October is Disaster Preparedness Month
October 16, 2013
Editor's note: Beau Renfro is the Wahkiakum Co. Emergency Management Coordinator.
The Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Office Department of Emergency Management (DEM) is happy to announce that October is Washington State Disaster Preparedness Month.
Governor Jay Inslee proclaimed October, Washington State Disaster Preparedness month and urged residents to take appropriate actions to prepare for future emergencies. The proclamation also includes a statewide drop, cover, and hold earthquake drill.
The drill, dubbed the Great Washington ShakeOut, is scheduled for 10:17 a.m. October 17th. The effort is designed to emphasize the importance of emergency preparedness at home, school, and the workplace.
More than 760,000 Washington residents have signed up for the Great Washington ShakeOut. State officials hope the exercise involves more than 1 million participants in Washington. Washington residents can register for the drill at http://www.shakeout.org/washington.
I am encouraging all residents to participate in the Great Washington ShakeOut drill. In my recent Community Emergency Preparedness survey 72% of participants indicated that they were at least somewhat concerned about an earthquake affecting our community. This is a great first step to preparing for an earthquake.
Each week in October I am discussing a different aspect of being prepared. This week I am going to discuss the second component of being prepared “Creating a Plan."
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through. You may obtain Family Communications Plans forms from my office or at ready.gov.
It is very important to write your plan down and put it in a safe accessible place. Studies have shown that people tend to panic or are unable to remember what they are supposed to do during and after major emergencies or disasters.
I hope everyone is finding these short articles helpful and that you spotted the full page “Emergency Flood Information” ad in last week’s Eagle and Chinook Observer. In the coming weeks, I will be discussing how to “Build a Kit” and a county wide test of the Emergency Community Notification System.
If you have any question or for more information on the item I have discussed in this article contact me at 795-3242, 465-2202 or visit my website at: http://www.co.wahkiakum.wa.us/dem.html .