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Practice Scouts’ motto: Be prepared

Do you and your family know how you would respond in the event of a disaster? I’d be willing to bet that if you have young children, you have at least discussed what they should do if there was a fire or tornado at your home. And if those children are in school, they should also know what to do if either of those tragedies strike while they are on school property.
But what if other tragedies were to hit our area, such as a flood, earthquake or even a medical pandemic? Do you have a plan for any of these occurrences?
And there’s a lot more to being prepared than talking about how to react in the first few minutes or even hours of a disaster.
Do you have a long-term plan ‘ at least two or three weeks ‘ for more serious events?
The Harrison County Health Dept. hosted a community awareness meeting earlier this month, and had a guest speaker from the Indiana Dept. of Health. Although the topic was about preparing for a pandemic influenza outbreak, the message can be applied to other disasters.
Because of our geographical location, we Harrison Countians won’t ever face the destruction of a hurricane or a tsunami in our day-to-day life, but we have experienced severe flooding here. And none of us are immune from any of the other tragedies mentioned earlier.
But there are other things we can do to make our life easier for when disasters occur.
Develop a plan of action. Start with the basics, then provide details for each type of occurrence you may be faced with. Don’t forget to think about where you might be when tragedy strikes ‘ home, work, school, or in route to any of those places ‘ and what you would do in each case. Work out how you would connect with your loved ones if you happened to be separated at the time. If you are a pet owner or own livestock, you should also take those into consideration.
Then decide what you would need to take care of yourself and your family under each circumstance. Preparing for meeting your basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, might be fairly simple, but don’t forget to think about medications that may be needed. And every home should have an emergency kit.
Check out the state health department’s Web site for in.gov/isdh. Or another Web site I found helpful is ready.gov/america/index/html.
Once you know you have planned for meeting your basic needs, turn your attention to those important documents you may be asked to produce, such as bank statements, Social Security cards, driver’s license, insurance papers, whatever you have that may establish who you are and what you had before disaster hit. It would be prudent to have copies of these documents in more than one location: home, fireproof lockbox or bank safe deposit box, perhaps at work. Again, keep in mind, you don’t know where you’ll be when disaster strikes. Also, you don’t know how others will be affected.
When the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast last year, we saw what can happen when people depend too much on the government taking care of them in a timely fashion. You can help make your life easier by taking steps now to take care of yourself.
One last area where you can take steps to protect yourself is your health. Vow now to get in shape. Eat healthy. Exercise. If you smoke, work on quitting. Get yourself in the best possible shape; it will pay off every day of your life and will make surviving a disaster easier.
Our county public health coordinator, Tony Combs, sums up planning for disaster this way: Plan for the worse and hope for the best.
So, during September, which has been designated National Preparedness Month, take the time to do some planning for what you and your family would do in the event of a disaster. Practice the Scouts’ motto: Be prepared.

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