Learning how to be ready for whatever’s next

Preparing for disaster



The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” reminds us that we need to be prepared for many eventualities. These days, however, the mathematics of preparedness is more exacting. A seven-to-10-day supply of water — one gallon per person per day — is an essential part of emergency supplies to be included in a survival kit.

Sergeant Raphael Ramos, a member of the National Guard who works out of the Connecticut Street Armory, recently spoke at the Dunkirk Senior Center, packing a lot of information about disaster preparedness into a short time. Disasters are divided into three main categories: natural, manmade and technological.

Natural disasters include blizzards, floods, hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes. Locally, we don’t often consider the possibility of an earthquake. Ramos asked, “How many of you know that there are five fault lines in New York? … So an earthquake is possible.”

Examples of manmade disasters are terrorism, manufacturing/industrial and transportation disasters. An example of a technological disaster is a water system failure.

Being prepared takes four steps: developing an emergency plan, building a kit, being aware, and getting involved.

Ramos pointed out that everyone in the family needs to be aware of the plan. One important part of a plan is a safe meeting place. However, Ramos suggested two safe meeting places — one near the family home, and one at a greater distance away if the situation does not allow staying close to home. He also stressed the need for a communication system for family members both local and out of town.

Many emergencies involve a loss of utilities, so the emergency kit should allow a family to make it on their own for seven to 10 days. Those attending the presentation received a pamphlet with an emergency supplies checklist. Checklist items included first aid supplies, sustainment (food and water), hygiene supplies and tools. Although basic supplies apply to everyone, the kit has to be specialized to fit the nutritional and/or medical needs of each person as well as the family pet.

In addition to the personal kits, a “Go-To Bag” with a smaller amount of necessary items should be created for each family member. “Involve the kids,” Ramos said. “My young son enjoys thinking about the bag.” Supplies should be checked yearly to make sure items aren’t out of date.

Being aware is necessary both before and after emergencies. People can sign up for nysalert.gov to receive emergency notifications. An awareness of the local area helps people know to whom they can turn for help. In the special instance of terrorism, it is important to be aware if something isn’t right. The website for more information is www.dhses.ny.gov.oct. Tips for describing suspicious behavior and notifying authorities are provided.

Ramos said the first priority is to take care of family. Next, neighbors can help each other. Finally, the larger community can pull together to get through a disaster. One idea is to learn first aid in case hospitals and urgent care facilities are difficult to access.

Further information and training can be found at www.prepare.ny.gov.