FAQ

The following information was retrieved from the Rural Assistance Center webpage and the Community Emergency Response Team webpage.

Question: What is emergency preparedness?

Answer: Emergency preparedness means taking action to be ready for emergencies before they happen. The objective is to simplify decision making during emergencies.

Question: What’s the difference between emergency preparedness and emergency response?

Answer: Emergency preparedness refers to actions which can and should be performed prior to an emergency, such as planning and coordination meetings, procedure writing, team training, emergency drills and exercises, and prepositioning of emergency equipment. Emergency response refers to actions taken in response to an actual, ongoing event.

Question: Who is involved in making emergency preparedness decisions?

Answer: FEMA, U. S. Department of Homeland Security, The American Red Cross, State and local officials, as well as thousands of volunteers and first responders such as police, firefighters, and medical response personnel, are all involved in emergency preparedness. These agencies and groups have produced comprehensive emergency preparedness programs that assure the adequate protection of the public in the event of emergencies.

Question: Why is planning so important?

Answer: It is everyone’s responsibility to be prepared for emergencies. Initially, emergency services will be consumed with responding to the disaster. It is up to each of us to prepare. Planning in advance will help you, your family and friends manage an emergency in a calm and effective way, which will help keep you safe.

Question: What should people do to prepare for an emergency?

Answer: Families should develop an emergency plan to prepare their home, family, and office in case of a natural disaster or other emergency.  Having extra cash, medication, water, clothing, and food can help families be prepared. Other things are to get a kit, make a plan, have a list of family emergency numbers and school contacts, have an emergency meeting place, and stay informed.  Agencies such as the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have brochures to help you develop a family emergency plan. Your community group or neighborhood association might also want to consider establishing a phone tree or email list to relay important information.

Question: In an emergency, is evacuation always the answer?

Answer: No. Evacuation is not the only protective action available to the public. In some situations sheltering may provide protection that is equal to or even greater than evacuation. Sheltering may be the preferred protective action in cases where weather, competing events, or short-term releases are factors.

Question: What does shelter in place mean?

Answer: Sheltering in place is one of several response options available to emergency management directors to provide an additional level of protection in the event of an emergency. Shelter in place is a protective action designed to use an indoor facility, such as your own home or a public building, and its indoor atmosphere to shield people from a hazardous outdoor environment. Sheltering in place means persons will remain in a building until emergency management officials issue additional instructions or declare that the emergency condition has ended. It is a short-term option for limiting the potential exposure of persons to hazards that may be present in the outdoor environment. It will most likely be a matter of hours, not days.

It is recommended to have a three day supply on hand.  This includes one gallon of water per person per day, food and manual can opener, a week’s supply of prescription medication, battery powered radio, with extra batteries, extra batteries for hearing aids or other assistive devices, flashlight with extra batteries, a list of contacts with family members, friends, doctors, and first aid supplies. Any items you normally use that you would need for three days should an emergency occur should also be included. If you have a pet, you will need three days supply of food and water for each pet. Should you have to evacuate, these supplies should go with you. More extensive lists and information can be found on websites dealing with preparedness, such as Ready.gov.

It is also a very good idea to have a “go bag” ready in case you have to evacuate either your home or work place. This small bag could include those personal items you would need if you had to leave without any notice as well as copies of financial records, pet’s veterinarian records, extra keys for house and car, cash, spare glasses or other special needs items, such as medications, batteries for assistive devices and copies of family documents.

For sheltering longer than three days, or if you have to evacuate, you may also want to include blankets and bedding, garbage bags, extra sets of clothes, pet carrier, litter, bags, water for pets, and personal hygiene items with the go bag items.

Question: What is CERT?

Answer: The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT members also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community. You can check the state directory to see if there is a CERT near you.

Question: Who can take the training?

Answer: Naturals for the training are neighborhood watch, community organizations, communities of faith, school staff, workplace employees, scouting organization and other groups that come together regularly for a common purpose. CERT skills are useful in disaster and everyday life events.

Question: How do I take CERT training?

Answer: To become a CERT member, you will have to take the CERT training from a sponsoring agency like an emergency management agency, fire department or police department in the area where you live or work. Contact the local emergency manager where you live or work and ask about the education and training opportunities available to you. Let this person know about your interest in CERT.

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