Community urged to be prepared
This month is National Preparedness Month and also the kickoff of the Be Ready Iowa campaign.
Larry Smith, Emergency Management coordinator of Washington and Keokuk counties, said it is really important for families to get a plan together in case of disaster.
“We’re not trying to teach everybody to be a doomsday prepper,” Smith said. “They just need to have a plan to be ready when something happens.”
He said everyone is affected differently when something happens. One example he gave were the flash floods from this past spring.
“This past spring there were the flash floods where people who didn’t live close to a river were affected,” Smith said. “They had water in their basement and sewage backup.”
There were several other events Smith listed, such as the ice storm from about four years ago, and the tornado that landed near Crawfordsville a year ago.
Some farmers lost crops due to wind damage from the tornado and farming equipment, Smith said. Homes also had damage from the tornado. He said even though it only affected a small number of people, they were still affected by the tornado.
This is why Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management has teamed up with Safeguard Iowa Partnership (SIP) and Iowa Emergency Management Association (IEMA) to try to promote Iowa residents to have a plan in place, Smith said. There is a Web site, <www.beready.iowa.gov,> Iowa residents can visit to create an emergency plan.
The Web site lists tips for developing a plan and checklists for emergency kits. Smith said everyone should visit the Web site and residents should use it as a guide.
“It’s very helpful,” Smith said. “People could spend hours reading through the information on the Web site.”
One tip Smith has for someone making a communication plan is to write down phone numbers.
“Nowadays people don’t write down phone numbers,” Smith said. “Many have cell phones with names on their phone but don’t know the numbers. It is important for you to have those phone numbers written down somewhere. If you lose your phone, then you don’t know who to call.”
Another tip he has is establishing a designated contact person out of town. They can notify other family members you’re OK, instead of having everyone trying to call you and get a busy signal.
Smith urges everyone to look at what items need to be in an emergency kit.
“The biggest item to have in your emergency kit is water,” Smith said. “We tell people to have one gallon of water per day per family member.”
There should also be enough non-perishable food in the kit to feed a family for a couple of days, Smith said.