Featured Spring 2019 

Tips for household emergencies and neighborhood disasters

-By Jess Wade, HOA Board member

How Ready are You for Threatening Spring Weather?

Yes, we are in severe weather season. Disaster can strike at any time and none of us are guaranteed that tomorrow will be like today. Straight line winds strong enough to uproot trees. Tornadoes. Power grid failure. Neighborhood flooding. Natural gas line interruption. If you are unprepared for a weather-related disaster, here is a series of questions worth considering:

  • Are you practicing or reviewing your house fire escape plan at least once a year? And do you explain it to overnight house guests?
  • Do you have an emergency supply of food and water in the event you are sheltering at home? (Remember seeing TV news reports of empty shelves at the supermarket and supply shortages at the hardware stores.)
  • How long are you prepared to function without electricity should area power grids fail and lights go out at home and office?
  • How much cash do you have on hand in the event ATM’s no longer work and credit card readers have crashed? Develop a disaster financial plan.
  • What’s your disaster communication plan in case your family must evacuate while separated from one another?
  • How’s the gas level in your vehicle? (During a city-wide emergency you’ll find it almost impossible to pump gas…at any price.)
  • Do you have an emergency all-weather supply kit in each vehicle?

Take the following common-sense steps now and enjoy real peace-of-mind for years to come:

  1. Decide your household will be one that’s prepared for emergencies. Imagine what Town Creek might look like following a major storm. What do you need to do now to get ready for a sudden disruption of the norm?
  2. Provide each family member with an emergency I.D. “wallet card” with names and phone numbers written down for reference (don’t rely on electronic records).
  3. Write a family Communication Plan. Think of it as your “Action Plan.” This is an important 1-or-2-page document which should be copied to your extended family. It includes written family contact information as well as that of your support network (probably most everyone stored on your cell phone.)
  4. Agree upon both a local and out-of-area safe place to meet if your home is unreachable or inaccessible. Make getting ready a family thing.  
  5. Conduct a practice session periodically as a reminder of your family’s action plan for sheltering at home or evacuating.

Tips for sheltering at home:

  1. Establish a climate-controlled storage place for a minimum one-week supply of drinking water, non-perishable food (don’t forget your pets), first-aid kit, battery powered radio, flashlights, plenty of extra batteries, etc., (and, no kidding, don’t forget the duct tape).
  2. Invest in a generator large enough to meet temporary power needs. Select either a permanently installed natural gas operated unit or mobile gasoline powered generator. Both must operate outdoors only! (Rather expensive, yes. But finding one at any price after disaster strikes may be a futile search.)
  3. Get to know your neighbors. You may be away when your house is threatened. Having a trusted friend you can call upon for help or information can prove very important. Make a quid pro-quo agreement in advance.

Tips for evacuating:

  1. Prepare emergency “go-kits” that you can immediately and easily transfer to your vehicle (multiple bags, boxes or bins). Common sense will guide you on what to include for your family needs. Don’t forget copies of important documents, extra cash, and a phone charger.
  2. Establish in advance a primary and secondary family meeting place (one local, one out-of-area). Remember, if Aunt Mary’s is selected as a place to meet, be sure you notify Aunt Mary that she’s part of your plan.
  3. Follow your family’s communication plan. For cell phone contact with family members voice contact may not be possible. Use text which requires 8-times less band width than voice. And keep it simple.  Text: RUOK? Reply: IMOK or WEROK.
  4. Follow evacuation instructions given by emergency authorities.
  5. Get started on your plan today with more details, forms, and templates at  https://ready.gov

Ben Franklyn had it right. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” By acting before disaster strikes you will gain peace-of-mind while saving both time and money!

Postscript: In my experience teaching the importance of emergency preparedness to hundreds of people, I have discovered among individuals an almost innate reluctance to “get ready.” As Americans, we simply are not convinced IT will happen to US. Sadly, we do nothing. I encourage you to instead consider it a head-of-household responsibility for the safety and well-being of your entire family.

Also think about how rewarding it could be to the residents of Town Creek if most households are prepared to deal with the aftermath of a devastating natural or man-made disaster. First responders will be overwhelmed following a community-wide disaster. We will most likely be on our own. A resilient neighborhood is one that will recover more quickly and make its people (and pets) safer. As a member of the Town Creek neighborhood, let’s each opt-in for emergency readiness.

“Tips for household emergencies and neighborhood disasters” is submitted quarterly to the Town Creek Crier by HOA board member, Jess Wade. Now retired, Jess served from 2005 to 2016 as Coordinator for the Dallas County Medical Reserve Corps, Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Bioterrorism Division of the Dallas County Department of Health & Human Services.

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