Whether it is an emergency that impacts an individual or a community wide disaster, being prepared is the key to minimizing the effects and speeding the recovery process. The Office of Emergency Management wants you to be aware of the hazards that threaten our community and provide you with the knowledge to respond appropriately when disaster is imminent.
The City of Amarillo, Potter County, and Randall County participate in an interjurisdictional emergency management program to ensure the readiness of our community to respond to all hazards that exist in the Texas Panhandle. However, individual and family preparedness is a critical element of any emergency management program… the best community plan will be minimized if the individual or family is not prepared.
September is National Preparedness Month
September is National Preparedness Month all across the Nation and certainly here in Amarillo! The 2014 National Preparedness Month theme is: “Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare”. The month is split up into activities across the five weeks of September. Follow National Preparedness Month on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/readygov.
Week 1 – How to Reconnect with Family after a Disaster
What happens if a disaster occurs in our area and the telephone and cell phone networks are wiped out? Where do you meet your family? What if that area needs to be evacuated? Do you have rendezvous points that are predetermined?
You can create a plan with your family by going to http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan or you can do one with your kids by going to http://www.ready.gov/kids/make-a-plan.
Take Time to Prepare for Severe Weather…
Mid-April to mid-June is the primary severe weather season for the Texas Panhandle. While thunderstorms can bring much needed moisture to our region, they can also bring heavy rains, damaging hail, deadly lightning, high winds, and the potential for destructive tornadoes. Preparedness is the key to ensuring you are ready for severe weather season…
- Make a Plan: Take time to think through how you will respond to a severe weather threat. You should avoid going outside when severe thunderstorms threaten because of the many hazards associated with these powerful storms. To prepare for the threat of a tornado, identify a location where you and your family will take shelter when a warning is issued. Storm shelters or basements are the best locations, but if you don’t have access to these a small interior room on the lowest floor without windows is your best alternative. Manufactured homes and vehicles are not safe locations and you need to have another location identified. If you have to take shelter, covering yourself with pillows, blankets, and even wearing a helmet increases your protection should your location be impacted. Plan ahead not just at home, but also at work, school, church, and any location that you frequent so you will be prepared to take action.
- Build a Kit: National guidelines recommend individuals and families have a 72 hour supply of food, water, medications, and other emergency supplies as a baseline for a disaster supply kit. Your disaster kit should also include other items, such as important documents, prescriptions, medical supplies, and a first aid kit.
- Stay Informed: One of the most important things you can do is stay informed of potential or on-going emergency situations. One of the best tools available is the NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio system operated by the National Weather Service in conjunction with local emergency management. In the event of a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning, the NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio system is activated on a county level to alert you and your family to the weather situation. In addition, local television and radio, outdoor warning sirens, smart-phone applications, Suddenlink cable cut-in system, and other systems are available to alert you to severe weather. Having multiple means to receive warnings of an emergency will ensure that you have as much advanced notice as possible. Always remember, when a warning is issued, take action immediately to protect yourself and your family.
Preparedness is the key to communities successfully weathering a disaster. Individuals and families that make a plan, build a kit, and stay informed will be prepared and minimize the impacts of potential disaster situations. Additional preparedness information can be found throughout our webpage or through FEMA at http://www.ready.gov/.
Wildfire Preparedness Tips
Drought and dry conditions throughout this area have once again created the risk for wildfires. Careless use of fire can dramatically increase the chance of a wildfire, which can quickly spread across dry vegetation and threaten homes and businesses that are in the vicinity.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed and spread quickly. Every second counts! Reduce your risk by preparing now. Talk with members of your household about wildfires, how to prevent them, and what to do if one occurs.
Help prevent wildfires and be ready in case one does occur near you. The following are some things you can do to prepare for a wildfire:
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communication plan. Post fire and other emergency telephone numbers.
- Remove any debris, dead shrubs or bushes form around your home.
- Keep yards cut short.
- Clean rain gutters and remove any debris from your roof.
- Clear items which could burn from around the house. Wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc should be moved outside of your defensible space.
- Be sure that large fire vehicles can access your home and clearly mark all driveways with your address.
- Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
- Teach children about fire safety.
- Plan escape routes in a car and on foot.
- Know your neighbors, their skills, and what their plans will be when danger is imminent.
- Always obey the law and check for local burn bans before setting a fire.
- Know what to do with any animals on the property and how you will rescue them quickly.
Some good resources for more information: