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30 Days 30 Ways

30 Days, 30 Ways
2020 Edition


This is a compilation of this year’s tips and tricks that we posted in honor of National Preparedness Month for the 30 Days – 30 Ways Challenge:


Create your Family Disaster Plan:
Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disasters. Explain the dangers of fire and severe weather to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Keep it simple enough so family members can remember all the details. This is important because the high stress of a disaster can help create confusion. Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing disasters ahead of time will help reduce fear and anxiety and will help everyone know how to respond. Remember to review your plans periodically.


Meeting Place: Identify two locations to rendezvous in case of an emergency (Primary and Alternate): You want these locations to be near your home in the event you are unable to access your home. Choose a site that offers refreshments and seating in case family members must wait for everyone to arrive. Everyone must know the address and phone number of the meeting locations.


Emergency Communication Plan: Develop an emergency communication plan in the event family members are separated from one another during a disaster and have a plan to reunite. Family members often spend their days apart so having this plan in place will ensure that everyone will be able to come together. Memorize family phone numbers in case yours gets lost or damaged. Identify an out-of-town relative or friend to be your contact. This person should live outside of your area. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long-distance call than a local call. Family members should call this contact and tell him or her where they are. Everyone should know the contact’s name, address, and phone number.


Escape Routes: Identify and be familiar with escape routes. These routes could be in your home, work, or community in the event of fire, flooding, etc. Depending on the type of disaster, it may be necessary to evacuate your home. Plan primary and alternate escape routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed. Remember to follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will direct you to the safest route; some roads may be blocked so don’t go around the barricades for your safety. The best thing as you try to navigate this stressful time is to KEEP CALM.
Pets: Do not forget to prepare an emergency plan for your pets. Pets, other than service animals are usually not permitted in places where food is served due to health department regulations. Plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not allowed. Make sure you have a kennel in addition to a leash and harness. If you have large animals i.e. horses, know how you will evacuate with them and where will you take them for short term and long-term periods of time.


Utilities:
Educate family members on how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches or valves. Review this procedure every 6 months. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. Turn off utilities only if you suspect a leak or damaged lines, or if you are instructed to do so by authorities. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Paint shut-off valves with white or fluorescent paint to increase visibility. Attach a shut-off valve wrench or other special tool in a visible place close to the gas and water shut-off valves.


Insurance: Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Ask your insurance agent to review your current policies to ensure that they will cover your home and belongings adequately. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood losses. If you are a renter, your landlord’s insurance does not protect your personal property; it only protects the building. Renters’ insurance pays if a renter’s property is damaged or stolen. Renters’ insurance can cost less than $15 a month in most areas of the country. Contact your insurance agent for more information.


Smoke Alarms:
Install smoke alarms on each level of your home near bedrooms. With all the petroleum-based products in households, residents only have an average of 5 minutes to escape a fire. Working smoke alarms increase your chances of survival in a home fire by 50%. Smoke alarms sense abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gases in the air. They can detect both smoldering and flaming fires. Many areas are now requiring hard-wired smoke alarms in new homes. If you live in an apartment complex, double check that your unit has smoke alarms. It is required that landlords have working smoke alarms in the units they rent out.


Fire Extinguishers: There is no time to read directions during an emergency!! Check with your local fire department to see if they provide training on how to use your fire extinguisher (A-B-C types) and ensure that all family members know where the extinguishers are kept. Different extinguishers operate in different ways. Only adults should handle and operate extinguishers. Most fire departments are more than willing to come out to their local neighborhoods or associations to discuss fire safety when requested.


Home Hazard Hunt:
Conduct a home hazard hunt. What is a home hazard hunt you ask? Well, during a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, during a tornado, a water heater, a bookshelf which could turn over, or hanging objects that could fall and hurt someone are home hazards. There are electrical, chemical, and fire hazards, so go hunt for these and make your home safer. Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards. Some of them may be very surprising. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.
Disaster Supply Kit: Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supply Kit. Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days (water, food, medications, etc.) ... Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, clearly labeled, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks, duffel bags, etc. In an evacuation, you may not have time to pack and time is not your friend. Having this ready to grab and go could make all the difference. Check out the Disaster Center's recommended supplies. They have everything from supplies needed to how to build a makeshift toilet. So, lots of good info!


Home Safety Checklist:
Today is the day to complete an at home safety checklist. Inspect your home at minimum, once a year and fix potential safety hazards. Look for frayed wires on your appliances and electrical devices. Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Ensure that the areas where you cook and burn candles are neat and clean, and that your evacuation routes are clear and your home’s heating system is safe. If you think this is silly, just remember, you’ve worked hard for that roof over your head. Do not allow a preventable accident to be the reason you need a new roof over your head.


Supply Kit: Keep a small Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of your car. If you become stranded or unable to return home, having these items will keep you comfortable. It can be in a duffel bag, tote, or any container that can hold up to the extreme Texas weather.
Check out http://www.disastercenter.com/guide/kit.html for tips and tricks on how to prepare your kit!
Radio: Keep a portable, battery-operated radio or television and extra batteries. Maintaining a communications link with the outside is a step that can mean the difference between life and death. Make sure that all family members know where the portable, battery-operated radio or television is located. Always keep a supply of extra batteries and make sure all family members know where these are located too.


Shelter-in-Place:
Be Prepared for a Shelter-in place. “Shelter-in-place” may be required if authorities want you to remain at home due to a natural disaster or chemical/radiological contaminants are released into the environment. It may also require you to “Seal the room” to prevent outside air from coming in. Visit this site for more information: http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/shelter/


Warn Central Texas:
Ignorance is not always bliss, especially when it comes to potential dangers around you and your family. Through https://warncentraltexas.org/, the county utilizes a platform called Everbridge to send out alerts through phone, text and email, to keep you apprised of hazards in real time. This free service allows us to keep you in the loop when information is vital. Click on https://member.everbridge.net/892807736729515/login to register or update your existing account at the bottom of the link’s page.


Containers:
Choose a Container for holding your kit supplies for any Emergency scenario. Since we never know where we will be when an emergency occurs, prepare a kit for your home, work and vehicles. Some examples of these containers include plastic tub or box with sealable lid, 5-gallon plastic bucket with a lid, backpack, small to medium size travel bag with wheels, ice chest, tuff box.
Kits for storage of your emergency supplies is limited only by your imagination and space. If you can have a kit in a bag that is easy to carry with a shoulder strap, that is added convenience but not necessary. Go with what you have or what you can get.


Family Communication Plan:
Prepare a family communication plan and rally point in advance. Select a location where you and your family can rally should a disaster prevent you from meeting at your home. Cell towers may be down or overloaded, do not depend on your cell phone for communication in disaster. Look at flood plain map too to make sure your rally point is one that is safe. For more information on a family communication plan visit here:
http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
A free App which may assist and reduce the worry is located here:
https://www.life360.com/


Water: Without water an individual becomes dehydrated which impairs thinking and other key bodily functions. One gallon per person per day is the recommended minimum with a 3-day supply if evacuating, or a 2-week supply for sheltering in place. https://www.ready.gov/water Stock up on sanitation wipes to reduce your need for using water for hygiene. As a back-up, here is five methods to purify water listed in order of best method. 1. Boil (roiling boil) for 1-3 minutes 2. Iodine tablets- follow directions on the bottle 3. Bleach- 8 drops per gallon of water
4. Water purifier- Ensure the product eliminates viruses, protozoa and bacteria (Several choices on the commercial market.) 5. Transpiration bag-you will not have to purify the water but, you may have to filter it of any pollens, insects etc.


Food:
Food. Consider foods that provide high energy, protein and fiber. As you gather your food for your kit, keep nutrition and an extended shelf life as your guide for selection. A manual can opener is a must. It can be a simple p-38 military style opener or something more elaborate as a commercial purchased hand operated opener. Some foods to always keep in your pantry may include: Peanut butter, whole wheat crackers (may substitute for bread and lasts longer), nuts and trail mixes, cereal, granola bars, power bars, dried fruits, canned meats, vegetables and soups. Powdered sports drinks, milk, sugar, salt and pepper. There are several commercial “especially designed for an emergency” food products you can purchase on the open market to include the vast freeze-dried packaged food, jerky and Meals Ready to Eat. http://www.ready.gov/food
Shelter: Shelter. Simply stated, shelter is anything protects you from the elements and allows you to rest and recharge. If you are sheltering-in-place this need is already satisfied however, if you must evacuate then it will be a concern. Your destination plan may include a hotel, bed and breakfast, or home of a friend/relative. Should none these be an option, a nearby campground which offers some comfort amenities such as a shower/bath house may be the solution. It is always a good idea to have this primitive back-up should you have to camp on the way to your destination. Also, remember to pack clothing items which require little maintenance (ironing may not be an option) and plan for inclement weather. Rain jackets, poncho, gloves, hat, sunglasses, warm clothing (should it be cold) and plenty of undergarments. You can get by with wearing the same outfit two days in a row if you can at least change into clean underwear and socks!


Travel: Travel. Most individuals have options when it comes to travel - motorized, biking or walking. For motorized travel check your tire pressure, your belts, hoses and warning lights regularly. Regular maintenance is crucial not only for everyday safety, but also in the case you need to evacuate and travel long distances. The biking and walking version may require a few more preparation items. Bikes can increase your ability to escape a potential hazard since crowded highways can easily be bypassed with a bike. If walking from your residence to a safe zone is your only option, then a good pair of walking boots is essential. A map, compass, pre-determined destination point, and route are also a good idea. If you are not a seasoned hiker, this is not the time to attempt that cross-country tour. Head for the nearest paved road so you are not breaking brush the entire distance. Once again, consider back up destinations and routes. Ensure you have the necessary food and water for the trip, an average person should be able to walk five miles in a day. These methods of travel will limit what you can carry in your backpack or Go Bag.


Communication:
Communication during a disaster is more than just communication with your family. There are several radios on the commercial market which are hand crank, battery, solar powered. This will allow you to keep up with news and vital information during a disaster. Other communication or signaling means may involve identifying your location to first responders using flares, chemical or glow sticks, a signal mirror, flashlight, waving your arms above your head or even a Ground-to-Air signal. For more ideas and information on signaling first responders visit: http://eprep101.com/15signal.html Another Free App which can notify your friends and family where you are and can notify select contacts should you stop moving for more than 5 minutes is Road ID.
http://www.roadid.com/ecrumbs


First AID:
Considerations for a home first aid kit should include materials to treat the following:
Burns, Cuts, Abrasions, Stings, Splinters, Sprains and Strains. A drug store may not be accessible during a disaster so it is a good idea to have items which can alleviate fever, nasal congestion, coughs, and sore throats. Include any maintenance medications you are taking along with items for skin problems, allergies, gastrointestinal problems or mild pain. Ensure insect repellant, lip balm and sunscreen make your list, even during winter months sunscreen is a must! Know how to use all the items in your kit. Storing your items in a water-resistant drop proof container is best. Train others in your family how to use the kit. You can either purchase a ready to use kit commercially or build your own. Here are some sites to visit for first aid kit ideas:
http://www.ready.gov/kit
http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/get-kit/anatomy
The American Red Cross puts expert advice to everyday emergencies in your hand with this app
http://www.redcross.org/mobile-apps/first-aid-app


Children: Speak with your children about emergency preparedness and get them to begin thinking about it in a positive, “can do” attitude. Keep in mind their age and the depth of information that is appropriate. FEMA and The Red Cross have made a coloring book that goes with the topic of preparedness. It is a great ice breaker on the topic. It is also a free book that you can print off following this link. https://www.ready.gov/.../prepare_with_pedro_activity...


Gas: Always maintain at a minimum a half a tank of gas in your vehicle. When disaster strikes, it seldom sends an invitation. A half of a tank of fuel will allow you to proceed far enough out of the danger area to refuel in the event of an evacuation. If power is down or a timely evacuation is crucial, this minimum half talk also prevents you from needing to fill up at pumps that won’t work or compete for a spot to be able to fuel.


Generator:
Consider a generator in the event of a power outage. In order to select the best backup generator for yourself and your family, determine how much power you would need in the event of a blackout. Homes with well-water will need to have the well pump on the generator system if toilets are to be flushed. What could you do without power for a few days? Hot water? Cold food? Check the manufacturer information for each appliance to find out the wattage of your necessary appliances, and then tally their numbers. A portable generator may be your best option if you stay aware of your energy consumption and hold to using the wattage limit of the generator. Depending on the model, portables can generate between 2,500-4,500 watts. By using energy wisely, you'll still be able to comfortably endure a blackout.
Safety to remember: Connecting a portable generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others. A generator that is directly connected to your home's wiring can "back feed" onto the power lines connected to your home and injure neighbors or utility workers. By working with a qualified electrician, you can install a manual transfer switch to safely tie into selected circuits of your main electrical panel. If a portable generator is running and power is restored, the power company's electricity cannot get to those isolated circuits until the generator is turned off and the manual transfer switch is reset to the non-backup position.


Hays County CERT : Join CERT and become an asset to your community and neighbors. Sign up to attend your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training offered by the Hays County Office of Emergency Services at www.hayscountycert.com Individuals trained in CERT learn proper communication, safety, fire suppression, search and rescue, medical triage/treatment/stop the bleed, psychology in disaster, standard response protocol, terrorism identification chemical, biological, radiation, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) weapons deployed and Citizen Response in Active Shooter Events (CRASE). CERT members expand our First Responders capacity and allow First Responders to focus on life threatening events. CERT members are essential in communicating the preparedness message to other residents in the communities during public events and fairs.