National Preparedness Month encourages residents to be ready for emergencies

Published 8:57 am Thursday, September 8, 2016

Star File Photo During severe weather trees and other items can cause damage to homes creating a need for residents to seek shelter elsewhere.

Star File Photo
During severe weather trees and other items can cause damage to homes creating a need for residents to seek shelter elsewhere.

September is National Preparedness Month and local, state and federal officials are encouraging residents to use this time to take a few steps to help ensure their families are ready should an emergency occur.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency uses its Ready campaign to help educate and empower residents to put some simple measures into place to prepare for and respond to potential emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist attacks. Ready asks individuals to do three key things: get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and the appropriate responses.
Here locally, severe weather such as thunderstorms, ice storms and snow storms are the most common types of emergencies residents face according to Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Smith.
To help keep residents better informed of emergencies such as severe weather, Carter County and the City of Elizabethton partnered last year to contract with Everbridge for a mass notification system that can alert residents in a variety of ways. Everbridge sends out a notification whenever an emergency situation is imminent or is occurring based on the users’ preferences.
Both the Carter County and City of Elizabethton websites offer links for residents to sign up. All a resident needs in order to sign up is a valid email address.
“The Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library can help with folks who don’t have a computer or valid e-mail address,” Smith said.
Once a resident is alerted to an emergency, the next important things are their emergency kit and their family emergency plan.
Some of the basics that FEMA recommends for every emergency kit are: water; non-perishable food; battery-powered or hand-crank radio; NOAA weather radio; flashlight; extra batteries; first aid kit; can opener; a whistle to signal for help; moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation; wrench or pliers to turn off utilities; local maps; a dust mask to filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place. Those who have medical conditions that require a prescription, or have family members that do, should also plan to have medication in their emergency kit.
“The most important thing is to remember that an Emergency Kit is personal — it’s yours and should reflect your needs,” Smith said. “Most people have cellphones now, and that means they’ll need a way to charge it if the power is out. You can purchase relatively inexpensive portable chargers for most phones today at retail stores.”
When building an emergency supply kit, FEMA said it is important for residents to consider where they live and the unique needs of their family. Also, according to FEMA, residents should periodically review their kit to make sure it will still meet their needs in the event of an emergency.
In addition to having supplies ready at home to weather out a storm or shelter in place from an emergency, residents should also make a back up plan in case their communications fail or they need to evacuate their home.
“Other areas that most people don’t think about are alternate communications plans and relocation/meeting plans. If the power is out, cellphones and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones will normally be inoperative or unavailable,” Smith said. “So, it’s important to know other ways to communicate with family members.”
Texting will sometimes work even if actual calls will not go through, Smith said, and traditional landline phones may still be operational even if power is out in an area.
“As for relocations plans, each family needs to decide several locations where they can meet following a disaster to ensure that they can reconnect with family members,” Smith said. “The locations should be spread out to provide alternatives if the primary meeting area is in the damaged/destroyed area.”
To help residents make their emergency plan, Smith recommended they visit to get some helpful tips. For ideas and recommendations of items to include in an emergency kit, visit

Graphic courtesy of FEMA

Graphic courtesy of FEMA

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