National Preparedness Month

Thursday, August 27, 2009

As summer draws to a close, area residents should begin to think about and prepare for the fall thunderstorms and winter weather than often hit Barry County and the surrounding area. September, which is known as National Preparedness Month, is a great time to develop emergency plans and prepare an emergency kit for your family.

According to a study recently completed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's emergency preparedness and resiliency grassroots strategy Citizen Corps, only 42 percent of Americans have developed an emergency plan for their home.

Although local emergency management officials work continously to develop improved emergency plans, area residents can prepare for local emergencies by assembling emergency kits to sustain their families for the first 72 hours of any emergency, said David Compton, Barry County Emergency Management director. Emergency kits should contain enough non-perishable food and water to nourish each family member for three days during a regional emergency. The kit should also include a battery powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, medical supplies and other items that could be essential during an emergency.

The Barry County Health Department offers "Ready in Three: Three Steps to Prepare for an Emergency" pamphlets, which can help families develop an emergency kit for their home. The pamphlet also contains tips on developing emergency plans for your family. Each member of your family should know how to respond to an emergency whether it occurs when they are at home, school, work or in a car. Family members should discuss how they will reach each other in different situations and develop back-up plans for different emergencies.

Emergencies, such as ice storms, flooding and tornados, can strike the area quickly and have a devastating impact on local residents. Over the last few years, many Barry County residents have been affected by severe thunderstorms, ice storms and other events. These emergencies have led community leaders to develop local emergency preparedness groups, including the Barry County Disaster Committee. Other local residents have developed plans for emergency shelters and received American Red Cross training to assist their communities in the event of a wide spread emergency.

Even though it is commendable that so many people have volunteered to help their fellow residents during a local disaster, we must all remember that it is our responsibility to prepare ourselves and our families for any emergency situation.

For more information on developing an emergency kit and plan for your family, obtain a Ready in Three pamphlet at the Barry County Health Department office, which is located at 65 Main St., in Cassville or visit the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on-line at www.dhss.mo.gov.

Lindsay Reed