COLLEGE STATION – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is supporting National Preparedness Month efforts by asking Texans to ready their families, businesses and communities for a disaster or emergency.
“AgriLife Extension is focusing even greater attention on disaster preparedness during September, as this month has been designated National Preparedness Month,” said Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension family development and resource specialist in College Station. “Our goal is to increase public awareness on how to protect against, prepare for and recover from an emergency or disaster.”
Cavanagh said she hopes Texans will expand this awareness into taking action toward protecting themselves, their families and their businesses.
She said AgriLife Extension provides objective, research-based information, typically at no cost, to help people with emergency and disaster preparation and recovery. Materials are available through two agency-related websites, as well as through agency personnel in county offices throughout the state.
The Texas Extension Disaster Education Network, or Texas EDEN, http://texashelp.tamu.edu, has information and materials on specific disasters, including drought, hurricanes and wildfire, as well as information on disaster preparation and recovery.
The AgriLife Bookstore website at http://agrilifebookstore.org has a variety of emergency and disaster-related materials, including publications on general preparedness, first aid and home, property and financial recovery.
“Most materials from these sites may be downloaded and printed free of charge, and several are available in Spanish,” Cavanagh said. “And many of our preparedness and recovery publications are also available in e-book format for downloading from Texas EDEN to mobile devices like smart phones, tablets and electronic readers.”
She noted the comprehensive AgriLife Extension and Texas Department of State Health Services co-authored publication “Preparing for the Unexpected” is among those available on both websites and that a PDF version may be downloaded free of charge.
“There are numerous considerations before, during and after an emergency or disaster, and each disaster has its own unique personality and set of challenges,” she said.
Cavanagh said families should map out an evacuation plan ahead of time and practice it.
“They should also have an emergency kit for their home, office and each vehicle, and definitely should know where to go in case of an emergency,” she said. “The evacuation plan should cover escape routes, utility shutoff and safety information, family communication and protecting important documents.”
Cavanagh said an emergency kit should contain enough supplies to take care of the immediate family for at least three days. Some essential kit contents she identified included water, non-perishable foods, a hand-operated can opener, mouth/nose protection masks, extra clothing, a first-aid kit, gloves, blankets, toiletries, a battery- or hand-powered flashlight, a weather radio, spare batteries, garbage bags, medications and anti-bacterial cleaners or wipes.
“A number of safety issues also arise when returning to a home or business after a disaster, including possible structural damage, damage to electrical wires or gas lines, and the risk of contaminated water,” she said. “After surviving a disaster, people should also be aware of the new dangers that crop up and take the necessary safety measures to ensure they survive the recovery phase too.”
For more information on available publications, go to the AgriLife Bookstore or Texas EDEN website. Additional information on preparedness may be found at FEMA’s http://ready.gov website or its Spanish-language counterpart, http://listo.gov.