While tornado season is coming to a close, an emergency situation could happen at any time. Emergency Management Agency officials are using Emergency Preparedness Month, which starts today, to help citizens have a plan in place.
Sedalia-Pettis County EMA Director Dave Clippert said there are several basic things people can do to be prepared for an emergency situation, such as having a first aid kit handy and an emergency communication plan for your family.
“The thing I tell most people when talking about emergency plans is it doesn’t have to be huge or an in-depth plan that is pages and pages,” he said. “It’s about having the information readily available so everyone in the family who is old enough can get to that. There should be places for phone numbers and nearest relatives, any family information you want your family to know.
“Knowing where to go is important, especially in today’s world — you might have kids in two different schools and parents working two different jobs. Get in touch with each other to know if you’re OK. Should they go home, should they go to the neighbors’ — having a plan everybody is aware of. Have that little plan, only about a half page, somewhere where everyone knows where it is; I usually suggest putting it on the fridge.”
In addition to an emergency plan, Clippert also reminded citizens of the importance of having an emergency kit on hand for situations such as a long-term power outage. His No. 1. recommendation was to have drinkable water — about a gallon a day per person in the family, as well as some for any pets. Other recommended items include canned food, flashlights and batteries, sturdy shoes, clean clothes and blankets. A first aid kit should also be in the home for any basic injuries that don’t require a hospital.
“Things that will make your life a little easier, just in case something comes up,” Clippert said of an emergency kit. “If there’s a major power outage or ice storm, this will make life a little easier, and at least you bought yourself some time.”
With the winter season just around the corner, Missouri citizens should be getting prepared for snow storms. Sedalia and Pettis County saw a record in 2011, and two separate 2013 snow storms within days of each other dropped 17 to 18 inches on the area, causing some to lose power for five days, Clippert said. He noted that is when the emergency kit can come in handy.
Clippert commented that he communicated with many people via cell phones they were charging in their cars during the power outage. While it can be difficult to make cellphone calls after a disaster, sometimes sending a text can be easier, as it takes less bandwidth.
“I recommend that everyone knows how to use the text features on their phones; they can tell people they’re OK or if they need help,” Clippert said. “Most people have a cellphone, but this is generally with our elderly folks, they may not text. We like to remind them, figure out how to use texting, so if the need arises you have some kind of lifeline you can get out.”
As one final piece of advice, Clippert reminded citizens to search out the most reliable information during an emergency, not just relying on what their Facebook news feed may be saying.
“The biggest thing is always listen for information and make sure you’re getting the correct information. Social media is great for getting things out to people, but you have to make sure you’re listening to the correct information,” Clippert said. “A lot of stuff that goes out that is not correct and people start making assumptions. … Listen to the radio, and if you can get on the web with your phone, look for reputable information.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.