(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) Are you prepared for a disaster? Living close to the nation’s capital makes us vulnerable to all sorts of emergency scenarios, both natural and man-made. Remember the earthquake of 2011? Or the derecho that blew through in 2012 and knocked out electricity, cell phones and key services all at once?
There are simple precautions you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe and ready.
The Arlington County Office of Emergency Management recommends the following:
- Make a personal or family communication plan. Include a list of everybody’s work and cell phone numbers, and designate an out-of-town relative or friend as a point of contact. More information is available on Arlington’s Emergency Management web site.
- Prepare a 3-day emergency supply kit. Stock it with basics such as water, non-perishable food, a can opener, flashlights, batteries and first-aid essentials. Tailor it to your specific needs, including medications, baby supplies or pet supplies.
- Save important documents. Gather financial and other important papers in one secure location. For extra protection, save your documents on a flash drive and leave it with a family member or friend.
Taryn Overman, Patient Care Director of the Emergency Department at Virginia Hospital Center, recommends the following to help you prepare for urgent situations that may happen in the home:
- Take a basic first-aid and CPR course. Virginia Hospital Center and many other community organizations offer first-aid and CPR courses where you can practice your life-saving skills as you train for emergency situations. You can register for a CPR class at Virginia Hospital Center by visiting our Classes & Events page and clicking on the Calendar tab. Upcoming classes are scheduled for Sept. 25, Oct. 2, and Oct. 23.
- Keep your emergency information in one location and inform your family or friends of the location. This helps you, family or friends locate your information quickly if an urgent situation arises. The information most useful includes copies of your driver’s license, insurance cards, an updated list of home medications and allergies, emergency contact name and phone number, and a list of your physicians.
- Know the route to your closest emergency department. It is always important to practice the route in case of an emergency. However, if you think you are having a medical emergency that needs urgent attention, call 911.
September is National Preparedness Month. Be informed. Be ready. Sign up for up-to-the-minute alerts from Arlington County’s Office of Emergency Management. Or visit FEMA’s website to learn what to do before, during and after specific emergency situations, such as a flood, fire or tornado.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.