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September Is National Preparedness Month: Are You Ready For A Disaster?

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Disasters can happen at any time, so emergency responders say the best way to survive is to plan ahead.

The reminder comes as part of September’s National Preparedness Month.

For the past 16 years, emergency management officials have conducted a public campaign to get people ready to face a disaster.

They recommend placing non-perishable food, water and supplies into a container to be used when needed.

Cody Charvat with Sedgwick County Emergency Management says it’s important to plan for the possibility of losing electricity for up to 72 hours.

"One of the things that’s most critical is probably a first aid kit and somebody who knows how to use it," Charvat says. "We saw this down in Houston where people were cut off from emergency services for days, maybe even a week at a time, before the folks could get there."

An emergency kit should also include copies of documents such as driver’s license, social security cards, credit cards, insurance policies and bank accounts; a list of phone numbers or an address book; battery-powered flashlights and radios; and families should include supplies and activities for children.

Charvat says an emergency plan should include designating a meeting location outside the home, an evacuation route and the way a family or household will communicate.

"Just having the plan is only half the battle; you have to practice that plan as well especially if you have children in the house" Charvat says. "Just think about it: we expect them to go through fire drills and tornado drills at school because it takes repetition before they remember exactly where they’re supposed to go and what they’re going to do. You need to do that at home as well."

He says the top five threats to south-central Kansas are floods, tornadoes, severe storms, drought and earthquakes. There are about 34 threats that could affect the region including train derailment, trucks carrying hazardous materials and civil unrest.

Charvat says people need to stay informed in the community because sirens only sound for tornadoes.

"The best way to be able to help people is to get training beforehand," Charvat says. "Become part of a recognized team that is going to be activated after a disaster."

National Preparedness Month was started after 9-11.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

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