State urges preparation, planning for disasters

State urges preparation, planning for disasters
Nashville – The historic flooding Tennessee has endured this year serves as a stark reminder that everyone needs to stay prepared. Recognizing September as National Preparedness Month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) are urging residents to create an emergency supply kit.
“It takes time to get state and federal resources mobilized following a disaster,” says Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech.
“Tennesseans must be ready to care for themselves until help arrives. We’re encouraging everyone to get a kit, make a plan and be informed.”
Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days. Evacuation may also become necessary at a moment’s notice. It’s vital that everyone have emergency supplies close at hand.
“We’re recommending that Tennesseans store enough food and water for at least three days,” says TEMA Director James Bassham.
“Since you don’t know where you’ll be when a disaster strikes, consider making a kit for your workplace and vehicle, as well as the home.”
Set aside at least one gallon of water per person per day. To ensure your water remains useable, it’s recommended that residents purchase commercially bottled water.
Water containers should remain unopened until needed and remember to periodically check expiration dates.
People could lose their heating source during a disaster. Since Tennessee winters can be severe, you should include warm clothing and bedding supplies in any disaster kit. Be sure to include at least one complete change of clothing and shoes per person.
Here are some additional items to consider:
• Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries;
• Flashlight and extra batteries;
• First aid kit and manual;
• Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper);
• Matches and waterproof container;
• Whistle for signaling;
• Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener;
• Photocopies of credit and identification cards;
• Cash, including coins;
• Personal medications, eye glasses, lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries; and
• Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles and pacifiers.
Families should also review their personal emergency plans for both staying home in an emergency and for evacuation. These plans should include information about where to go in the event of an emergency and who to contact to make sure all family members are safe.
As part of this month-long observance, Tennessee Department of Health is recruiting helping hands to volunteer in the event that a public health emergency should arise.
TDOH uses the Tennessee Volunteer Mobilizer and regional Medical Reserve Corps units to build a network of medical and non-medical volunteers to support the public health workforce.
Registered volunteers will be called upon to assist with tasks such as dispensing medications or staffing phone lines if a major public health emergency should arise.
All volunteers will be trained for each assigned task, and personnel with all types of skills and/or credentials from doctors and nurses to general volunteers are needed.
“National Preparedness Month is a prime opportunity to get involved, and remind Tennesseans that the need for the public to be prepared continues,” emphasized Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. 
“The public is an essential member of our emergency management team and their preparedness is critical to our success.”
To become a volunteer, register online at http://health.state.tn.us/volunteer/than_volunteer.htm indicating your volunteer preferences, skills, licenses and certification. By entering and keeping your contact information current, you will be automatically notified in the event of an emergency. The TVM is a Web-based system designed to serve as a single, centralized source of information to ease the intra-state, state-to-state and state-to-federal deployment or transfer of volunteer health professionals and other volunteers.
TVM gives Tennessee the ability to quickly identify and assist in the coordination of volunteers in an emergency.
The MRC, housed in the Office of the United States Surgeon General, is a national network of community-based volunteer units.
MRC recruitment supports existing local agencies throughout the year with preparedness and response activities. MRC volunteers are registered and deployed through TVM and are involved in organized efforts at the local level.
National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council.
For additional planning resources, visit www.Ready.gov.
WCP 9.07.10

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