September is National Preparedness Month, and emergency management agencies across the nation help prepare communities for disasters they may face year-round. There are actions you can take now to make sure your family, neighborhood and community are prepared should a disaster strike. Through prior planning and preparedness, residents can help make their communities more resilient.
Make a Plan, Gather Supplies
Agree on an emergency action plan. Knowing where you and your family will go for safety and making a communication plan that details how you will contact others during a disaster are essential parts of an emergency plan of action. Disasters can occur with little or no advanced notice. That is why it is important for residents to have a plan in place before disasters strike. What will we do if we are separated? How will we take care of our pets? Where might we stay overnight if we can’t go home? These are all good questions that need to be answered before a disaster. However, planning should not stop with your home. Make sure you know what you will do at your job and when traveling.
Creating a disaster supply kit is another step to ready your family for an emergency. A disaster supply kit is a basic collection of household items, including water, food, flashlights, blankets, medication, essential documents and other necessities. Since disasters can heavily affect local infrastructure, first responders may not be able to reach everyone immediately. Therefore, residents should be prepared to take care of themselves for a couple of days after a disaster strikes. Review your kit annually to restock, and add new items a family member may need.
Sign Up for Alerts
Cherokee County Emergency Management strongly recommends residents identify more than one way to receive a warning for weather events or critical alerts. Cherokee County offers a mass notification system called CodeRED to its residents. CodeRED provides critical communications such as evacuation notices, missing child alerts, and weather warnings. To sign up for CodeRED, please visit www.cherokeega-ema.org/codered. Wireless Emergency Alerts on your smartphone, NOAA Weather Radio, local television media and weather apps for your smartphone are also excellent ways to receive an alert or warning.
Cherokee County also has outdoor warning sirens throughout the county. However, outdoor warning sirens should never be your primary source of receiving an alert of a tornado warning. Most homes and buildings are designed to keep sounds out; thus, outdoor warning sirens are most useful for alerting people who are outside of their home, in parks or shopping areas.
Throughout September, Cherokee County Emergency Management will provide additional preparedness information on its Facebook
(@CherokeeEMA) and Twitter (@ema_CherokeeGA) accounts. Preparedness information can also be found on our website at
www.cherokeega-ema.org by clicking on the Are You Ready? icon.
– Daniel Westbrook is the director of the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency and has been with the agency since 2016.