September is National Preparedness Month.
You’ll read about the unique way in which our Albany County officials are promoting being ready in the event of disaster on the front page. The cook-off between Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple was certainly a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it carries a serious message.
It’s one that we’re reminded of from time to time. Here in the Capital District, it was only two years ago that Tropical Storm Irene swept through the area, opening wounds with high winds and flooding that in some areas are still healing. A year later, Downstate, Hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City and surrounding environs.
In those events, we were warned well ahead of time of the storm’s impending arrival, giving everyone opportunity to clear grocery shelves of canned goods and bottled water. But Mother Nature is not always so thoughtful, a lesson highlighted recently on the other side of the country, in Colorado. There, sudden flooding brought on by heavy rains forced thousands to evacuate or be rescued, destroyed thousands of homes, cut off towns for days and killed a handful. Earlier this year, Oklahoma saw some of the most devastating tornadoes in recent memory.
It is these types of tragedies that should compel every family to assemble an emergency preparedness kit. It only takes a few hours and some thought, but it could be worth its weight in gold in the right (wrong) situation. Materials in a proper kit include drinking water, nonperishable foods, medical supplies, a crank-operated radio, flashlight, first-aid supplies, local maps and a wrench to turn off utilities. You can log on to ready.gov for a full list of suggestions.
Perhaps equally important is an evacuation plan that the entire family knows – where to meet up, how to get in touch with one another (hint: telephone numbers stored in your cell phone won’t do much good if it’s damaged or drained) and important information like Social Security numbers and medical information for each family member. Don’t forget to include pets in this plan. Pets are often not allowed in shelters. During Hurricane Katrina, for example, some refused rescue efforts rather than leave a pet, and other animals were abandoned by owners who had no choice. Neither scenario is ideal – it is better to try to include shelter and care for pets in any emergency preparedness plan.
The idea behind National Preparedness Month is to emphasize that the time to act is now, not when a true emergency is at your doorstep. We urge our readers to make a visit to ready.gov and take the precious few minutes that it takes to get prepared. Because if disaster does strike, you want to make sure the thought of canned fish on a pizza is the most serious problem you face.