As Winter Approaches, Preparedness Emphasized

It won’t happen to me? That’s not the way to face a disaster, and a presentation sponsored by the Londonderry Elder Affairs Committee offered pointers and concrete information for people who plan to take a different response to potential emergencies.
Garrett Simonsen, regional coordinator of the Greater Derry Public Health Network, which includes Londonderry, visited the committee last week to explain how to be prepared.

He focused on actions that everyone – not just the elderly – should take to face any possible emergencies.
Simonsen said direct experience, such as the 2008 ice storm, or observed experience, such as with Katrina, are motivators that encourage preparation. He cited surveys that say half of American families still don’t have an emergency plan, even with the rise of disasters across the country.
“Further, the survey showed that of that one-half of Americans that did have a plan, 30 percent still lacked an essential item to respond,” Simonsen said.
Simonsen said there are several reasons why people don’t prepare and asked the audience what they were.
Town Council Chairman John Farrell suggested dependence on first responders. Others said it was the age-old thought that “it won’t happen to me.”
Simonsen cited other factors, including not taking the time for preparation, not having the knowledge of how to prepare, cost, and culture. He cited a woman from another culture who believed that if you were to prepare, you were asking for the negative thing to happen.
Simonsen emphasized that nine essential items should be put aside in a backpack or other type of carry-bag in case of an evacuation order. They are: Water, one gallon per person for three days; non-perishable food for each person and each pet for three days; clothing; medications in the original packaging; flashlight and batteries; radio (crank or battery operated); hygiene items; and a first aid kit.
“People should also be prepared, especially in New England, for a power outage,” Simonsen added. That preparation should include a flashlight and batteries, a plan to connect with family in case the heat and use of electric stove are cut off, and a plan in place with the utility company if medical equipment requiring electricity is used in the home. He noted a good option is to have a generator that is professionally installed.

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