Chuck Magaha is the director of Leavenworth County Emergency Management. September is National Preparedness Month, and Gov. Sam Brownback has declared it Kansas Preparedness Month.
1 The Governor has declared September "Kansas Preparedness Month." What are some basic things a person can do to prepare for emergencies?
Four steps you should follow:
1.Build an emergency kit: The emergency kit should include the basics for survival up to 72 hours, fresh water, food, clean air and controlled elements. You should have enough supplies to maintain your family’s comfort for at least three days.
2. Make a plan: Sit down with your family, co-workers and employees and ask the what ifs with each other. Discuss how you will be contacting each other, where you should meet if separated and what you will do in different situations. This is for not only families but for the work place, schools, day cares, to name a few.
3. Be informed: Being prepared means being informed; check all types of media, websites, TV, mobile and land phones. The local Emergency Management office will provide information of what shelters may be open and evacuation orders if the emergency deems necessary.
4. Get involved: Look into taking first aid, getting emergency response training and learn how you can be involved in community exercises. Volunteer to support you community’s first responders.
2 In times of disasters, what's the most important thing to remember?
The most important thing to remember is don’t panic; work with your instincts of what you feel is right. Stay calm and others around you will follow. In a disaster you need to look after you and your family then assist others when you can. Know your situational awareness at all times; disaster may change with little or no warning.
3 What are some of the important things people may not think about when preparing for emergencies?
In major disasters cell phones just may not work. We rely on the cellular, cable and phone networks very heavily in today’s lifestyle; they may and more than likely will fail in some sort of fashion during a major disaster. You might consider having another means of communication ability; amateur radio operation is a great hobby and is an excellent resource in communications. The first responders just might not be able to reach you when you are in need of help; response calls will be numerous and over burden the first responder community quickly and for a long time, hours and in some cases days. In Leavenworth County we have 16 different hazards we plan for other than the obvious tornados, fire and floods that you need to be prepared for as well: earthquakes, winter storms, drought emergencies, hazardous material events and many more. Do you know that in the event of a hazardous material event we might ask you to stay inside and shelter in place rather than evacuate? Preparing for a shelter in place is an event we all must learn to do in preparing for disasters.
Page 2 of 2 - 4 What is Leavenworth County Emergency Management's role in times of disasters?
Emergency Management is normally a "behind the scenes" type of operation as opposed to the very public response by police, fire, ambulance and public utility services. During a disaster, Emergency Management personnel will be involved in emergency operations, but normally in a coordination role. Emergency Management is a continuous cycle of preparedness-mitigation-response-recovery. Elected and appointed government officials all play important roles in the Emergency Operation Plan for our county. Service and support agencies also play important roles. Emergency Management brings these diverse backgrounds and roles together to assure that the best possible information is shared with our communities and speak in one voice.
We also serve as a liaison with state and federal emergency agencies to get you the citizen the information and assistance as needed.
5 Where can people find more information about emergency preparedness?
There are many websites for people to obtain information on preparedness: The American Red Cross www.redcross.org, The Salvation Army, www.salvationarmyusa.org, FEMA preparedness at www.ready.gov and the local Emergency Managers of Kansas City Metro area at www.preparemetro.gov. Please don’t forget to check with your faith based organization which also has valuable information to share during a disaster. All of these sites will give you the needed knowledge of being prepared whether it is family, school or the work place. I would end the questions with the following. We can reach out to the general public to ask you to become prepared for a disaster, but until you get prepared it will very difficult for the emergency management community to be prepared. I challenge you all to take preparedness month serious and get prepared.