Security is a component of everyday life that one spending time in Washington, D.C., gets accustomed to. Metal detectors, police vehicle barriers and heavily-armed police officers become strangely commonplace after awhile. In some ways, it’s just as easy to become complacent when it comes to personal security in Washington as in many parts of Idaho where the threat seems less. And that’s the point—on the surface, our nation’s Capital is a logical target, but terrorists also see schools, malls and public transportation in rural areas as high-value targets. For this reason, all Idahoans must remain vigilant. We are gifted with freedom, but with that freedom comes the reality of the unknown and the responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and on guard against those who would do us harm.
September is National Preparedness Month. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the American Red Cross have teamed up on a public awareness campaign encouraging Americans to prepare for emergencies and disasters. The message of preparedness is nothing new to our country, but threats are much more specific and the possibilities of what type of disaster could befall us are more clearly defined than in the past. The good news is that with more information about specific threats, we have the ability to hone personal and community preparedness for these events.
DHS and the Red Cross recommend that families keep a set of supplies that will last for three days in case of an emergency. This “kit” should contain food, water, battery powered flashlight and radio and first aid supplies. Water is especially important, and a gallon per day per person is the recommended amount for consumption and sanitation. Sick and elderly individuals may require more. Food should be non-perishable and require little or no water in preparation.
A major part of being prepared is having a plan. Local calls don’t always work in the immediate vicinity of a disaster, so it’s important to have an out-of-town contact with whom the entire family can check-in. Every family member should have coins for a payphone and a pre-paid phone card. Families should make a contact plan and have a centralized meeting place with one or two back-up meeting places. It’s also a good idea to research emergency plans for places where you and your family spend time during the day such as work and school. Know the type of disasters or emergencies that are likely in your community. Your local Red Cross chapter will have this information.
Another valuable resource available for Idahoans is the Citizen Corps. These volunteers dedicate time and energy to become informed about being a safety and rescue resource in an emergency. Citizen Corps was launched in January 2002, under the USA Freedom Corps Initiative. Idaho is at the forefront of the Citizen Corps movement and currently boasts a State Council, seven county councils and the Nez Perce Tribal council.
In particular, Idahoans are involved in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program, which trains people in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue and disaster medical operations. The primary reason for CERT training is to give people the decision-making, organizational and practical skills to offer immediate assistance to family members and neighbors while waiting for help.
As you prepare for the many things that fall brings such as school, harvest and winter, it is important to be prepared for the unthinkable. Supplies and a plan will significantly reduce panic and chaos in the event of an emergency. For more information, please see the link for “Ready.gov” at my website: http://crapo.senate.gov.
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