September is National Preparedness Month

The Red River breaks its banks during the 2009 flood in Wahpeton and Breckenridge.

September is National Preparedness Month and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging individuals to learn about disasters that could potentially affect their areas and learn how to best prepare for them.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires and flooding throughout the country highlight the need to prepare yourself and your loved ones for disasters that could happen anywhere and at any time,” stated Kevin M. Sligh, acting regional administrator, FEMA Region 5. “This year’s theme is ‘Prepare to Protect,’ which is a reminder that the best way to help your household and community recover from a disaster is by taking steps to prepare yourself and your family before disaster strikes.”

National Preparedness Month has taken on a different tone this year as areas of the U.S. and globe are ravaged by flooding, hurricanes, wildfires and the pandemic. President Biden released a proclamation stating disaster preparation is essential for the country’s continued strength and resilience.

“During the past year, natural disasters have sent our communities into turmoil, and we have seen the particularly devastating toll they take on disadvantaged, low-income communities and people of color,” the proclamation stated.

In week one of National Preparedness Month, FEMA suggested individuals make an emergency plan by talking to their friends and family about how they will communicate before, during and after a disaster.

Week two of National Preparedness Month focuses on making an emergency supply kit. This includes:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

The third week of National Preparedness Month asks individuals to prepare for disasters by signing up for area emergency alerts, ordering free preparedness materials from FEMA’s online ordering platform and familiarizing themselves with the “Are you ready?” guide, which details every kind of disaster and what someone should do.

The final week of National Preparedness Month focuses on educating youth on how to prepare for disasters and emergencies.

To prepare for disaster, Individuals should also consult with an insurance representative to review their current coverage, take video of their belongings in case an inventory of items lost is needed, and save for emergencies — three to six months’ worth of expenses is ideal.

Disasters that could affect the Twin Towns Area include flooding; thunderstorm, lightning and hail; tornado; winter storm; power outage; active shooter; cyberattack; extreme heat; and pandemics. Most commonly, flooding and winter storms can wreak havoc on Richland and Wilkin counties.

During a flood, individuals should turn around when they come across a flooded roadway. Six inches of flowing water can lift someone off their feet and 12-inches of flowing water can lift a small vehicle. If trapped in a building, individuals should move to the top floor, but should not wait it out in an attic as they may become trapped.

In the event of a winter storm, individuals should ensure their emergency preparedness kits include blankets and warm clothing, create an emergency supply kit for their vehicles, avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from generators or gas stovetops and ovens, limit time outside and take refuge with friends or neighbors in the event of a power outage that lasts more than a few hours.

Stay safe, Twin Towns.

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