One in four families do not believe it is necessary to prepare for emergencies. And of those that do, 40 percent aren’t sure how to go about it, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
March is National Preparedness Month, and state health officials couldn’t think of a better time to launch a new program, “Ready In 3.”
In case of natural disasters or terrorist attacks, the state wants its citizens to be prepared, said Richard Dunn, director of the DHSS. At a press conference last week, Dunn explained that a great deal of thought and research went into preparing the program. He said he hopes it will get Missourians thinking.
“Everyone needs a plan and supplies that can sustain them in the time before emergency personnel can help,” Dunn said, “and everyone needs a device to listen to or watch to find out what is happening.”
Dunn said “Ready In 3” involves three easy steps: Have a plan, prepare an emergency kit, and listen for information about what to do and where to go during an emergency.
The three steps and other useful information about the program are found in “Family Safety Guide,” a free booklet created to educate Missourians. The booklets can be ordered online at www.dhss.mo.gov, by calling 573-751-6062 or by visiting your local health department.
“Our goal is for everyone in the state of Missouri to have these on their shelf,” Dunn said.
In Columbia, the booklets are also available at Hyvee, Gerbes and all Wal-Mart stores. Each store is displaying an example of a proper safety kit, which should include water, canned or dried food, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, prescription medicines and a first-aid kit.
Heather Baer, public information specialist for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health, says the department will be working with as many local community groups as possible to make sure everyone has the materials they need.
“It only takes about an hour to prepare an emergency kit,” Baer said.
The “Ready In 3” campaign is geared toward helping people prepare for all kinds of disasters, including severe weather. Last May, tornadoes affected 60,000 residents in 76 counties, according to the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.
Baer said the availability of the “Ready In 3” materials should help prepare residents when severe weather becomes a problem again this year.
But, Baer pointed out, disaster preparedness is important, no matter what time of year.
“Emergencies don’t have a season,” she said.