A little preparation goes a long way, especially during a crisis. Putting systems in place when you are calm can help you when an emergency strikes. That is why Stafford is asking citizens to do a little planning and evaluating this year during September’s National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” This year’s campaign has four steps: Financial Preparedness; Make a Plan; Youth Preparedness; and Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness.
“Those of us in emergency management train and prepare for emergencies so that when we are in the moment, we are ready. We have trained, and we know what to do,” said Virgil Gray, Stafford Fire and Rescue Division Chief – Emergency Management. “We are asking that residents take the time to consider a few things so that when they are in a crisis, they are prepared and ready, not panicked.”
Step 1: Financial Preparedness
Review your insurance coverage. Even if you do not live in a flood plain, you may need flood insurance. Set aside a savings account for emergencies. For a primer on how to plan, visit www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness.
Step 2: Make A Plan
Start with a plan that answers a few simple questions: how will I receive emergency warnings (Sign up for Stafford Alert at www.staffordcountyva.gov/alert to receive real time info); what is my shelter plan; what is my evacuation route; and what is my family communication plan. Decide where you will meet after an emergency. Plan for being able to shelter in place for 72 hours without aid. Visit www.ready.gov/kit to find information on what supplies you will need.
Step 3: Youth Preparedness
Children are often left out of discussions about emergencies in an attempt to shield them. It is better to prepare children by teaching them how and when to ask for help. Discuss potential emergencies with them and what their roles and responsibilities are. Let them assist you in putting together an emergency kit, particularly with games or comfort items that would help them cope in an emergency. For more ideas, visit www.ready.gov/kids.
Step 4: Get Involved in Your Community’s Preparedness
Stafford County has many volunteer opportunities for staff and residents to get involved in the community. Programs like the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) train volunteers in disaster preparedness and response skills that help prepare them for the types of disasters our community may face. If you do not have the time to dedicate to a volunteer organization, you can sign up to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR/AED and first aid or Stop the Bleed. For more ways you can get involved please contact the Citizens Assistance and Volunteer Services Office at (540) 658-4516 or visit https://staffordcountyva.gov/volunteer.