The idea of having a Family Emergency Preparedness Program began at the national level with the American Red Cross (ARC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The ARC and FEMA are encouraging local jurisdictions to become actively involved in disaster preparedness. Therefore, the Butler Emergency Management Agency and the local Red Cross Chapters of Butler County are working together to support "Family Emergency Preparedness."
Pamphlets are available for this special program to train families on how to protect themselves against serious emergencies or disasters. Families can, and do, cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. "Knowing what to do is your best protection" it explains, "and is your responsibility!" These attractive, easy-to-read brochures are available from the Butler County Emergency Management Agency or the Hamilton or Middletown Chapters of the ARC. These pamphlets include titles such as:
"Your Family Disaster Plan,"
"Helping Children Cope with Disaster,"
"Emergency Preparedness Checklist,"
"Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit."
Having an understanding on the part of your family members, particularly the children, of what to do -- whom to call -- to get help in an emergency is a vital step in the right direction toward family emergency preparedness. It also is important to know how long the emergency situation will exist, and to know that emergency information is available.
Every Butler County household should have at least one portable battery powered AM-FM radio available at all times, including a fresh supply of unused batteries to use in case of a serious emergency or disaster when normal electrical power has been lost. This is the advice of officials of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency. "Experiences during widespread power outages in Butler County have shown that this is the only practical way we can quickly reach large numbers of people with emergency information," said William Ray Turner, Butler County Emergency Management Director. "It cannot be urged strongly enough," he further explained. Although battery powered radios are reasonably priced, they could make a vital difference in protecting any Butler County family.
Emergency preparedness, however, is an individual responsibility. Nobody will do it for you.
Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be just about anywhere . . . at work . . . at school . . . or in the car. Officials of the Butler County Emergency Management Agency believe this is very important to you and to all members of your family. If you have a family emergency plan, it will help you know how to find each other when any kind of disaster strikes close by. If you are a parent, you want to know that your children are safe, or that your parents or in-laws are protected from danger.
Local officials in your community know that some serious emergencies can mean that basic utilities such as drinking water, natural gas supplies, electrical power or your telephone service may be interrupted. The emergency may last for hours, or even days. Sometimes you could be isolated for some time before relief comes from emergency response units or repair crews -- and you will have to "go it alone." Would you be ready for that? That's why The Butler County Emergency Management Agency officials want you to plan ahead. You should be able to cope with disaster by preparing in advance, and training with other members of your home or neighborhood to work together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection -- it is really your responsibility.
Working with your neighbors could help you in a crisis to save lives or protect property in your community. Free information is available that can help you and neighbors plan how to work together after a disaster, at least until relief workers or repair crews can reach your location. If you are a member of a neighborhood association or a similar group, you will be helping everyone if you tell others about how to plan for disaster -- any serious emergency that might affect your lives or safety.
Knowing your neighbor's skills could be of immense value in a crisis. If someone nearby has medical or technical training, it could be very important to everyone. Consider how you could help others who have special needs, such as those who are disabled, or elderly persons who are not strong enough to take care of themselves under stressful situations. It might be important to plan ahead for child care, in case some parents are unable to get home because of an emergency.
What would happen if you suddenly were required to evacuate from your home or business because of a disaster situation? Officials of The Butler County Emergency Management Agency want you to plan ahead so that you and other family members or close associates would already have a good idea of where you would be, or how to contact you in such a situation. If you are requested to evacuate, you should be prepared to do so immediately.
Here are some other keys to protecting yourself in such an event:
- Take along a battery powered portable AM-FM radio and follow the instructions given by local emergency officials. You should have a supply of unused fresh batteries.
- Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Take along your emergency supplies kit.
- Lock your home securely.
- Use the travel routes specified by local authorities -- don't take a chance on short cuts which could be impassible or dangerous.
IF YOU ARE CERTAIN YOU HAVE TIME:
- Shut off the water, gas and electricity -- if instructed to do so. Post a note stating what time you left and, if you know, where you are going.
- Make an Emergency Supply Kit that Stays in Your Car.
What can you do that would protect you and members of your family in case of a real emergency, either while you are traveling away from home, or if you suddenly have to leave to avoid a dangerous threat to you and your family?
Officials of The Butler County Emergency Management Agency advise you to have an Emergency Supply Kit packed in your trunk. It should stay there, ready to offer help in the event of an actual disaster or crisis. Here are some of the items to consider:
- A good first aid kit.
- A blanket roll or sleeping bag or two.
- Pure bottled water in a secure, unopened container.
- Canned fruits and nuts, durable high energy foods.
- A combination can/bottle opener and a jack knife.
- A small box of plastic eating utensils and a roll of paper towel.
- A strong, short shovel for digging.
- Rain gear and a few versatile items of warm clothing to fit family members.
- Traction mats or tire chains in case of mud or snow.
- Booster (jumper) cables and a few basic hand tools.
- Matches in a tight (waterproof) container and some candles.
- A good flashlight with a supply of spare batteries.
Never carry extra gasoline in any container other than in the regular gas tank of your car. As a simple rule, ordinarily, refill before it goes past the quarter level above the empty mark. In winter, particularly with a winter storm advisory, look for a service station as you reach the half mark on your gas gauge.
Family Emergency Preparedness activities must include consideration for the needs of children. The youngsters must have a clear understanding of the basic facts about how to call for help in an emergency or disaster. This is an ideal time to include children in the discussions of the family's plan to protect all members of the household in case of a serious calamity.
Local Emergency Management Officials believe strongly that children and their fears should be included as part of family preparedness planning. Children must understand that arrangements will be made to take adequate care of their needs whenever disaster threatens. Having a family disaster plan is the most essential step in the process to reassure children that adults will care for them, no matter what.
Some steps to consider include making sure the children know about smoke detectors, fire alarms and local warning signals such as horns or sirens. On days when such sirens or signals are sounded, parents should have the children become familiar with the sounds. Youngsters should be taught about using the telephone to reach help, either by calling the main phone numbers listed for emergency services such as fire and police, or by calling 9-1-1. In addition, at an early age as possible, children should be helped to memorize their family name, address and phone number. If the youngster is too young to remember such facts, a small index card with essential names and numbers should be prepared that the child can give to an adult or baby sitter. A familiar place to meet should be planned in advance where the children should expect to go following any emergency that forces them to leave their home.
Where To Order Information on Family Preparedness
Keep in mind that having the right literature available is a definite asset in getting ready for Family Emergency Preparedness. Attractive, easy-to-read brochures are usually available from The Butler County Emergency Management Agency or local chapters of the American Red Cross. The pamphlets include titles such as:: "Your Family Disaster Plan," "Helping Children Cope with Disaster," "Emergency Preparedness Checklist," and "Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit." For further information, write to:
Jeff Galloway, Director
Butler County Emergency Management Agency
315 High Street
Hamilton, Ohio 45011