By Troy Carney
Research shows that people who believe they are prepared for disasters often aren’t — 40 percent of survey respondents did not have household plans; 80 percent had not conducted home evacuation drills; and nearly 60 percent did not know their community’s evacuation routes.
Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents reported having a disability that would affect their capacity to respond to an emergency situation, but shockingly only one out of four of them had made arrangements specific to their disability to help them respond safely in the event of an emergency.
Our nation’s emergency managers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs and paramedics, and other emergency responders work to keep us safe but they can’t do it alone. We must all embrace our individual responsibility to be prepared. In doing so, we contribute to the safety and security of the nation, as well.
Becoming more prepared in case of an emergency is easier than you might think. Whether it’s your home, your neighborhood, your place of business or your school, you can take a few simple steps to prepare your community.
— Create a team with your friends and neighbors to share the effort;
— Set outcome-based goals and track your progress to those goals;
— Celebrate your successes together.
Check out the organizations already doing good work — the American Red Cross and Citizens Corps, for example — as well as many faith-based organizations. Many existing service groups have identified community needs and have built the expertise to provide solutions. A few phone calls or scanning a few websites can produce all the information you need to know about your options.
Individuals must take seriously the responsibility of being prepared to survive for three days on their own, to create evacuation and shelter plans for themselves and their families and to get out of harm’s way when necessary.
Citizens must be engaged and educated about what they should expect from their government during emergencies as well as what the government expects from them in the form of advance preparation and responsible action.
Community safety and personal preparedness are vital to the overall preparedness of this country and its ability to withstand and recover from natural disasters, man-made emergencies, economic downturns and terrorist attacks.
Your service matters and should be celebrated. After every event, thank your volunteers and sign them up for the next event. When you help others prepare, ask them to pay it forward by talking to their friends and family about the importance of preparing, training and drills.
Call the Fort Leonard Wood Emergency Management Office at 573.563.5606 for more information about preparing for disasters or to request materials.
(Editor’s note: Carney is the installation emergency manager.)