Be Prepared for Weather Emergencies
By Rep. John Evans (R-Erie/Crawford)
With all of the major weather disasters that have occurred during the past couple of weeks within Pennsylvania and across the southern portion of the United States, it is always a good idea to make sure you are prepared for emergencies.
The most important plan you can have is a family emergency plan. Disasters, especially weather-related emergencies, can happen at any time, so it is vital for your family to know how to contact one another, how you will get back together and what to do. These emergency plans also are helpful for other types of disasters.
The following guidelines, established by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), are available at its website at ReadyPA.org:
• Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for an emergency. Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen and what to do in each situation. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
• Keep it simple. The best emergency plans are simple enough so that everyone can remember the important details.
• Plan where your family will meet. Meeting places should include locations both near your home (in case of a sudden emergency) and outside of your immediate neighborhood (in case you can’t return home or need to evacuate). Notify caregivers and babysitters about your plan.
• Plan how your family will communicate. Consider asking a relative or friend who lives outside of your area to be your family contact. In a disaster, local telephone service may be disrupted, but long-distance lines are more likely to be open. For this reason, an out-of-town contact may be better able to communicate among separated family members. Everyone should know the contact’s name, address and telephone number.
• Post emergency contact numbers near all telephones. Pre-program emergency numbers into phones that have auto-dial. Teach children how and when to dial 9-1-1 to get emergency assistance.
• Prepare to evacuate your home. If you need to vacate your home, have a plan to get out quickly and safely:
If evacuating, learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main switches. If for any reason you turn off natural gas service to your home, call your gas company to restore service. Do not attempt to restore service yourself.
Also, plan several escape routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed. Remember to follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations.
Don’t forget to ask about emergency plans at places where your family spends time. This could include work, daycare and school.
It is always wise to practice and maintain your plan. Practicing your plan will help you instinctively make the appropriate response during an actual emergency. Review your plan periodically and make changes as needed.
PEMA also recommends preparing an emergency kit that includes a supply of enough food, water and supplies to sustain you and your family a minimum of three days. Because you never know when or where an emergency will occur, you should also consider having a kit ready in your vehicle as well as where you work. You can find a helpful checklist for various types of emergency kits at ReadyPA.org.
John Evans Reports is a weekly editorial from Rep. John Evans, 5th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and published by EdinboroOnline.com in an effort to keep the citizens of the area informed on matters of importance to them. Rep. Evans can be reached for further comment or input at his Edinboro Pa office 814-734-2793, Girard, Pa office 814-774-2892, or his Linesville, PA office 814-683-5550. www.repevans.com