Opinion – Storm season is coming – be prepared

through the looking glassBy Marianne Curtis

Turn on the news and you will see the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Just a few weeks ago, the news was more local; wild fires in several communities, followed by mass power outages due to a snow storm. In some areas it took almost a week to get power back up completely.

Manitoba is a large and varied province with severe weather at all times of the year, including tornados, blizzards, windstorms, freezing rain, hail, and wildfires. It is important to understand the probability and severity of the hazards in the place you live. Emergency preparedness is initially a personal responsibility.

While governments have resources available to assist as an emergency escalates, individuals are expected to have made plans and take steps to secure the safety of themselves, their families and their pets.

Don’t wait for an emergency to happen. We all have a responsibility to prepare for emergencies. At home, this requires an understanding of everyone’s unique needs, supplies to take care of yourself for a period of at least 72 hours, while emergency workers help those in urgent need.

There are three important steps to good emergency preparedness. Know the risks and know your region. Each area of the province has unique challenges that you should be aware of. Know that information and make a plan. Then prepare a kit.

Organize escape routes, emergency exits in your home, and find a safe meeting place near your home. People with special health needs should establish a personal support network of friends, relatives, health-care providers, co-workers and neighbours who understand your special needs. Write details about your medical conditions, allergies, surgeries, family medical history, medications, health screenings, vaccinations, emergency contact and insurance information.

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

– Water at least 2 litres per person per day. Include small bottles, easy to carry

–  Food that won’t spoil, but replace once a year

– Manual can opener, flashlight & batteries

– First aid kit and/or medications

– Cash in small denominations

– Copy of your emergency plan

– Copy of your contact information

DO NOT forget your pets – if you have animals, make sure you have enough water and food to keep your animals healthy and safe during an emergency. If you are forced to leave animals behind, do not just walk away; leave a note telling rescuers there are animals on premises. Your pets rely on you for their well-being and should not be left to fend for themselves.

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