Natural disaster preparedness

Building an emergency kit is one way Columbia residents can better prepare for natural disasters.

Elizabeth Thompson, planning and preparedness specialist at the Boone County Office of Emergency Management, says the biggest mistake people make when it comes to natural disasters is not being ready.

“Disasters are going to happen,” Thompson says. “Citizens should take small steps toward being prepared.” Thompson shared tips with Vox to help brace for natural disasters.

Be familiar with hazards that affect your area.

The first step to being prepared is knowing what you are up against. People can visit the Office of Emergency Management’s website for information about the different hazards (i.e. flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, etc.) that affect Boone County. There is also a document on the website called the Hazard Mitigation Plan about the history of hazards in Boone County and their frequency.

Make a plan.

Establish a meeting point outside of your home. If you have to evacuate, know your rendezvous point. Residents should have a primary meeting location as well as a backup. Don’t forget to discuss how you will let other household members know you are safe if you’re separated when a disaster strikes. The household should also have an out-of-household contact to check in with, which might be a neighbor, family friend or relative who lives in the area. It is also a good idea to have an out-of-state contact you can let know that you are safe.

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Anticipating natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, fires and earthquakes, can help you be ready to evacuate an area efficiently when disaster strikes. 

Build an emergency kit.

This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. The to-go kit of supplies should include flashlights, batteries, matches, food and water. Extra clothing, blankets, financial information and copies of important documents are also good to keep on hand. Then think about your specific needs with items such as pet crates or daily medication. The Office of Emergency Management suggests having one kit to sustain each household member for 72 hours.

Stay informed.

Have a weather radio in the house that can pick up on severe weather warnings as well as receive alerts and updates during an event. The Office of Emergency Management also encourages everyone to sign up for Smart911/Rave Alert System. The office distributes more disaster preparedness information at different community events and in its website’s monthly newsletter

Get involved.

The Office of Emergency Management encourages citizens to be involved in disaster preparedness. Boone County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) offers a course that teaches basic disaster preparedness. Also, individuals can participate in additional educational training to potentially assist during times of disaster. You can register to take an online, self-paced CERT Basic Training course on the Office of Emergency Management’s website.

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