Pandemic shows need for emergency preparedness

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If high winds and ice take out the power, if flooding makes roads impassable, are you ready to ride out the storm regardless if it’s natural or man-made, expected or unexpected?

“We’ve already had some civil unrest earlier this year, which obviously has impacted our community. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, as we’re sitting here wearing masks,” said Allison Farole, Grand Rapids Emergency Management Administrator.

September is National Preparedness Month, which was born in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It’s the time of year to make sure your emergency supply kit is up to date.

The pandemic has brought a new emphasis on being prepared for emergencies.

A few items in a go-bag, one you can store those supplies in or easily pick up and leave if you’re evacuated, can be a big help.

“It’s more of always being ready for the unknowns and the potential emergencies and disasters,” Farole said.

Farole says your go-kit should contain the obvious things you might need, like water, medications and a portable radio.

There are also things you may not have considered like pet supplies — and not just food either.

“We take a lot of selfies with our animals. We take a lot of pictures with our animals,” Farole said. “Print some out one day and throw them in your kit, in case you ever get separated from you’re a dog or your cat and you can prove that’s your animal.”

What if cell service goes out?

Another item to add to the bag is an old fashion, plug into the wall, telephone.

“If you have a phone jack already set up in your house, but you may not have a landline plan, it’s fine. Most of the time you should be able to pull this out, if all else fails, plug it into the phone jack, and you should still be able to call 911,” Farole said.

Preparing for the disasters is a four-step process, starting with knowing the hazards that may impact you, how to stay safe when those hazards occur, building emergency kits and a plan to deal with the problem and finding ways to help in the aftermath.

And as the pandemic continues, so have natural disasters like Hurricane Laura.

Now think about the need to evacuate to a shelter and add a few more items to the kit.

“Extra masks in your go-kit, having hand sanitizer. If you’re able to find sanitizing wipes and Lysol spray,” Farole said.

Farole says the pandemic has become an unwelcome reminder of the need to prepare.

“2020 has been an adventure in itself,” Farole said. “We’ve had a lot of stuff going on, definitely. This pandemic has really made us focus on kind of how everybody can be impacted by an emergency.”

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