THOMPSON COLUMN: Are you prepared for disaster?

Published 3:57 pm Thursday, September 4, 2014

I’m sure everyone has heard the statement, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That statement is very accurate in our everyday lives as well as in dealing with difficult situations. First responders, which are usually fire department, law enforcement and medical response, carry on their everyday activities knowing that at any moment “routine” could become disastrous and chaotic. To reduce the chances of that happening, training is done regularly and more often than not, that training involves worst case scenario. Most cases are seemingly routine, but preparing for the worst enables a person or organization to deal with that situation with the mind set of, how a person can increase their chances of success. That thought process should be the same with you, the home owner. You should ask yourself the question, ‘What are my capabilities of being mostly self-sufficient in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, or emergency?’ I can ask you the more direct question, ARE YOU PREPARED?

Preparedness comes in many shapes and sizes but the end result is always about how well prepared you are to see the emergency through until help can arrive. I’m sure some will make the statement to themselves that all I need to do is call 911 and someone will come for me. Preparedness for a disaster goes much deeper than that in the fact that phone service may not be available, road access may not be available and maybe overall access to your residence may not be immediately available. There are a vast amount of things that an individual person or family can do to prepare themselves for an emergency or disaster. Stock up on foods that have a long shelf life, and keeping it stocked along with plenty of water. Make sure that you rotate your stock to ensure freshness of your goods. Make sure that you have a sufficient batter supply for flashlights and lamps, and make sure that an inventory is kept up concerning medical supplies and important papers. There are many more steps that can be taken, but I encourage everyone to engage in their own research and determine what supplies will fit their emergency needs. Remember, no one can take care of and prepare for you, like you.

Your local first responders are ready and willing to answer your call for help and will do so in the event that the call goes out. Lets assume and compare that a Hurricane Opal Cat 3 type storm is approaching versus the possibility of tornadoes due to an approaching weather front. Your preparation would be the same, but the response could be vastly different due to the hurricane creating a widespread damage area. Diligence in personal preparation could lessen the impact by that emergency, in the situation that help from emergency responders could be hours away. Prepare as though you would be on your own for at least 72 hours.

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As your new EMA Director of Crenshaw County, I plan on keeping awareness information and tips available for you to read via newspaper as well as through the EMA Facebook page. Let us also not forget, that when we can, lets help those who are unable to help themselves. If you know someone who needs help in preparing, give them a hand or direct them on where to locate preparation ideas.

Writing this message reminded me of my first full day on the job. I had Chinese food for lunch and I read my fortune cookie message afterwards. It is a small piece of paper and for entertainment purposes only, but I immediately taped it on my office door so anyone who visits can read it before entering. The message it displayed rang like a bell in my mind and was very appropriate. The message read, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” Until next time.

Earl Thompson is the EMA director of Crenshaw County.