Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Statesman Journal OEM column June 24

June 24, 2009
It's important to be prepared.

All areas are vulnerable to any type of disaster.

The recent thunderstorms and tornado watch was another disaster preparedness wake-up call. Will we pay attention? Will we be ready to care for ourselves when the power goes out and the roads are closed?

It is sometimes difficult for people to understand the importance of being prepared for disasters even though we wouldn't think of living in a home without a smoke detector.
Here are four statements I hear regularly — did any of these come from you?

"If something happens, all I have to do is call 911" — during a major disaster, help is limited and can only get there so fast. Roads often are blocked.

"All I need is a 72-hour kit with a flashlight, some food and water and a radio" — 72 hours is the minimal amount of time you need to be self-sufficient. Two or more weeks would be better.

"Good preparedness is too expensive and too complicated" — If you can't afford to purchase a ready-made kit, purchase one or two items each week with your regular grocery shopping.

"Nothing really bad ever happens here" — You may have noticed that in the past few years, Oregon has had more and more disasters. No area is immune. Consider the possibilities of flood, earthquake, chemical spill, school shooting, thunderstorms, terrorist attack, snow storm, landslides, etc. Any of these could cause you to be isolated at home for several days.

Remember, there will always be someone needier than you and the more prepared you are, the more you free up resources so they can help those less fortunate.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the Public Affairs Coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294, or Additional Facts

Learn more
Send questions about emergency preparedness to be answered in this column to Other information may be found at www.oregon. gov/omd/oem or

Myth number 2

"All I need is a 72 hour hit with a flashlight, first aid kit, some food and water, and a radio"

The 72 hour figure is a good minimum but in some situations may not be realistic. A more practical goal is to be self-sufficient for a minimum of 2 weeks. Why 2 weeks? As bad a Katrina was, there are numerous disaster and terrorism scenarios that could see substantially more damage and a disruption of local service for several weeks. Also, many biological scenarios may see a 2-week quarantine. Regarding supplies and equipment, be sure to customize your kit to your family's uniques needs.