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LIVING WELL: Sandy highlights need for preparedness

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The people who are experiencing losses and relocation related to the super storm Sandy had advance warning.

For several days prior to landfall of the catastrophic weather event, the National Weather Service repeated dire warnings of the impending storm, the flooding that would definitely occur, the electrical outages that would last for days, and other consequences.

Governors issued mandatory evacuation orders to make sure people relocated to avoid loss of life.

In spite of these opportunities to prepare ahead of time, the results of the storm were devastating. But because so many people took heed of the warnings, the cost in lives and injuries was less than it would have been if the highly populated cities were caught off guard.

Unfortunately, most natural disasters cannot be anticipated with such accuracy.

Particularly here in our area, we are subject to random winter storms, occasional tornadoes and the potential for flood damage.

As I reflect back on the past 25 years I have lived in Middle Tennessee, I am very glad to congratulate our utility services, city administrators and workers, and emergency personnel for an outstanding job in preparing for and responding to emergencies.

Rarely have we experienced serious utility outages. The electrical, gas and water utilities have been exceptionally diligent in anticipating the kinds of events that could wreak havoc on the services on which we depend.

Our emergency responders have a great reputation for training and exhibiting exceptional service and self-sacrifice to serve the needs of our community.

Our local medical personnel are prepared to handle the kinds of large-scale emergency situations that might arise.

As we have witnessed, it really takes more than the work and effort of emergency personnel. For a response to a crisis to be truly successful, it also depends on each one of us doing our part as well.

Have you thought about how you would handle various types of emergency situations?

As an old adage says, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

Each person who requires emergency aid during a crisis adds to the burden of the responding personnel.

If more people took the steps necessary to be prepared to handle their own needs in a crisis, the available personnel would have more resources available to answer the needs of the elderly, disabled and otherwise vulnerable citizens.

The American Red Cross has a history of doing an admirable job in responding to emergencies such as storms and fires.

In addition to providing immediate aid to people affected by the crisis, the Red Cross offers some recommendations to be prepared for emergencies. Its website has some great suggestions to help you prepare for practically any kind of emergency. Visit www.redcross.org/prepare and navigate from there to learn more.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has some great advice for individuals, as well as business owners, on its website, www.ready.gov.

Some of the most basic recommendations all of us should follow include having enough drinking water on hand for each person in a household, which means keeping 1 gallon per person for at least three days if needed.

You should also keep at least three days of non-perishable food and a can opener in storage, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and batteries, basic hand tools, as well as dry clothes and blankets.

These are just the most basic recommendations that each of us should follow.

For more detailed information, go to the websites mentioned and begin your own emergency preparedness plan. In addition to having basic emergency supplies on hand, it is just as important to learn what to do to respond to various kinds of emergencies.

With winter approaching, you may have the need to utilize these tips sooner rather than later.

If emergency strikes, make sure you are part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

Tagged under  Health, Living Well, Mark Kestner, Red Cross, Safety, Weather

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