April 13, 2015

Planning Ahead

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

As a Boy Scout, I grew up with the motto of "Be Prepared."  As an adult, this enduring phrase is all the more meaningful.  Thinking through and developing plans for emergency situations, including natural disasters or wildfires, can help with a timely recovery when problems arise.  A number of resources and recommendations are available to help us get through and bounce back from tough situations.

Putting together an emergency supply kit is encouraged to prepare for disasters such as fire and storms.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends including the following items in a basic emergency supply kit:  One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered or hand crank radio; flashlight and extra batteries; first aid kit; whistle to signal for help; dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place; moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties; wrench or pliers to turn off utilities; can opener; and local maps.  FEMA provides recommendations on additional items to consider adding to an emergency supply kit at www.ready.gov.     

Families are also encouraged to prepare communication, shelter-in-place and getaway plans.  Recognizing that family members may be in different places when an emergency occurs and that it may be easier to make long-distance calls, FEMA recommends consideration of "a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency."  Additionally, the agency suggests preparing a getaway plan that includes several destinations in different directions and arrangements for assembling your loved ones.  Staying informed of potential area-specific threats is also recommended by emergency personnel.  Information about potential emergencies, including information about signing up for emergency alerts, can also be accessed through www.ready.gov

Additionally, we know that wildfires are going to continue to be a threat to Idaho communities.  A number of resources, including some provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, are available that provide recommendations of ways homeowners can increase the chances of their homes surviving a wildfire.  The U.S. Fire Administration and FEMA also suggest steps to take when a wildfire is immediately threatening your home.  These include listening to a battery-operated radio for evacuation information, backing your car into your garage or in an open space facing the direction of escape, making plans for pet care, arranging temporary housing with friends or family outside of the threatened area, wearing protective clothing, taking your disaster supplies kit with you and much more.

Being prepared for emergency situations can make a significant difference to families faced with natural disasters and other critical incidents.  Steps such as having prescription medications accessible when cut off from pharmacies and other resources for periods of time can be instrumental in maintaining health and safety during difficult times. 

Hopefully, we will never need to utilize the plans and supplies prepared for emergencies.  However, it does not hurt to plan for the worst.  Establishing plans now can make an immense difference during urgent situations. 

# # #

 Word Count:  508