Do you and your family know what to do in an emergency of a disaster? Do you have a plan to meet as a specific location, if for some reason your family becomes separated? Do you have a disaster preparedness kit ready to go? These are all important questions, but how many of them can we answer yes to?
Every threat, from wind storms, floods to power outages reminds us to be proactive when it comes to planning strategies to survive a disaster and recover quickly.
The catastrophic events of the last several months in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas alone, demonstrates the need for preparedness at the individual level to diminish the risk of life and property.
On Feb. 5, an EF-4 tornado tore through Sharp County. More than 30 homes were lost and 21 businesses were destroyed. More than 20 homes received severe damage and 26 homes received minor damage. Seventeen businesses had major damage with 14 businesses receiving minor damage.
Many communities in the area have storm sirens and will alert area residents when dangerous weather is threatening. People that live in areas where there are no storm sirens should always keep an eye to the sky and have a place already secured to go to when high winds, flooding or other weather related activity occurs.
* A weather alert radio: Emergency officials say a basement is always the best place to be when severe weather is threatening. If there is no basement available the bath tub or the slowest place in the home is where a family or individual should get before the storm hits. Emergency officials said they have seen more than once people who think they have plenty of time to seek shelter and the storm is upon them before they can reach needed shelter.
Anyone living in a mobile home should evacuate the home if high winds are a threat during a storm.
Here are some tips for disaster preparedness for home owners and businesses.
* A solid emergency response plan: Find evacuation routes from the home or business and establish meeting places. Make sure everyone understands the plan beforehand. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees.
* Disaster preparedness: Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage, at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is and what is not covered.
* Making copies of important records: It's a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives and store that information at a distant offsite location. Computer data should be backed up routinely. Copies of important documents and CDs should be stored in fire-proof safe deposit boxes offsite.
* Protection of windows, doors and roofing: Install impact-resistant window and door systems. Hire a professional to evaluate your roof to make sure it can weather a major wind storm.
* A disaster preparedness kit: The kit should include a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, non-perishable packaged, canned food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic bags, cash and a disposable camera to take pictures of the property damage after the storm.
Many in the area have applied for emergency assistance due to recent natural disasters.
Emergency officials said not to despair if you receive a letter from FEMA stating you have been denied for disaster assistance. It may be that FEMA cannot complete the assistance evaluation process until more information has been supplied.
An applicant may be denied assistance for various reasons including insufficient storm-related damage or adequate insurance coverage. Remember the first letter may not be the last word. More than likely if denied by FEMA they will recommend where one can go to receive the help needed.