September is National Preparedness Month. As the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passes, we are reminded how disaster can strike in our own backyards. There are many ways we can prepare ourselves and our families for disaster.
Some disasters Texans may experience and should prepare for are power outages, floods, wildfires and hurricanes. Losing your power in the middle of the Texas heat can be a dangerous thing and we recently experienced the tragedy of massive flooding this past May. There are many ways you and your family can prepare for the next disaster.
BASIC DISASTER KIT
Every family can prepare a Basic Disaster Supplies Kit which includes:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days
- Food, at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
For any disaster, the best thing to do is follow the story on your local news station and stay informed. Some disasters give us an advanced warning with time to prepare. Have an evacuation plan ready. If you have pets, have your pet carrier ready to go in a location that is easy to get to in case you have to escape danger quickly. Have your important documents and valuables in one safe location that you can quickly get to.
With the 2015 Texas Floods fresh in our memories, it is a good idea to get flood prepared now. Just a few things you can do are: purchase flood insurance, elevate critical utilities, flood proof basement, clear debris from gutters and downspouts and move valuables and documents to a safe place.
Hurricane season is June 1st to November 30th. Because hurricanes can be tracked, the first thing to do is stay alert and follow the hurricane’s path on your local news station. Have an evacuation plan ready. Think of where you can travel and who you may be able to stay with until the hurricane is over. Protect your home by having boards ready in your garage with the tools needed to board up your windows. Plan with your neighbors in advance if you think you may need help boarding up. Purchasing hurricane proof shutters will save you time in the event of a hurricane. Gather enough canned goods, batteries and water for a few days.
Unlike floods and hurricanes, there are no advanced warnings for wildfires. Although wildfires can occur anytime within the year, the potential is high during periods of little or no rain and can occur anywhere from remote wilderness to your own backyard. Some of us may remember the 2011 Texas wildfires that occurred in Bastrop and other parts of our community which were devastating to our community.
Because fires are unpredictable, a great thing to do is make sure you have homeowners or renter’s insurance to cover your property and belongings. Reduce the amount of material that burns easily around your home. Use fire-resistant materials for landscaping and construction around your home.
Remember your life if the most important thing. Your things can be replaced but you cannot. Have a family meeting and talk with your family about what to do in case of disaster.
For more information and ways to prepare for floods, hurricanes, wildfires, tornados, earthquakes and winter storms, please visit:
For additional emergency supplies list visit:
Polaris and The Salvation Army are showing the value of partnership while DARPA shows the advances in using Technology to help in times of disaster. Many of the tools that are manufactured by Polaris are perfect for taking The Salvation Army closer to where the need is the greatest. At the DARPA Robotics Challenge, Teams from around the world demonstrate diverse approaches and expertise while collaborating toward a common goal: improving robotics for disaster response.
Recently in response and recovery efforts to Hurricane Sandy and the Oklahoma tornadoes, Polaris donated a number of off road support vehicles to assist The Salvation Army in disaster response. Demonstrating this partnership while DARPA continues to find ways to support disaster response is a natural fit.
The units on display walk, crawl and roll. They take inspiration from humans and animals, and come in sizes tall and small, skinny and wide. They represent five countries around the world. They are the robots of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials, and they and their human operators have all been practicing very, very hard. (www.theroboticschallenge.org)
The teams scheduled to compete in the DRC Trials—taking place December 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida—are a mix of government, academic and commercial organizations from around the globe. They vary from each other in many ways, such as team size and experience, focus on hardware and/or software, and the design and capabilities of their entries. What all teams share, however, is commitment to a common goal: to speed development of robots that could aid in response efforts after future natural and man-made disasters.
Kevin Smith, Director and Lance Rocks, Assistant Director of The Salvation Army, Emergency Disaster Services, Florida Division as representatives.
“Its perfect to be in Homestead, Florida watching how robotics are being used to make disaster response more efficient and less dangerous for responders when conditions may be too dangerous.” said Lance Rocks. “Homestead really was the starting point for modern day emergency management and seeing that robotics are now being introduced into the response field here gets you excited. Especially if the exponential growth is duplicated.”
The Salvation Army is very grateful to Polaris for its support. The Salvation Army is recognized because we serve at the time and place of the greatest need. Polaris's products takes us even further, and that is critical for our relief. Representatives from Polaris and The Salvation Army will be at the DARPA Challenge Thursday, Friday and Saturday.