In the aftermath of the Palestine, Ohio, toxic train disaster in early February this year and the August 2017 hurricane Harvey tragic incidents, I am providing information to help prepare for disasters and to weather the storm.
Some people don’t take disaster preparedness seriously because they don’t think it will ever happen to them. If it does, they assume there’s nothing they can do about it. The truth is, disasters can happen at anytime, anywhere. The better prepared you are, the better off you will be.
We can’t always prevent disasters, but there are some simple steps everyone can take to help protect ourselves, their families and neighbors, and their property in a disaster.
•Keep emergency supplies on hand at home, at work, and in your vehicle. You should have enough supplies to last for up to two weeks. Even if the disaster passes quickly, you may not be able to get to stores or gas stations, or supplies may be limited because suppliers are unable to deliver to our community.
Keep enough cash on hand because more than likely ATM machines will be inoperable.
•First aid can save lives and reduce suffering in many everyday medical emergencies. In a disaster, first aid skills are especially important. You may not be able to rely on the telephone to summon medical help.
Damaged roadways may prevent you from reaching emergency room help or prevent medical help from reaching you. For information about first aid classes contact the American Red Cross at 800-733-2767, or www.redcross.org or contact one of the many community colleges.
•Learn how to turn off your utilities, because during a disaster if you have a broken gas line, water line or a serious electrical problem, you may need to quickly turn off service to prevent injuries and property damage.
Locate your main electrical fuse box or circuit breaker panel, water service main, the natural gas main, or propane gas line and learn how to turn these utility services off. Make sure all family members know how and are capable of turning off utilities.
Thinking things through before a disaster will save time and reduce panic during an emergency. For example:
•Have a family evacuation plan and practice it.
•Develop a family reunion plan. Get your family together and agree on a meeting place outside your home in case of a fire.
•Make a list of valuable items to take if your home is threatened and you must evacuate quickly.
•Identify places you and other family members can stay if you cannot stay at home.
•Become familiar with the San Jacinto County Shelter Facility at 255 Live Oak in Coldspring. For information about this county facility contact the San Jacinto County Emergency Management team.
•Teach your children how and when to call 911 for emergency help.
•If there are elderly or handicapped people in your home, talk to them about what to do if they are home alone when a disaster strikes.
•If you have pets or livestock, think about how you would care for them during an emergency.
•Find out now what your insurance does and does not cover. Would your insurance policy pay to replace your home and personal property damaged in a fire, flood, tornado, etc.? Would it cover living expenses while your home is being repaired or rebuilt? Remember, this would be a good time to reach out to your insurance company for answers to these important questions.
•After a disaster you may need records for identifications, insurance claims, disaster relief loans or other assistance. Make sure you keep extra copies of important documents in at least two different locations.
•Listen to news and weather reports, as my office works with radio and television stations and newspapers to get emergency warnings and instructions to you as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s important to regularly follow news, weather and traffic reports.
Here is a guide in making a list of emergency supplies to keep at home, at work, and in your vehicle.
•Flashlight and batteries.
•Sleeping bags or blankets, depending on the time of year.
•First aid supplies such as bandages, aspirin, disinfectant, tweezers and Imodium. Make sure you have an adequate supply of doctor-prescribed medications. If you are a diabetic and in need of insulin products pay particular attention to your existing supplies and attempt to have an adequate supply on hand prior to an emergency.
•Special medications or life support equipment needed by you and your family members. (In a power outage: If you and or any of your family members are on life support equipment that requires electricity, immediately reach out to my office so that I can make special arrangements to accommodations those situations.
•Food which doesn’t need to be cooked or refrigerated and doesn’t need added water.
•One gallon per person per day of drinking water, and water for animals.
•Hand-operated can and bottle opener.
•Baby supplies such as formula and diapers.
•Pet supplies such as food, medications, leashes and pet carriers.
•Supplies such as soap, shampoo, a sponge, towels, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, razor, pre moistened towelettes, comb and sanitary napkins.
•Outdoor cooking equipment and supplies.
•Disinfectants, liquid bleach, insect repellent.
•Gasoline and diesel fuel.
This county’s dedicated professional team works in coordination with FEMA, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the DPS and with my office as well.
Should you have any questions regarding emergency management, please feel free to reach out to the Sheriff’s Office or the Office of Emergency Management.
As always, if you have any questions about what I have provided, please feel free to call my office’s non-emergency telephone number at (936) 654-4367 for assistance, or in any emergency immediately call 911.
Greg Capers is Sheriff of San Jacinto County.