Plan and Prepare for Emergency Situations

Today our region faces a number of natural and man-made threats such as flooding, tornadoes, and acts of terrorism. In observance of September being National Preparedness Month, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department recommends that residents take action now to prepare for these potential events.

“The anniversary of September 11th and the recent flooding in Louisiana serve as reminders of the importance of being prepared for an emergency,” says Sabrina Novak, Emergency Response Coordinator at the Health Department, “It is critical that citizens take responsibility by preparing themselves and their family for disaster situations that could arise.”

The following recommendations are “all-hazard,” meaning these steps would serve well for nearly any threat that may arise.

1. Make a Kit

During a disaster. it’s possible that things we use every day will not be working, such as water, electricity, grocery stores, or telephones. A disaster kit is a collection of items that should meet your basic needs for at least 3 days. We provide a suggested kit on our website here. In addition to a kit for your home, consider one for your car or work. Check expiration dates and update your kit whenever you change your clocks for daylight saving time.

2. Make a Plan

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to agree on decisions beforehand. Know how you will contact one another and how you will get back together. Also, discuss with your family what they are to do in different situations (even kids at school). It is a good idea to have an out of town contact so that separated family members can better communicate. Consider the functional needs of impaired persons, such as equipment for hearing, sight, breathing, or mobility needs. Review the emergency plans at your work, school, or daycare.

3. Be Informed

Stay tuned for the latest information using television and radio, social media, and the public warning systems (such as the weather warnings received on your cell phone).  Be sure your information is from recognized authorities and beware of scammers.  It’s also important to learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. Plan for a way to recharge your communication devices. 

4. Get Involved

Emergencies draw numerous volunteers who can be helpful yet lack organization or affiliation.  There are ways you can get involved before a crisis happens. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department organizes a local chapter of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Volunteer Program.  Any person with an interest in helping our community can volunteer. Volunteers can be active or inactive/retired health care professionals or can be persons in a non-medical field. Even students can volunteer, but must be 18 years of age or older. Your skills, expertise, and desire to serve will determine what role you may play in keeping our community safe and healthy.

Just a few hours of preparing will be invaluable during a time of crisis. Individuals should take these important preparedness steps in order to greatly improve their ability to survive and recover from all types of emergencies, whether natural or man-made. 

For more information on becoming ready, call the Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness and Planning program at (423) 209-8074. Important local, state, and federal resources include Hamilton County Emergency Management, Tennessee Department of Health Emergency Preparedness, and ready.gov