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Are You Ready? Four Tips for Disaster Preparedness

DATE: July 2021

The National Hurricane Center is predicting an above average year for the 2021 hurricane season. In 2020 we had a record year with over 30 named storms and billions of dollars in damage. The United States reported approximately $37 billion in damage from the Atlantic tropical cyclone cycle. Although 2021 is not expected to be as significant as 2020, the prediction includes a minimum of four major Category 3 to 5 storms making landfall. APTIM’s Resilience, Response, Recovery and Mitigation Teams have initiated readiness activities in preparation for an active season. Never a better time than the present for you to participate by preparing your family, our business and our customers for the potential of natural or man-made incidents that pose a threat to the safety and health of our peers and the economic health of our nation.   

Disasters can strike quickly and without warning and can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home for significant periods of time. What would you do if basic services—water, gas, electricity or telephones—were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Families must prepare themselves for an emergency in advance so that they understand what they must do and where they must go if and when an emergency arises. Authorities suggest that we must be prepared to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 72-hours.

APTIM’s Resilience, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Teams recommend the following four tips to ready yourself and family in the event of a disaster:

 Find Out What Could Happen to You 

  • Meet with household members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events, including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills, and terrorism. 
  • Learn about your community’s warning and alert systems: how would you receive such alerts and what actions you should take once receiving the alert?  
  • Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons within your block or community, if needed. 
  • Make a plan for animal care before a disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters due to health regulations. 
  • Find out about the disaster plans in your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center and other places your family spends time. 

 Create a Disaster Plan  

  • Pick two places to meet:
  1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. 
  2. Outside your neighborhood in case, you cannot return home. All family members must know the address and phone number. 
  • Choose an out-of-town or out-of-state contact your family or household will call or email to check on each other should a disaster occur. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact’s phone number. 
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets. 

Complete a Preparedness Checklist 

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by the phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) and saved in your mobile phone contacts.  
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 for emergency help. 
  • Show each family member how to and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches to your home. 
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage, with special attention to flood insurance. 
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type) and show them where it is kept. 
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. 
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class. 
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. 
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room. 

Practice and Maintain Your Plan 

  • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do in case of an emergency. 
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills. 
  • Replace stored water and food every six months. 
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions. 
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice each year when you set your clocks for daylight savings or standard time. 

APTIM’s Resilience, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Teams have provided emergency preparedness, disaster response, recovery, and mitigation services to local, state, federal, and commercial clients for more than 40 years. During this time, we have established procedures, strategic relationships with vendors, and an understanding of the complete life cycle of a disaster. Contact APTIM for more information on how we can assist in readying your business for future disasters.