Be Prepared for Emergencies!
Are You Prepared?
September was Emergency Preparedness month, and KIPDA focused on presenting some of the latest information in preparing for unexpected emergencies and took a look at how our local communities have prepared to ensure the safety of citizens.
Here is some information on what you can do as an individual and a family to become more prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster. Believe it or not, even widespread illness, such as a pandemic, could be considered an emergency and could be disastrous to our communities, both in terms of lives and economic impact.
Do Your Part to Prepare
Most people, including children and the most vulnerable, can do their part to help save their own lives and the lives of others if time is taken to make a plan and become prepared. Following are some easy steps that can be taken to help yourself and your family, should you become ill, need to shelter in place during inclement weather, experience a community emergency or need to evacuate.
Step 1: Make a Plan!
Planning in advance for a possible weather, medical, industrial chemical or community emergency will help you remain calm and connected with those you love and who can help. Prepare a list of emergency contact information and place the information in an obvious and convenient location in your home or luggage, if traveling. Do not forget to include the name and number of your family members, doctor, hospital, pharmacy, health department, police and fire department.
If you do not drive, or if you have a disability which prevents you from driving, make prior arrangements with a neighbor or family member to assist you in the event of an emergency evacuation. Some communities offer a registry or notification to law enforcement and rescue personnel for individuals who are disabled and may need immediate assistance during an emergency.
Step 2: Make a Kit!
These are items that should be available if you need to stay in your home or shelter in place, many of which should go in your evacuation kit if you need to evacuate immediately:
- Food and water (3 day supply of water and non-perishable foods)
- Medical and health supplies (prescription and non-prescription medicine; tissues; toilet paper; wipes and diapers if necessary)
- Soap and cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer
- Flashlight and battery-operated radio
- Garbage bags and blankets
- Charged cell phone and charger
- Socks and clothing to stay dry and warm
- Important documents and insurance information
Disability-Related Supplies and Equipment
- Wheelchair or scooter supplies (patch kit for tires and extra inner tubes)
- Oxygen supply (operated without electricity)
- Special supplies and equipment for persons who are blind or deaf
- Hearing aid batteries
- Flashlight, whistle or noise maker
- Communication equipment for persons who have speech related disabilities (pencil and paper)
- Service animal supplies and equipment
Step 3: Prepare for Possible Evacuation!
Unexpected evacuations can cause great anxiety if you must leave your home without your personal belongings. Prepare the items above in an evacuation kit and store them in an accessible location, in a rolling backpack or bag.
If you own a pet or service animal, care and nourishment of the animal will also be necessary. What is usually good for a person is also what is good for a pet. Planning in advance for sheltering or evacuation is necessary. If you have to evacuate the area, plan in advance for shelter alternatives, should you need to evacuate with your pet.
Advanced planning and practicing an evacuation plan is particularly important for persons who have disabilities which inhibit mobility. Making travel arrangements with a reliable neighbor, church member or family member is also important if you do not drive or have access to a vehicle.
Practicing good hygiene and careful handling of food will help you stay as healthy as possible and can prevent illness. The following steps will limit the spread of germs:
- Wash hands thoroughly with warm soapy water or use hand sanitizer
- Keep living and work areas clean
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Stay at home if you are sick
- Get a flu shot, and if over age 65 or have a chronic illness, a pneumonia shot
- Thoroughly cook all meats and poultry
- Stay informed about the latest health alerts.
Pandemic illness is caused by a new virus that people have not been exposed to before. Flu shots may not be available during the beginning of a pandemic flu until the experts know what the new virus will be. A flu pandemic could last for several months and could have a major impact on communities, including restrictions on travel, closing of businesses and schools, and limited services for people. Health systems will also be overwhelmed.
To protect individuals, health officials may ask communities to implement the following steps:
- Social distancing: Avoid crowded places and social gatherings, work from home and change work schedules and patterns to slow the spread of the flu
- Disruption in Community Services and Events: During a pandemic flu, public events, meetings and public services may be disrupted or cancelled.
Remaining patient and understanding when trying to access or participate in normal events will be important. Maintain contact with your family and other support available, in the event you become ill and need immediate assistance. During this time, it will be important to stay as healthy as possible by washing your hands, maintaining a clean living environment and workspace, and if necessary, wearing a dust mask to filter contaminated air.
Federal, State and Local Resource Information
Extensive information on preparing an emergency plan and necessary items to consider during an emergency is available in printed material and on various websites. For more information on Emergency Preparedness, contact the following information resources:
Federal Resource Information
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
American Red Cross
Federal Emergency Management Agency
US Department of Health and Human Services
Commonwealth of Kentucky Resource Information
Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (1-800-543-7723)
Kentucky Department of Public Health (502-564-3970)
Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (502-564-2081)
Kentucky Commission of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (1-800-372-2907)
Kentucky Office for the Blind (1-800-321-6668)
KIPDA Region Resource Information
Louisville-Metro Government Metro Safe
Kentucky Emergency Management – Region 6
Division of Emergency Management
Fairgrounds National Guard Armory
2729 Crittenden Drive
Louisville, KY 40209-1199
KIPDA Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living
11520 Commonwealth Drive
Louisville, KY 40299