CULLMAN – Events like the deadly tornadoes of April 27, 2011 are not days that we as a county want to remember. Homes, businesses and lives were lost that day across the state, and we as a community recovered together, stronger and united. After that day, the thought of having a plan in place for disaster became a top priority for many families.
September is National Preparedness Month where families and businesses are taking action to help their communities be more prepared for any disaster. From natural disasters to manmade ones, a plan can be made for almost any situation. Matt Carrier, the disaster program manager for the Cullman Chapter of American Red Cross, says that the simple things can be a big help.
“Make sure you have insurance on your belongings,” Carrier said. “You would be surprised how many people do not have it. Making sure you have structure and contents insurance, or renter’s insurance will be a huge benefit to them. It is there no matter what the disaster is, and gives you something to start over with that you would otherwise not have.”
Of course, as anyone who was around during that tumultuous April 27th day can tell you, being prepared when the power is out for days or even weeks is not something insurance will cover. It is in these instances that everyone has to take different precautions. Carrier says that in situations of evacuation, a to-go kit is what you need to be prepared.
“In times when you may need to evacuate quickly a to-go kit is always good to have on hand,” said Carrier. “Filled with items like a change of clothes, medications or first aid kit, water and some light food; whatever you feel you might need to survive on for a day or two.”
The theme for this year’s preparedness month is Resolve to be Prepared, with the concentration being on including your children in your preparations so that they can be informed on what they need to do in a disaster situation as well. The website Ready.gov has some excellent resources on helping families teach their children how to be prepared by asking three simple questions: who to call, where to meet and what to pack. It is an idea that Carrier agrees with when planning with your family.
“If you have a family, then you need to have a family reunification plan,” Carrier stated. “Not all disasters happen when everyone is at home. So if the kids are at school and the parents are at work, they really need to have a reunification plan.”
Indeed it is all too easy to for loved ones to lose contact with one another when chaos has ensued. Having a plan for you, your children and even your pets can bring peace of mind to parents, and give children a sense of confidence and security. Take a moment this month to sit down with your loved ones and come up with a set of plans that answer those three important questions for any situation: who to call, where to meet and what to pack.