September is National Preparedness Month! This provides a great reminder that we must prepare for ourselves, our businesses, and our families now and throughout the year for natural and man-made disasters.

Life altering natural and man-made disasters can happen across the United States, including in our community. Living in Colorado Springs, this may hit close to home as many remember the devastating Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012 and the Black Forest Fire in 2013.

While it is important to prepare for a threatening fire, we should be aware of and prepare for other hazards present in the Pikes Peak Region as well. These include flooding, landslides, and severe weather events. It is important for us all to take steps to prepare for each of these hazards present in our community, as we won’t be provided with a warning when danger is imminent.

When making a preparedness plan for a business, there are many required components, such as a communication plan, testing of the plan, continuity of operations plan, and following the applicable regulatory agency guidelines. This will require time and resources of the business to be fully prepared in the event of an emergency.

While making a preparedness plan for yourself and your family may not take as many resources as a business, this will still require your own time and resources to complete.

Flood DevastationComponents to Consider

There are several important components to include in your preparedness plan, some of which you may not havethought of.

For instance, you must consider the specific needs of your household. If you have elderly individuals at home, how will they be provided assistance in leaving the home? Will it be someone’s responsibility to ensure they are safely out of the home? How will that individual be notified in a disaster to assist that individual? Is there a backup in place?

Have you considered dietary needs? If someone in your home is diabetic and needs insulin, how will that be provided to them? What about other medical needs and equipment?

Have you taken into consideration your pets? If there is a fire and you need to stay at a shelter, where will your pets go? How will you ensure that your pets are safely removed from your home?

It may be life-saving to prepare now by putting together an emergency preparedness kit. Items to consider include water, non-perishable and easy to prepare food, flashlight, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, a first aid kit, medical supplies, personal hygiene items, family and emergency contact information, and an emergency blanket.

Emergency Alerts 

You should be prepared on how to obtain Emergency Alerts. Depending on the situation, you may need to stay tuned in for directions or guidance from local public authorities or in larger cases sometimes even the President.

Here are a few key ways emergency alerts and updates are shared:

Wireless Emergency Alerts. These alerts are issued through your mobile device and include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take for the alert, and the agency issuing the alert. These alerts are not charged to the individual and there is no need to subscribe to them.

Emergency Alert System. This method is a national public warning system which is distributed through broadcasters, cable television systems, and so on.

NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). This method is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.

Tuning into and looking out for alerts from one of these three can prove very helpful in an emergency or disaster scenario. These outlets can provide you with information on road closures, shelters in your community to go to, places to avoid, and when the situation may be resolved.

After Evacuation

 It is important to understand that after an evacuation, you should expect and prepare for disruptions to daily activities. It is recommended to contact familyto let them know you are safe, with the understanding that phone lines may be tied up for communication due to the disaster.

It may seem overwhelming to think through a natural or man-made disaster occurring in your community. When a disaster arrives, you will not be given much notice, if any, and when the time comes you will be thankful you have prepared to the best of your ability.

About the author

Jessica Petty
Practice Renewal Director at 719-591-2424

Jessica Petty is the Practice Renewal Director at the El Paso County Medical Society, powered by ProPractice, where they provide education, services, and other resources that help physicians focus on patient care instead of paperwork.

El Paso County Medical Society, powered by ProPractice
1465 Kelly Johnson Blvd., Suite 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80920