Emergency Preparedness Meeting Overview

Emergency Preparedness

For our October meeting this year, we hosted Mel Shiels, Upper Macungie CERT Team Leader, and Tanya Hook from Lehigh County EMA, who educated us on how to be prepared in the case of an emergency. It was a fantastic class where we learned what kind of emergency kits to pack, creating an emergency plan, becoming part of the CodeRed program, and more! Here is some of what we learned!

They began by reviewing cases of emergencies that have occurred in our area, such as fires, hurricanes, flooding, winter storms, etc. These examples showed how those involved had very little time to gather items necessary. Mel and Tonya gave each attendee a copy of the Pennsylvania Emergency Preparedness Guide which can also be found online here

The first kit that they taught us about is the Home Emergency Kit. There is a checklist available on pages 7-9 in the guide. They recommend having these items stocked and stored in your home in the case of an emergency. Some of those items include bottled water, food, battery-powered radio and extra batteries, flashlights, first aid kit, extra clothes and much more. Here are some of their recommendations regarding the home emergency kit.
-Check the contents every six months, consume the food and water items, and replace those items with new items.
-Store batteries separate from the electronics so the batteries do not drain
-Purchase a 4-in-1 Emergency Tool such as this one and keep next to the item that would need to be turned off in the case of an emergency, i.e., gas pump, water shut off valve Click Here
-Place in a waterproof container or bag – Cash in small bills, credit card, copies (not originals) of important items such as recent family photos, health insurance cards, birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, homeowner and car insurance policies
-Rain Ponchos
-Mylar Blankets – come wrapped in a small package which is nice for putting in a kit without taking up too much room
-Flashlights with glowsticks and whistle on a lanyard to wear around your neck. Get a different color for each person in your family in case you get separated, then if there’s smoke or it’s nighttime, you can spot someone easier and know who it is. Here is an example of one. Click Here
-One-week minimum supply of prescription drugs – they recommend refilling your prescription a few days to a week before your current one runs out. They say this is typically covered under your insurance, therefore, you can build up a week’s worth for the emergency kit. Make sure you are checking often and replacing with newer prescriptions and using up the older ones so you never have outdated prescriptions in your kit.

We also learned about creating a Vehicle Emergency Kit. See page 10 in the guide. They recommend keeping extra socks and hats along with winter accessories in the car in case you get stranded in a snow storm. It is also a good idea to have a mylar blanket and lanyard glow stick for each person in the car.

Mel and Tonya instructed us about having a Work Emergency Kit as well. See page 11 in the guide for this checklist.

Emergency Contact List and Emergency Plan. See pages 21-23. What if there is a fire in your house? Does everyone, including your children, know what the sound of the fire alarm means, what it sounds like, and where to go? Once you’re outside, does everyone know where to meet? Test your fire alarms monthly, with your children present, and practice your evacuation plan. Choose an outside location where you will all meet in case you get split up. This is a great example of how having a glowstick lanyard can aid in finding one another.

A few other suggestions to keep in mind:
-As this may seem overwhelming, do not try to go out and buy every item on the list right away. Buy a few items at a time as you build your emergency kits.
-Designate a friend or family member who lives out of state who will be your contact person in case of emergency. Make sure they know you have designated them as this. Sometimes, during an emergency situation, it is harder to make calls to someone inside of the state than it is someone outside of the state. If you and any other family members in the state call the same relative outside of the state, your call will go through easier and that person can update everyone else on their statuses.
-If you have to turn off the gas to your house, you MUST have your gas company come out to turn it back on.
-Sinkhole coverage – covers repair of the home and the filling of the holes
-Fire alarms – one per floor of the house AS WELL AS one per bedroom. Some are Bluetooth and can communicate with one another.
-Find out your child’s school emergency plan. If they have to evacuate and you need to pick up your child, how will they contact you and where will you go to find your child?
-Grab & Go Safety Tube Kit – Keep one at home, work and in the car. Here is an example of one. Click Here
-Get a NOAA radio, one for home and one for work. It will alarm you if there are any weather emergencies in the area so you can get to a lower level if necessary.
-Last but certainly not least – SIGN UP FOR THE CodeRED Program!!!! This is a REVERSE 911 system that will alert you if there is an emergency of any kind in your area of which you need to be aware. If you need to evacuate your house or you need to shelter in place, this system will alert you right away! Create an account and enter your home address, your work address and any other address that you frequent. Then if you move or change jobs, you can sign in and update the address on file. Sign up based on the county in which you live. Here is the link for the Lehigh County CodeRED website. Click Here

Contact info for Mel and Tonya if you have any questions.
Mel Shiels – Allentown Health Bureau
Tanya Hook – Lehigh County EMA

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