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Be prepared in case of emergency

In observance of National Preparedness Month, Health Director Nina Oliver is passing on these tips to help your family be ready for an emergency:

Step 1: Be prepared
Make sure you have a “to-go bag” ready in case you need to evacuate, including:
• Wind-up or battery-operated radio and flashlight
• Extra batteries
• First-aid kit
• Maps
• Important documents such as proof of residence; pictures of your family, including pets; insurance policies; and tax records
• Comfortable clothing and blankets
• Unique family needs such as prescription medications, pet supplies, infant supplies or any other unique need your family may have
Visit http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34326 for emergency supply kit checklists for parents and kids.

Step 2: Make a plan
Prepare your family
• Work with your family and neighbors to make a disaster plan. Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of a disaster. You can download family emergency plans at www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
• Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, child care and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.

Plan to Evacuate
• Identify several places family members could go in an emergency, such as a friend’s home in another town, a motel or public shelter.
• If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
• If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
• Take your emergency supply kit.
• Keep pets safe during emergencies. Go to www.humanesociety.org/issues/animal_rescue/tips/pets-disaster.html for a to-do list for protecting your pets during a disaster.

Prepare Your Home
• Cover all of your home’s windows with pre-cut plywood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.
• Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
• Keep all trees and shrubs well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
• Secure your home by closing shutters and securing outdoor objects or bringing them inside.
• Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
• Turn off propane tanks.
• Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

Step 3: Be Informed
Learn what to do, before, during, and after an emergency by going to www.Ready.gov. Also, contact your Emergency Management and local health department to get information about local plans. Police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly, such as if trees and power lines are down or if they’re busy by demand from an emergency. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover.
For more information about how to prepare, visit the Rowan County Emergency Management Office Web site at: www.rowancountync.gov and then click on Emergency Services on the left hand side or call 704-216-8900. Also visit the Rowan County Health Department Web site at: www.rowancountync.gov/healthdepartment or call 704-216-8777. Also visit www.Ready.gov and www.redcross.org.

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