One of the most important things anyone can do to prepare for a disaster like a typhoon or a flood is personal preparedness, according to a visiting Federal Emergency Management Agency official.
“Because if you’re not prepared then it’s somebody else’s job to help you out. We want to make sure you’re taking the steps that you can do to be prepared,” said FEMA voluntary agency liaison Michael Kern, who served as the Rotary Club of Saipan’s guest speaker yesterday at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.
As a voluntary agency liaison, or VAL, Kern acts as a bridge between the community and FEMA and includes supporting non-profit, community based and faith-based organizations. Kern has responsibility over Hawaii, American Samoa, and the CNMI.
He said personal preparedness could be achieved through four steps: build a kit, make a plan, be informed, and get involved.
According to the website www.ready.gov, a disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items a household may need in the event of an emergency.
Since the CNMI is in the middle of the Pacific, Kern said that supplies would take days to come here so instead of the recommended 72 hours of food and water, he recommends storing a week’s worth of them.
A supplies kit, he said, should contain items to help manage during the days after the disaster when electricity and other critical services are down.
Families should have a predetermined safe place to go to during a disaster, he said, and should have a way to contact one another and a plan on how to get back together when they’re separated.
“Make a plan and have a communications plan with your family. Make sure your children know where the meet-up place going to be.”
Be informed, meanwhile, means familiarizing yourself with the signs of events that come without warning and know the local advance alerts and warnings and how you will receive them.
“Be informed through social media, websites, and a lot of ways to get informed and most importantly get involved in your community.”
According to wwww.ready.gov, knowing about the local emergency plans for shelter and evacuation and local emergency contacts will help develop a household plan and will also come in handy during a crisis.
Get involved entails volunteering to support disaster efforts in the community, becoming a part of the community planning process, or joining or starting a preparedness project. One can also donate cash or goods, which may help meet the needs of the community in times of disaster.