Sunday, January 20, 2019


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What’s Your Plan?

            The "incoming missile" alert transmitted by Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency sent much of the state's population into panic before it was declared false some 38 minutes after it was triggered.  One can only imagine the emotions racing through a public, ripe with fear, that a missile with a nuclear warhead was coming its way.

            On Tuesday, a Japanese public broadcaster issued an alert claiming that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile and warned people to "evacuate inside the building or underground."

            They were much quicker to correct the mistake, but in both cases the stress on the people must have been enormous.

            Over the past month, we've heard and read about mandatory evacuations on our own west coast due to fires and mudslides.

            It wasn't that long ago that hurricanes forced mandatory evacuations along the east coast – not too far from here.

            Disasters of any size can be brought by fires, storms, floods and other causes.  We are not immune and yes, it could happen in your home town and even your own neighborhood. 

            The false alerts in Hawaii and Japan should remind us of our own vulnerability if an emergency occurred where you live; one that requires you and your family to get out quick.

            Don't be embarrassed to make a plan and communicate it with your family.  Remember that you and your family may not be together if a disaster strikes.  Plan for both situations.

            Know what types of disaster could affect your area and decide how you and your family will contact each other and get together if separated.  What if the electric and phone lines are down and the network is jammed?  Have a meeting place that is familiar and easy to find.

            Talk about how emergency alerts and warning will be received.  Have a shelter plan and an evacuation route.  And, communicate those plans to all involved.

            Develop your plan to the specific daily living needs.  Discuss needs and responsibilities and how your family and friends can assist each other with communications, child care, business, pets or other specific needs. 

            Don't forget dietary and medical needs including drugs and prescriptions, pets or service animals, and the different ages of everyone in your plan.

            Know where emergency shelters are in your area, how they are activated, and what they provide.  Municipalities have Emergency Service Coordinators and you should be able to secure the needed information through your borough or township office.

            Finally, practice your plan with everyone involved in it.

            Most importantly: Communicate. 

            There are so many more considerations and actions – these are just a few.

            The events of the past few months should serve as a reminder of our responsibilities to ourselves and others.

            Start thinking about your strategy for what to do in an emergency evacuation, and remember that it won't help those included in it unless you communicate it to them.

            You may never need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you have a plan.





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