch with family and friends if phones are down. Text instead of call.
- Mark yourself as 'safe' on social media. If you can't get in touch with family and friends after a disaster, register yourself as "Safe and Well" on the Red Cross' website.
Often the most widespread impact of extreme weather is downed trees and loss of power. Taking a few simple preparedness steps now will give you peace of mind when severe weather is in the forecast.
BEFORE a power outage:
- Charge devices that use battery power and ensure you have extra batteries for these devices;
- Identify local sources where dry or block ice can be purchased;
- Keep your car tank at least half full because gas stations rely on electricity to fuel their pumps;
- Create a disaster supply kit that includes alternative cell phone chargers, a flashlight, water & nonperishable food, a non-electric can opener, cash, and a battery or hand-crank radio.
- DURING a power outage:
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. For most standard size refrigerators and freezers, a cool temperature can be maintained for several hours. For food you need to use, plan on having a cooler with conventional or dry ice available;
- Use flashlights for emergency lighting. Never use candles due to extreme risk of fire;
- Only use a generator outside of your home and keep it away from windows and doors;
- For drugs that require refrigeration, check the manufacturer’s label or contact your doctor for guidance. Most drugs can be stored on ice for several hours; and
- Make preparations to keep refrigerated medications in a closed cooler until the power comes back on.
- Generators can be very helpful during a power outage. Before purchasing your generator, consider the following:
- Determine the amount of power you will need – How much power do you need to operate equipment and appliances connected to the generator?
- Portable generators made for household use can provide temporary power to a small number of selected appliances or lights – For example, light bulb wattage indicates the power needed for lighting. Appliance and equipment label’s indicate their power requirements. If you can’t determine the amount of power you will need, ask an electrician.
- Choose the generator’s fuel source – Back-up generators are typically powered by either diesel fuel or natural gas, and both have associated advantages and disadvantages.
- Permanently installed, stationary generators are better suited for providing backup power to the home- Portable generators present a greater risk of becoming overloaded or overheated, which may cause the generator to fail.
- Make sure your generator produces more power than will be drawn by the electrical devices you connect to the generator – Ensure all electrical devices are turned off before you connect them to a generator. Once the generator is running, switch devices on one by one.
- Never run a generator indoors.
- Loss of power could jeopardize the safety of your food. Consider the following tips in order to help you keep food safe, minimize the potential loss of food and reduce risk of food borne illness:
- Always keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40 degrees. This may be difficult during a power outage.
- Keep refrigerator doors closed as much as possible. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
- A full freezer will hold temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it’s half full) if the door remains closed.
- Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic foot full freezer for 2 days.
- Coolers are a great help for keeping food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
- Digital, dial, or instant-read food thermometers and appliances thermometers will help you know if the food is at safe temperatures. Keep appliance thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer at all times.
- The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees (F) or below; the freezer, 0 degrees (F) or lower.