May 2, 2011
Summer is the prime time for vacations, camping trips, weekend hikes, and walks to the park with families and friends. It is also a common season for wildfires, hurricanes, power outages, and other natural and man made disasters. While it is great to enjoy all of summer's numerous benefits, it is important to remember that emergencies can happen.
According to a 2009 analysis of responses to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 78 percent of participants felt prepared for a disaster, but only 45 percent were objectively prepared by meeting at least 5 of 6 preparedness standards designated in the study. These standards included having a flashlight, battery-operated radio, a written emergency disaster plan, and 3-day supply of water, food and medications.
The study found that many American households may be unaware that they are not fully prepared for emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends three simple steps to ensure that your home is ready to deal with an emergency.
- Get a kit: Prepare an emergency response kit with basic provisions, including 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, a 3-day supply of non-perishable food (and a can-opener, if needed), a 3-day supply of needed medications, first aid kit, flashlight, battery-operated radio, extra batteries, a whistle, dust mask, local maps, and moist towelettes. Be sure to restock these provisions as needed. For additional recommendations related to specific emergencies, visit www.ready.gov.
- Write an emergency disaster plan: Identify escape routes, safe spots, and meeting places in your home, neighborhood, and community; teach family members how and when to turn off appropriate appliances; and identify an out-of-town family contact. Most importantly, practice the plan periodically.
- Be informed: Investigate potential emergencies in your community, both natural and man made. Learn about your state and local emergency plans and follow appropriate instructions assigned by emergency management authorities.
Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.
When you go on outdoor or on-the-road excursions this summer, be sure to pack appropriate emergency provisions, including a first aid kit, flashlight, matches, knife, compass, mirror or whistle, solar blanket/extra clothing, water and non-perishable food items.
According to Jonathan Links, PhD, director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness, “preparedness can't be a last minute activity.” Take this Monday to get re-acquainted with your household's emergency preparedness plans.
For assistance preparing a family preparedness kit, visit the American Red Cross at http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/lifeline/fakit.html.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.ready.gov and http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/.