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Senator Tom Harkin: Be Prepared


Senator Tom Harkin:

September is National Preparedness Month and in the past weeks we have seen why having a solid emergency preparedness plan is of paramount importance. The devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a dramatic reminder that being prepared for emergencies can be a matter of life and death. Disasters – both natural and unnatural – can strike any place and at any time. It is more important then ever to be aware – and be prepared.

Allow me to suggest some simple steps that you and your family can take to prepare yourself and your family for a disaster. First and foremost, you should have an emergency plan – a plan that every family member is acquainted with. The Home Safety Council offers the following tips for getting started:

    * Assemble a disaster supplies kit which may include the following:
          – a cell phone and cell phone charger
          – bottled water
          – battery-operated radio and alarm
          – flashlight and extra batteries
          – dry and canned foods with a can opener
          – first-aid kit
          – medications (ask your physician or pharmacist about how long medications can be stored and under what conditions)
          – copies of important papers and phone numbers
          – blankets
          – Consolidate these supplies in easy to carry duffle bags or other protected containers
          – Post in a prominent place a list of emergency contact phone numbers. Make copies of this list for each member to carry in case they’re separated when disaster strikes.
          – If local authorities advise you to leave, do so as quickly as possible, using the evacuation routes advised on TV or radio. Bring medications, your disaster supplies kit, personal identification, clothing, rain gear, and other essentials.
* If disaster strikes remain calm, be patient, and put your plan into action.

Take a few hours – soon – to prepare a plan, assemble emergency supplies, and get prepared. And remember: The life you save may be your own!

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