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September 15th, 2016

Don’t wait…communicate: September is National Preparedness Month

By Roxanne Moster

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Horrific wildfires have displaced hundreds of California residents from their homes this summer.  Hurricanes and fierce storms in Florida and the Gulf Coast have damaged more homes, sending citizens fleeing for shelter.  And eight tornadoes carved through Indiana in August leaving scores homeless.

Every time I witness Mother Nature’s fierceness on the news, it reminds me of the two earthquakes my family and I lived through in Los Angeles – the Sylmar quake of 1971 and the 1994 Northridge earthquake.  Even though those earthquakes were frightening and caused so much damage to our city, I’m embarrassed to say I still don’t have a preparedness plan in place. But September is National Preparedness Month, and it’s  nudging me to finally get started!

A key component of being prepared is to develop a family communications plan.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than  half of U.S. adults  do not have the resources and plans in place for a possible emergency.

“We recognize that people generally don't like thinking about disasters, and getting started with preparing can seem overwhelming,” says Kurt Kainsinger, director of UCLA Health’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. “It doesn't matter where you start, the important thing is to start today by reviewing your emergency provisions and begin having  these important conversations with your family, friends and neighbors.”

William Dunne, administrative director of UCLA Health’s Emergency Preparedness, Safety and Security Services, says a  communications plan “ensures that you will be able to locate and verify your loved ones’ well-being after a large-scale disaster.” Dunne and his team are encouraging all doctors, nurses and staff at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to be prepared and have a plan in place.  “It’s especially important if your job is one that the community depends upon during a disaster.”

According to UCLA Health, your family communication plan should include contact information for:

  • Each family member
  • An out-of-state contact
  • Utility and insurance companies
  • Local emergency response agencies (i.e. fire and police)
  • Children’s schools
  • Family members’ places of employment

Dunne encourages everyone to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency.  This includes having an up-to-date contact list for those you may need to reach during a disaster and establishing alternate methods of communication in case traditional means are not available.  He notes that UCLA Health has an emergency preparedness starter kit list to kick-start your plan, along with general emergency preparedness information.

“It is also important to develop a personal preparedness kit for each member of your family, including precious pets,” says Kainsinger.  “These kits should be accessible at home, at work or school, and for your commute.  The CDC, American Red Cross and Ready.gov websites have checklists that are informative and easy to follow.”

UCLA Health also has a one -year personal preparedness challenge with a monthly ‘to-do’ list to get you ready and to stay ready. So, take the challenge with me and let’s get prepared this month!

Tags: CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency, emergency preparedness starter kit, family communications plan, fierce storms, hurricanes, National Preparedness Month, News & Insights

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