By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation
In recent years, horrific wildfires spread along the West Coast, while tropical storms devastated popular vacation spots through the South. This year alone, we experienced blistering cold temperatures with the polar vortex this winter in the North and Upper Midwest, saw the Midwest face a bomb cyclone leaving detrimental flooding to homes and farms, and most recently this summer California experienced a 6.4 magnitude earthquake. Natural and man-made disasters can strike at any time and it is important to have a planned response. These events could happen while you’re at home, at work, on vacation or even on the road.
In September, when we celebrate National Preparedness Month, we are reminded to prepare ourselves and our families for emergencies or disasters that could occur with a moment’s notice. In 2017, 59,985 weather-related events resulted in 592 deaths and 4,270 injuries in the United States. Flash floods, tropical storms and heat waves resulted in the most deaths that year; however, tornadoes, ice storms, and thunderstorms and wind were responsible for the largest number of injuries.
For many communities, especially our rural and farming communities, we may be the first ones to act after a disaster strikes before first responders arrive. Therefore, it is important to prepare in advance to help yourself and your community. Although disasters don’t plan ahead, we can! Here are a few safety tips or things to consider to be prepared when faced with an emergency or disaster:
- It’s always better to be safe, than sorry! Don’t ignore updates on severe weather conditions and listen to local weather reports on the television, radio or internet. If electric and cell phone service become disabled, be prepared with flashlights, batteries and other important items.
- Make sure to have a family communication plan in place and all members of the family should review and practice the plan. Have all family members’ and other important phone numbers written down or memorized.
- Have an evacuation plan in place for your home or farm. You should not only consider how to escape but think about where your family and/or livestock will go next.
- Check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornados.
- Have an emergency kit in your car and at least three days of food and water at home.
- Be sure to store all important documents, like birth certificates, insurance policies, etc., in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box.
- Learn life-saving skills like first aid and CPR.
- Know how to shut off utilities, like gas and water.
- Hazards still exist when returning home after a disaster. Be aware of debris, mold, asbestos, chemical, sewage, etc. Always use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) during any clean-up effort.
To date, nearly 1.8 million children & adults have been reached by Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, which is recognized as the largest rural safety and health education program for children in North America. Learn more about the program by calling 888-257-3529 or visiting progressiveag.org. You can help send another child to a Safety Day with a modest donation of only $13. Donate by texting the word “SAFETYDAY” to 41444 or visit progressiveag.org/Donate
Photos: Through activities like putting together first aid kits and creating fire escape plans to learning to administer CPR and create a disaster preparedness kit, Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® participants learn to be prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster.