As the nation recognizes September as National Preparedness Month, the Department of Public Safety along with the Office of Homeland Security and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) urge businesses and families to prepare for a disaster before it occurs.
"Every Missourian has an obligation to ensure their loved ones are prepared for an emergency," said Paul Fennewald, homeland security coordinator. "The difference between becoming a disaster survivor or a victim can hinge on simple things such as an emergency plan, a disaster kit, a 10-day supply of emergency food and water, and helping others by volunteering in their community."
This spring's severe weather, tornadoes, and July power outages highlighted the necessity for Missourians to have a 10-14 day supply of emergency food and water. Rather that spending a lot of money all at once, individuals can set up their stockpile gradually over a period of time by purchasing additional non-perishable food and water every trip to the grocery stores. They can also keep their emergency supply of food fresh by routinely rotating it with their regular food supply that they use on a daily basis.
Examples of how to write a family disaster plan, create a kit and where to seek emergency information is available at http://ready.missouri.gov/. Local emergency management officials offer Missourians numerous volunteering opportunities with the goal of protecting citizens before and after a disaster.
"One of the easiest ways to protect your family or business is to purchase insurance. Flooding and earthquakes are two of Missouri's biggest natural hazards. They are not covered by homeowner or business insurance. Talk with your insurance agent about getting additional coverage for each of these disasters," said Ron M. Reynolds, SEMA director.
Purchase a NOAA tone alert weather radio to receive advanced weather information is another wise choice in getting prepared. In Caruthersville, the emergency management officials used the NOAA Weather Radios to issue life safety information after the April 3 tornadoes. The radios are available at electronic stores, retail discount stores and often from grocery stores during the spring severe weather season.
One of the most crucial elements of local disaster response and recovery are local volunteers. Many local volunteers work with the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or one of the many faith based disaster volunteer organizations. Other programs volunteers can explore are local Citizen Councils, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS), Neighborhood Watch, Fire Corps and Medical Reserve Corps.
Missouri has 57 Citizen Councils (20 city-based and 37 county-based). There are 138 CERT Programs covering 74 Missouri counties including the city of State Louis. Over 5,250 Missourians have taken a CERT class. The CERT program gives citizens preparedness skills such as fire suppression, crimping and leverage, light search and rescue and how to stop bleeding. Missouri has five Medical Reserve Teams.