September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s theme – Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can. – has never resonated more as multiple states recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and hundreds of thousands of people prepare for the potential impact of more storms. In Southern Nevada, potential emergencies can include natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, wildfires, extreme heat, and storms as well as manmade events like terrorism or explosions. The Southern Nevada Health District is encouraging all families, businesses, schools, and other community members to develop emergency preparedness plans.

If an emergency were to happen, a family’s emergency preparedness kit would provide them with essential items to sustain them while they sheltered in place, until help could arrive, or could be mobilized if they needed to evacuate. A kit can be assembled over several months simply by adding one or two items to a grocery list. The Health District has 2018 preparedness calendars that can assist families to develop their plans and gather supplies over the course of a year. Kits should be developed to meet the needs of individual families, especially if they include older adults, babies, people with special needs, and pets.

A kit can be contained in a new, large container, a backpack, or a suitcase. It should include food, water, a first aid kit, tools, copies of important documents, clothing and bedding, medications, and pet supplies. A household preparedness kit should include enough supplies to sustain everyone in the household for as many as three days or more. There should also be supplemental go-kits that families can grab in the event of an evacuation.

The Health District’s recommendations for a family emergency preparedness kit include:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Toiletries, including soap and hand sanitizer
  • First-aid kit
  • Baby formula and diapers
  • Extra eyeglasses
  • Pet food/medications/leashes/collars/ID tags
  • Extra batteries for flashlight(s) and radio(s)
  • Garbage bags
  • Cash
  • A flash drive with important documents and/or photos
  • Non-perishable food, ready-to-eat canned meats, soups, fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, protein bars, utensils, can openers, sterno heating
  • One gallon of water per person per day and fluids with electrolytes

A key component of any family emergency plan should include a variety of communication options. The Health District recommends families take steps to:

  • Create and practice a communications plan
  • Ensure older family members can communicate with you
  • Designate an out-of-town contact everyone can call
  • Learn the emergency and communication plans for your children’s schools
  • Download a group texting app that family members can use before, during, and after an emergency

Don’t forget to prepare for pets. Many shelters might not be able to accommodate pets. Before an emergency occurs, check hotels, motels, or shelters to see which will be able to accept pets. Prepare a kit for pets as well and remember to include any medical information or supplies, leashes, food, and toys. Check with your vet about the pet carrier that is appropriate for your animal and microchip pets so you can find them if you are separated.

Information, tips, preparedness calendars, and more can be found on the Health District’s Emergency Preparedness webpage as well as the website.

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