• Michael Thornton

Creating a basic preparedness plan

Updated: Oct 11


A survey completed in 2009 showed that 50% of the general public were unaware of the warning systems used in their community. 30% of those surveyed expected first responders to meet their needs in the first 72 hours after a man-made or natural disaster impacted their community. The other 70% surveyed said that they relied on family members or neighbors to help in the event of a man-made or natural disaster. However, even with these statistics, the most startling

statistic taken from this survey conducted in 2009 is that over 40% of the general public in the United States believes that a man-made or natural disaster will never strike their community. Unfortunately, that is very untrue. For this reason alone, it’s important to have a preparedness plan in the event of severe weather. MesoSafety focuses on creating preparedness plans related to severe weather

for individuals and businesses. Because of this, we will help you create a basic preparedness plan for when severe weather occurs. First and foremost, when creating a preparedness plan, you must know how you will receive alerts in the event of severe weather. Having more than one way of receiving a warning can reduce the risk of you not receiving a warning if your primary warning system was to not work. Text-based alerts such as Wireless Emergency Alerts are great, however, they rely on cellular data, and during severe weather, cellular data can become nonexistent if straight-line winds or a

tornado destroys the cell towers that your phone relies on. This can cause you to become uninformed. A way to mitigate this is to buy a NOAA Weather Radio, especially one that is battery-operated or a hand-crank. This is because a weather radio does not rely on cell towers to be able to transmit. This means that when you lose cell reception because of severe weather, you will still be able to receive information during the event. Another effective way of receiving alerts before and during severe weather is by

tuning into your favorite local news station before and during severe weather events. Broadcast Meteorologists can provide you with down to the second valuable information during severe weather events. In the event that you are driving, be sure to have a list of radio stations that play Broadcast Meteorologists over the air during severe weather. If you use social media quite a bit, you may want to follow your local National Weather Service forecast office. The National Weather Service provides informative and extremely valuable information before, during, and after severe

weather events. Consider also following your county and state Emergency Management agencies as they can provide valuable information about severe weather before, during, and after an event has occurred. Another great way to receive information about severe weather may also come from your family or friends. When creating a preparedness plan, you must know where you will shelter during severe weather. If you live in a structure that is not anchored to the ground like a mobile home, you must have

an evacuation plan. Straight-line winds as low as 60mph can completely destroy an

unanchored mobile home or house. If you must create an evacuation plan, your evacuation plan needs to include you leaving your mobile home or unanchored home for a mass care shelter, your place of work, or a family/friends storm shelter or home for shelter. The structure that you choose to evacuate to must be either underground or anchored to the ground and sturdy. This way it maximizes your chance of being safe

during severe weather. When creating a preparedness plan, you need to have an EPK (Emergency Preparedness Kit). Your EPK should include the following: One gallon of water per person (use for drinking water and sanitation), a minimum of a 3-day supply of non-perishable food, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA Weather Radio (useful during power outages), first aid kit (Make sure it can handle trauma situations), extra batteries, whistle (To signal for help), dust mask (For protection against

harmful air particles after a disaster has occurred), duct tape, a wrench and pliers to turn off electrical and gas utilities, local maps of your town, multiple power banks (For use during extended power outages), helmet (useful for protecting your head during a disaster), sturdy shoes (in the event that damage occurs, you will want shoes that can withstand nail impacts or glass.), long sleeve clothing, gloves, and battery-powered lanterns. Finally, you must have a communication network in place in the event

that a disaster strikes your community. You should have more than 3 Out-Of-Town contacts in your plan. This is important because after a disaster occurs cellular data will be overloaded, meaning that you will be unable to contact your loved ones who live nearby. However, you will be able to call people in a different part of the state or even out of state as it’s not using the same communication lines. If you have family

members that live in your house or roommates you need to have a place that you intend on meeting each other at after a disaster has occurred. Make sure that you write down important information in the event that a disaster occurs. This should include medical, billing, and important family information. Make sure that your driver's license is up-to-date with your current address. This is important because if a disaster strikes and you do not have the correct address, authorities will not let you near your place of residence until proper identification can be shown.

About the writer: Michael Thornton graduated from Rose State College majoring in Emergency Management. Currently, he is the Assistant Director at Latimer County Emergency Management and is an Oklahoma Emergency Management Association member.

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