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September 17, 2014

September is National Preparedness Month: Be disaster aware, take action to prepare

By Debbie Boyce

Three years ago Tropical Storm Irene presented many Vermonters with a challenge not many had ever experienced. Irene and other damaging storms show us the importance of being ready for anything. Vermont is susceptible to a number of disasters: floods, blizzards, chemical spills, cyber-attack, pandemic, and other events. The best way to mitigate the impact of those incidents is to simply be ready.

September is Preparedness Month in Vermont and nationwide. It’s a time to figure out what you need to do ahead of time to ensure the safety of your family should an incident occur close to home or interrupt life in another way.

Information is your greatest tool in any disaster or weather event. Vermont Alert allows you to receive weather, transportation, or other incident updates via text, email, or phone for the areas where you live and work. You select what alerts you want and the areas for which the alerts are issued.  Visit http://users.vtalert.gov to sign up for a free account.

Weather events often impede your ability to get to the store and having some canned goods and other necessities on hand could allow you to wait it out for a day or two before braving the conditions. Being properly prepared will allow you to stay safe inside without having to drive to buy necessities during a storm.

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security encourages people to have a disaster “go-kit”. Identify an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can. Include “special needs” items for any member of your household (infant formula, etc.), first aid supplies (including prescription medications), a change of clothing for each person, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each person, flashlights, a battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries, food, bottled water and tools. Include some cash and copies of important family documents (birth certificates, passports and licenses) in your kit. Don’t forget pet food if you have pets. They recommend two days water for each person in your home. Include whatever else you may need if you are homebound without power for a couple of days.

For more information visit http://vem.vermont.gov/preparedness.

Debbie Boyce is the Rutland County MRC/ Non-MRC coordinator. MRCs are a network of local groups of volunteers committed to helping improve the health, safety and resiliency of their communities.

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