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Department of Health Encourages Residents to ready for Emergencies

September is National Preparedness Month

Tennessee Department of HealthNashville, TN – In keeping with the priority Tennessee has placed on emergency preparedness, Gov. Bill Haslam has declared September National Preparedness Month in the state.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, offering greater significance for the observance and renewing the focus on individual and family planning for emergency situations. This year’s observance theme is, “A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare.”

The Tennessee Department of Health is issuing a call to residents to take specific steps to be prepared in the event of an emergency:  get a kit; make a plan; and be informed. Detailed information is available online at www.ready.gov.

“Ten years ago, our country changed forever, but as a nation we promised never to forget and vowed to be prepared for the unthinkable,” Haslam said. “Recent natural disasters throughout the state are a reminder of how we need to remember to be prepared for unpredictable events that may impact our families and communities.”

Beginning in the spring of 2010 and continuing into the current year, Tennessee has experienced record-breaking flooding and several severe storms, some with tornadoes. This year alone, the state has had two new federal disaster declarations in response to violent storms and more severe flooding, bringing the total of presidential declarations to eight in the 15-month period, from May 2010 through July 2011.

“We have seen firsthand in Tennessee how emergencies can take their toll on the health and safety of our family, friends and neighbors,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. “It’s clear that families need to have an emergency kit, make a plan and be as informed as possible to be able to withstand the devastating impact natural and man-made disasters may bring.”

Here are the basics to get ready for an emergency:

  • Get a kit
    After an emergency occurs, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Food, water and other supplies should be on hand for everyone in your location to last for at least three days. You can expect officials and relief workers to arrive after a disaster, but it may take several hours or even few days. Also remember that basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for extended periods. A suggested list of items to include in your kit is available online at www.ready.gov/america/getakit/index.html.
  • Make a plan
    When disaster strikes, your family members may be in different locations, so it’s important to have a plan in advance. Everyone in your household needs to know how to contact one another, where they should gather if possible, and what to do in different situations. To get started on your family plan, visit http://ready.adcouncil.org/beprepared/fep/index.jsp or go to www.ready.gov/america/_downloads/familyemergencyplan.pdf.
  • Be informed
    Tennessee encourages “all hazards” planning. There are many similarities in planning for any natural or man-made disaster. However, how your family might plan for flooding, a tornado or chemical threat may be very different. Make sure to learn about the potential emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate way to respond to them at www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/index.html. Further prepare by learning about emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government.

The Tennessee Department of Health continues to recruit and register people across the state to build a network of medical and non-medical volunteers to support the public health workforce in the event of a large-scale emergency. TDOH uses the Tennessee Volunteer Mobilizer and regional Medical Reserve Corps units for this purpose. Registered volunteers will be called 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 people with all types of skills and/or credentials from doctors and nurses to general volunteers are needed. To become a volunteer, register online 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.

National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps and the Advertising Council. NPM is held each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and communities.

For more information about National Preparedness Month, visit www.ready.gov/america/npm10/index.html.

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