At one time, disaster preparedness was only the concern of residents of hurricane-prone areas such as the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic seaboard, or residents of earth-quake-prone California, or those who live in that part of the country known as "Tornado Alley."
This is no longer the case. Times have changed, and we must now prepare for manmade disasters as well as those created by Mother Nature.
When seconds count, knowing what to do can make all the difference in the world.
With this in mind, the Bossier Sheriff Disaster Immediate Response Team (D.I.R.T.) was formed in 2002. This 50-man team is ready to respond with heavy equipment on a moment's notice in the event of a disaster in our parish. We also have emergency volunteers throughout the parish ready to assist our department in case a disaster strikes.
We are safer in Bossier than in many places across our land, but I join with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in encouraging residents to create their own family emergency plans. These plans will allow families to know how to communicate with each other in the event of an emergency.
The Department of Homeland Security's "Ready" campaign encourages Americans to develop a family emergency plan to be used in case of a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or another emergency.
You have probably already seen the television ads now airing which feature children questioning parents about what to do in the event of an emergency.
While there is no way to predict the future, there are some simple things you can do now to prepare yourself and your loved ones for an emergency, either manmade or natural. Those things include assembling a supply kit and creating a family communications plan.
Survival depends on water, food and clean air--the basics. They are absolutely essential, and assembling emergency supplies for a manmade disaster is not altogether different from putting one together for a natural disaster. Think in terms of what you might do if a hurricane were headed toward the state.
I support the U.S. Department of Homeland security in recommending the following items for a basic emergency preparedness kit:
- Water, one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable items.
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
- First aid kit.
- Whistle, to signal for help and attract attention.
- Dust mask or cotton T-shirt to help filter the air.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- Can opener for food, if kit contains canned food.
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to create a shelter-in-place.
- Infant formula and diapers if you have an infant.
- Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- A sleeping bag or blanket for each person.
- One complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including a jacket or coat, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sturdy shoes and gloves.
Here are some additional items you may wish to include in your supply kit:
- Emergency reference materials, such as a first aid book or a printout of this information.
- Rain gear.
- Disposable cups, plates and utensils.
- Cash or traveler's checks, change.
- Paper towels.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Matches in a waterproof container.
- Signal flare.
- Paper and pencil.
- Medicine dropper.
- Feminine supplies.
- Personal hygiene items.
- Household chlorine bleach.
Bleach can be used as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency, it can also be used to purify water.
Do not forget to keep copies of important family records such as insurance policies and identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
It is not known whether your family will be together if a disaster occurs, so create a family plan so all of you will know how to contact each other. Go over what you will do in various situations.
Be certain that all family members know contact phone numbers and have coins or pre-paid phone cards to call those emergency contacts.
Our best defense against disasters, manmade or natural, is to take precautions well in advance. Don't delay.
Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry C. Deen’s column appears weekly in the Bossier Press-Tribune.