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A Prepared Community is a Safe Community
By Councilmember Tris Samberg

If you were like me, Emergency Preparedness Month came and went with another missed promise to become better prepared. Although City staff members are training to respond to emergency situations (see recent Bothell BRIDGE article, p. 10), responders can be overwhelmed for the first three days and possibly longer. Personal preparedness is essential to surviving a disaster safely and comfortably.

Preparedness consists of three crucial activities:
1 – Make a disaster plan
2 – Make a disaster kit
3 – Know how to stay informed

Brainstorm and discuss possible challenges in the event of a disaster such as power outages, travel disruptions, family members separated at work or school. A disaster plan should include a reunification and communication plan (with an out-of-town contact) and be shared with all family members. Read more about disaster communication plans.

Your disaster kit should include the basics of survival: fresh water (don’t forget pets), food, clean air and warmth. Kits can then be personalized to include items such as medications and infant supplies. As a pharmacist, I recommend collecting an extra month supply of medicines. Some medicines are inexpensive and make this task easy. Expensive medicines can be refilled 3-7 days early each month by insurance, allowing for a gradual accumulation of extra medications. And don’t forget cash in small bills since ATMs may be offline or quickly out of money. Read more about disaster kits.

Imagine having no phones and no internet. How would you get updates on power outages and road closures? Print the locations of community posting boards from the City website now and store with your kit. Sign up for the City’s Facebook and Twitter sites: emergency updates will be posted to the sites and, depending on what technologies are available to you in a disaster, could be a valuable source of information. The website also lists other communication methods such as billboard postings used by the City during an emergency.

I challenge all of us to make progress towards preparedness before disaster strikes. Involve and empower your child. For example, both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have merit badges for disaster preparedness. Give whistles, flashlights and first aid items as stocking stuffers instead of candy. I look forward to hearing your tips and tricks on how you got prepared!

Further resources about disaster preparedness

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