Category Archives: Families and Communities

Meet a Delegate Monday: Becky Koch

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Becky Koch who will be presenting at the EDEN Annual Meeting.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?

Becky Koch March 2011After the 1993 Mississippi and Missouri River floods, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois got a grant from what is now the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study what they and other states could learn from the flood experience. They wanted to study how we could learn from each other, so each state did not have to start from scratch after a disaster like this. They sent letters to every extension director about a discussion meeting in Kansas City, asking each North Central Region state to send a representative. The NDSU Extension Service interim director came to me with this letter, stating that they needed communications people at this meeting and asked if I wanted to go. My first response,was, “disasters? That has nothing to with what I do.” But it was a free trip home for me, so I went to the meeting. Little did I know how much that spoof of an experience would impact my career and my life. I had no idea how important those connections and lessons learned would be beneficial three years down the road when North Dakota flooded. There was not an EDEN website in ‘97 when we flooded, so I emailed people every day for weeks with questions. I realized how important that network of states was when we experienced this similar disaster and I could turn to them.

2. In your opinion what is the most important part of preparing a business for a disaster?
One of the most important steps is having a communications plan. I’m responsible for 25 people in my department. I have not done everything I could for my “business” but we have a communications plan. Everybody knows how to learn if the university is going to be closed. We have talked about each of us taking individual responsibility to know what’s going on because I won’t have time to call everyone or the phones might be down. We also talk about being prepared at home. The university does fire drills, but they had never done a tornado drill, so we did a tornado drill to practice sheltering in place in addition to evacuating. Practicing where to go is so very important. A communications plan with staff and drills to practice the basics are necessary for any business to prepare for a disaster.

3. Can you tell us a little about your EDEN meeting material?
NDSU received a NIFA Smith-Lever Special Needs grant to develop an app for both Android and Apple smartphones and tablets to help businesses develop their disaster preparedness plans. The first question we always get is, “why do you need that as an app? All that information is online.” The nice thing about the app is that the business owner/manager can walk around the office, take pictures of equipment, write in what piece of equipment it is and when it was bought, and take inventory for a disaster. The app will make it easier, which will hopefully motivate small businesses to actually develop a plan. At the EDEN meeting, we will ask for volunteers to test the app, along with students in NDSU’s Emergency Management major.

4. Can you tell us about your role in handling disasters in North Dakota?
The disaster we get the most in North Dakota is flooding. We get blizzards, but the only thing you can do for those is prepare and shelter in place. We promote blizzard preparedness ,such as having a winter survival kit in your car, downloading our Winter Survival Kit app, keeping an emergency kit at home. It is easier to sell preparedness up here, because people have been stuck at home during a blizzard, so they take it more seriously. As a communicator, I send out news releases and notifications to our own staff. I also work very closely with Ken Hellevang to review what flood resources are online, and what else we need to post. We figure out what to send to the staff and public to get the word out about flooding that is occurring and how to be prepared and how to recover. I also work very closely with the subject matter experts, no matter the disaster, to see if other states have resources through EDEN or to help them create resources to give out to our staff or the public.

5. What piece of advice would you give to our delegates?
Utilize the network. I was at the meeting where we came up with the name Extension Disaster Education Network, and “network” truly is the perfect word. It is so important for us to work together, to ask questions of each other, to share resources, and to make sure we are telling the same story across state lines. Utilize the network: do not be afraid to just send out an email if you need information. Do not just wait for information to come to you, but reach out to others who might provide information and resources pertinent to your state and situation. Also utilize the courses online. You do not have to be an expert on something to teach it. Those courses provide the background and information you need to help you teach others about those topics.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Traci Naile

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Traci Naile, who will be presenting at the EDEN Annual Meeting.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?
I believe I first got involved when I was a PhD student, profile-photoand was looking into doing disaster work; I saw materials from EDEN. I was able to really get involved when I finished my PhD and started working at Texas A&M. I was able to attend my first conference while I was working at A&M, and have been going ever since.

2. Can you tell us about the study concerning incidence response planning at livestock shows?
That study was conducted by one of my graduate students at A&M. she wanted to find out what managers of large livestock shows knew and had done about incident planning. She wanted to find out if people on the government side know what was going on at the livestock side, and whether the show managers had actually talked to government partners in case something happened. She did interviews with big broad questions, and received great feedback about different things you have to think about when you are planning for shows, whether you are on the municipal side or the show side. One of the important things that came out of this study was the importance of communication. We will talk all about that at the EDEN Meeting, along with the other themes from the interview.

3. Can you tell us about the emergency management training requirements for Cooperative Extension personnel?
We sent a survey out to the EDEN Delegate listserve to find out what training requirements are in each state, and what EDEN professionals think should or should not be included. There is a lot of variability across states, so we wanted to find out why; why there is some training required and other training is not. We confirmed, with data, that the training requirements are widespread. Because of this survey we have a better sense of what training is required, what resources are used, and how EDEN delegates think we should be delivering disaster related training to Extension professionals.

4. Can you tell us a little about your involvement in disaster response experience in Oklahoma?
I am a Red Cross volunteer, and am specifically a local government liaison. I also work in operations management in bigger disaster responses. I have, both fortunately and unfortunately, been able to work disasters, and am fairly involved in that aspect. I also do other things related to the Red Cross: I am a volunteer leader for our chapter, on the local level. With that role I am the liaison to the county emergency response team, which has not been able to go out on anything yet because it just got started. But I am the go-between for the county team and the local Red Cross for setting up shelters and scheduling co-training. Another thing I do within our Red Cross region, Central Western Oklahoma, is the volunteer counterpart to the Senior Disaster Program Manager. I help plan events such as a mass care exercise for October and a statewide emergency management exercise. I also help train people on the new Red Cross procedures for responses. I am the subject matter expert for a training work group for the Red Cross divisional level, South Western Rocky Mountain division. So between all of these positions, I am very involved in preparing my area for a disaster.

5. What advice would you give to our delegates about the importance of communication before, during, and after a disaster?
It is absolutely vital! A big part is figuring out what communication means in the context of disasters. To me, communication is across partners and internally within an organization. Also having the people you work with trained to talk to partners. A lot of those beliefs come from my Red Cross background. In Oklahoma, we do not have a very cohesive response system because there is a lot of overlap. If you are communicating with all the other people preparing for a response, or in the recovery period after a response, it will be that much more efficient, and effective. For me that is where that communication piece comes in, and a large part of that is networking; making sure that you are clear internally and externally, have plans in place, and have worked to develop those relationships because they will be necessary when a disaster happens. That communication piece is extremely vital, because no one who is responding to a disaster can be expected to do everything, and do it effectively.

USDA Offers Disaster Assistance and Information on Disaster Programs

fire and clouds of smokeDid you see USDA’s September 2 press release? With this release, USDA is encouraging livestock producers who suffered eligible disaster-related losses to enroll in the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) by October 1. If livestock producers experienced grazing losses as far back as October 2011, they may be eligible for benefits. Grazing losses must be due to qualifying drought or fire-related condition during the normal grazing period for the county. The program is offered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA).

In addition to LFP, USDA provides many other programs to farmers during an emergency or disaster. They are offered through the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Rural Development (RD), and Risk Management Agency (RMA).

This printable brochure  from USDA offers a brief description of each program. Download it for quick reference to nineteen  disaster-related USDA programs.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Scott Cotton

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Scott Cotton, who has two upcoming webinars.

Scott Cotton1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?
In 1997 Colorado had a large blizzard that swept across 22 counties and killed 35,800 head of cattle. The response to the blizzard was not ideal; it took about eight weeks to identify the livestock owners and dispose of the mass mortalities. The Animal Emergency Task Force was formed in response to the blizzard; it includes state and federal veterinarians, extension personnel, and brand inspectors. One of the university officials came to us and mentioned that we should get involved with EDEN. Since I had a background in emergency services, they sent me to find out more information. It was the third EDEN meeting, 11 people attended, but it was a helpful experience. When I returned to Colorado we decided to join EDEN, and that I should be the point of contact.

2. You have been with Extension in a few states (Colorado, Nebraska, and now Wyoming)? Have there been variations in the kinds of disasters and the preparedness needs of the people in the areas you have served? What are they?
The areas I work in are predominantly cow-calf, and dry-land farming areas, and it’s been that way in all three states I worked in. I experienced a lot of similarities, the differences are in each state’s structure and how they dovetail together with efforts to educate and develop resilience is dramatically different. In each state, each agency might have completely different roles.

Each state system is different, and yet similar. The reality of extension is continuity across the United States. Each area within the state is also different; my emphasis has always been the rural areas, where there is less readiness but more resilience. This is because ranchers and farmers are very self-sufficient; they are strong on neighboring, and helping each other recover. The drawback is when rural areas experience large disasters their resources are so small they get overwhelmed almost instantly. That’s where my big push has been over the last 20 years; to help livestock producers and farmers become more prepared and resilient.

In 1964, there was a national disaster guideline book sent out to extension offices that mentioned, especially in the western states, after a disaster the sheriff and extension will manage the disaster. A lot of our employees do not realize they may be called upon to respond to a disaster, but the community depends on it. Everything we do has a bearing on our community’s ability to recover.

3. You’ll be co-presenting two webinars this month. Tell us about them.
This month we are doing two webinars, both related to horses and disasters. Over my past 40 years I have had experience as a rural firefighter, EMT, and deputy sheriff. I then moved into extension where our role with responses is actually bigger than some people realize. We often end up assisting or coordinating shelters, evacuation patterns, and finding resources for disasters. I am using some of that experience to present with HorseQuest, an equine specialist group across the United States, two seminars: one targeting horse owners and the second targeting extension personnel. The first webinar will be focused on what owners can do to help their horses survive a disaster. We’ll talk about practice loading horses, having a predetermined evacuation route, having the right information in your horse trailer, having a horse trailer, knowing how to get out under different types of disasters, and more.

The second webinar will be using some of my experiences to help extension professionals. We will talk about experiences in Incident Command System and Strengthening Community Agrosecurity Preparedness Project. We will also talk about when extension professionals might be called upon to help plan disaster evacuation routes, providing educational materials about disasters with horses, including how to assess the impact area of a disaster, how to find where extension best fits into the emergency services role in their community, how to use our resources to help mitigate some disaster to horse owners.

4. As a veteran EDEN delegate, what advice do you have for new delegates?
Build your contact framework, because you will need it! The reality is that when a disaster occurs in your state it is not protocols and paper, it is relationships that help. It is everyone understanding their role, their resources and expertise available, and being ready to interact with each other. The most successful way to do that is to have a comfort level with the other agencies, organizations, and people in the community. Then when something happens there is a trust level, where they know you will help. The communities themselves will always recognize Extension stepping forward and taking an active role.

The people we work with are absolutely amazing. It does not matter if I have a flood and need to call Pat Skinner or Becky Koch, or a disease outbreak and need to call someone, or even after 9/11 when we bounced messages all across the nation. The group works together, they are very much a team even though we are scattered clean across the states, so use that to your advantage.

 

 

If you are interested in the webinar for horse owners (September 16 at 7pm ET) register here.

If you are interested in the webinar for Extension professionals (September 19 at 1 pm ET) register here.

5 Tips for College Campus Safety

Tips about Returning to Campus Safety

Written by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant.

Safety is an integral part of the world we live in, and that is no different for students on a college campus. These tips should help parents and college students feel safer and more secure about starting college for the first time or returning to their campus home.

1. Know the look and location of campus emergency telephones.                         download (1)

Almost all college campuses have emergency telephones located throughout the campus. You should know the general location and look of these phones before anything happens. In the event that someone is following you, press all the emergency phone buttons you pass along the way so that the campus police can track you and find you quickly.

2. Locate safe zones.                                                                

Locate where to go during a natural disaster in the buildings you will be spending the majority of your time, such as: where your classes are and the student center or cafeteria. Most campuses have posters or decals on the walls of places that are safe during a tornado or other natural disaster. Knowing this before a warning or watch is issued will help you calmly get to the safe location.

3. Pack an emergency kit.

This kit can be a small one that you can carry in your backpack: It actually is better if it is small, because that makes it easier to carry. Make sure you comply with your campus rules when preparing this kit, such as some campuses do not allow knives. Some good items to include in your kit are: a phone charger, a whistle to help emergency officials locate you, granola bars, bottle of water, a miniature flashlight, a campus and local map, a paper list of emergency numbers: relatives, roommates, Resident Assistant, and apartment managers.

4. Utilize the age old “Buddy System”

You may think you are too old or too cool for the buddy system, but the truth is it really could help keep you safe; plus it is fun to hang out with friends. If there are two or more downloadpeople together walking around campus, they are more likely to stay safe; because they are more alert to each other and the surroundings, and the likelihood of an aggressor confronting two people is lower than one person. Use this rule especially when walking around campus late at night or attending parties. If your school offers a free ride service, use that anytime you need to travel around campus at night.

5. Know how to react during an emergency.

Auburn University Department of Public Safety released a video demonstrating what to do if there is an active shooter on campus, it is beneficial for every college student to watch. The acronym used in the video is ALICE: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The letters do not have to be used in this order, the situation determines what should be done. Alert refers to how you learn about the danger. Lockdown refers to locking and barricading the door between you and the aggressor. Inform refers to telling the authorities where you are and where the aggressor is. Counter should be used if the aggressor makes it into your safe area. Do not just hide. Distract and disrupt the aggressor by throwing whatever is at your disposal: bookbags, books, desks, or whatever is within reach. The police suggest that Evacuate is the best option; remove yourself and anyone else from harms way if at all possible.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Jamie Rathbun

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Jamie Rathbun, who will have a breakout session at the EDEN Annual Meeting.

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN?portraitweb

Kansas State Research & Extension’s Point of Contact (POC), Mary Lou Peter, knew that I had been involved in emergency preparedness efforts, so she recruited me to be a delegate. I receive EDEN emails and soak in and save much of the information. I keep note of the resources so that if Kansas ever needs it we will have resources or know who will be the best contact in certain situations. Also, if a question arises and Kansas has resources related to that topic I will respond with those.

2. Kansas has experienced several disasters in the past few years. What has been your role in helping people recover?

I serve as an extension agent two counties that have been lucky and haven’t experienced larger natural disasters. I have done timely news releases before tornado season starts, so that people know what to put in emergency kits. When a community disaster happens, I make sure that we get the message of preparedness out. We had a large downtown fire a couple years ago, so I wrote newspaper articles, about updating inventory and insurance policies, and other preparedness tips.

3. Without giving away your presentation for the 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting, can you tell us about Prepare Kansas?

Some coworkers and I wrote a lesson for Kansas titled Get Financially Prepared: Take Steps Ahead of Disaster. The lesson focuses on having an inventory, making sure insurance is up-to-date, and having a “grab and go kit” prepared. As it was taught across the state, we realized that we can talk to people about these steps, but they might not be motivated to inventory their home. For that motivation, we developed Prepare Kansas, to challenge our constituents across the state through the month of September. Each week during the month, they will have two challenges to complete that will help increase preparedness.

At the EDEN Annual Meeting, we are planning on outlining how we started, where we are headed, and how we plan to keep it fresh. We will also provide information in case anyone wants to implement something similar in their own states.

4. Do you have a favorite resource on financial disaster recovery?

The K-State Research & Extension lesson that I co-wrote, Get Financially Prepared. I also like to use a publication from University of Missouri Extension, Family Disaster Plan. I know it helped me in preparing a “grab and go kit” for my own home.

5. What is your financial advice to people who have never experienced a disaster?

The most important thing is to be organized. It is ideal to have the organization in place ahead of a disaster, for example having a completed home inventory. Organization is important after a disaster as well. Having a system to keep receipts of anything paid or purchased and of financial assistance a person receives to aid in the cleanup process is necessary. These documents are important for insurance and tax purposes after a disaster. Being organized is the goal of the Prepare Kansas challenge.

Three Disaster Preparedness Games for Children

Prepared by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant. 

Opening page graphic for Disaster Masters online gameDisaster Master is an 8-level game that tests children’s knowledge about how to react before, during, and after a disaster. The player must answer questions correctly to accumulate enough points to unlock the next level, which include: wildfire, tornado, hurricane/blackout, home fire, winter storm, tsunami/earthquake, thunderstorm/lightning, and the hot seat. Each level tells a story and asks multiple choice questions about what the characters should do to survive the disaster. If the question is answered correctly the player continues to the next level, but if it is answered incorrectly the game could be ended. A graphic novel is also available to print after every level. This game is an easy, entertaining, and engaging way to help teach your children about what to do to prepare for an emergency. A Spanish version is also available.

Opening screen shot of the Build a Kit online gameBuild a Kit  places you in multiple scenarios and tells you to pick items to place in your emergency kit. Once you submit your items it tells you what you have included and what you forgotten. You can print your list at the end of the game. This game, available in English and Spanish, is a quick and easy way for children to begin learning what goes into an emergency kit so they can help prepare for a disaster.

Disaster Hero is a multilevel video game that tests children’s (grades 1 through 8) knowledge about natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Disaster Hero allows the player to choose an experience level, and then launches into an age appropriate narration. Each level contains games pertaining to what to do before, during and after each disaster, including: make a kit, get to a safe room, stay informed, clean up, and first aid. In each game questions pertaining to the disaster at hand are asked, and points are given for correct answers. Each disaster has a bonus round where the knowledge about that disaster is tested once again. This game is an interesting and entertaining way to help your children solidify what they should do before, during, and after a natural disaster.

 

 

Four Tips for Back to School Safety

Written by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant.

1. Add an emergency supply kit to your child’s book bag or locker.
Back-to-School-Internet-Safety
You know you need an emergency supply kit at home. Do you know that  having a kit for your child at school is also important? The kit may come in handy if the school goes on lockdown or if there is another disaster or emergency. Make sure everything in the kit is allowed. Most schools do not allow knives on campus or medicine outside the nurse’s office.
Include emergency contact information cards in your child’s kit, book bag, or another accessible location. Even though your child may be old enough to memorize emergency contact numbers, he or she might forget the number during an emergency, or might be in a situation where someone else needs to call.

2. Use a map to mark your child’s school route, designating safe zones where he or she can get help during an emergency.
If your child is walking or riding a bike to school show him or her the way a few times. The child should be comfortable taking the route. Remind him or her that shortcuts are not permitted. Point out places along the way that offer shelter if there is ever bad weather, or some other threat. These places could be other schools, community centers, libraries, or friends’ houses. Having these safe zones will make you and your child feel more secure on the journey to and from school.

3. Review the school’s safety plan with your child.
Most schools are now required to post tornado and fire evacuation routes in every classroom. In addition, each school will have an emergency operations plan. You can ask the school principal for a copy. Also ask what plans they have in place to protect against intruders.

4. Teach your child how to react in an emergency.
Teachers cannot always protect children when things go wrong. Talk to your child about these events without using fear tactics, and explain what he or she should do in similar situations. For example, your child should know what to do if a person shoots a gun on the school grounds or in the building. Students of varying ages will benefit from the Auburn University Department of Public Safety video demonstrating what to do if there is an active shooter nearby. Teach your child about ALICE; it may keep him or her safe.

ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The letters do not have to be used in this order, the situation determines what should be done. Alert refers to how you learn about the danger. Lockdown refers to locking and barricading the door between you and the aggressor. Inform refers to telling the authorities where you are and where the aggressor is. Counter should be used if the aggressor makes it into your safe area. Do not just hide. Distract and disrupt the aggressor by throwing whatever is at your disposal: bookbags, books, desks, or whatever is within reach. The police suggest that Evacuate is the best option; remove yourself and anyone else from harms way if at all possible.

For more resources about helping children before and after disasters visit this website.

Meet a Delegate Monday: Andy Vestal

Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant, recently interviewed EDEN delegate Dr. Andy Vestal, who will have a breakout session at the EDEN Annual Meeting. 

1. How did you first get involved with EDEN? Dr. Andy Vestal

I got involved in EDEN about a month before Hurricane Katrina, in July of 2005. I was immediately led to the effort because of a six-year grant for animal disease and homeland security response and recovery. Within a month of being in this position, Hurricane Katrina hit followed by Hurricane Rita, and we realized we had a lot to do preparedness-wise. The fall of 2005 was my first visit to the EDEN Annual Meeting in Fargo, North Dakota. It was an experience for me to see the overall mission and goals of the organization: to help people help themselves.

2. Without divulging too much of your annual meeting material, can you tell us how the strike teams were formed?

After any incident an after action report is filed. After [Hurricane] Ike the report stated there was high priority to establish mission ready teams of seasoned County Extension Agents, CEA, that were deployable. The first teams were established in the Gulf Coast, where 7 million Texans live.

3. What are some of the disasters that have affected Texas over the past few years and how have you been involved?

In 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit us it was a challenge; 32,000 families lost their homes along with a large agricultural loss. Hurricane Ike, though only a category 2 hurricane, was about 450 miles wide. It pushed an 18 foot wall of water 20 miles inland, covering mostly ranchland that had about 35,000 head of cattle. We realized that within 72 hours the cattle would have saline toxicity, because all they had to drink was salt water. We deployed our strike teams to create Livestock Supply Points, LSP’s, and from September 13 to 30 we received and distributed over 125 semi-truck loads of feed and hay. By week 3, we started shipping about 15,000 head of cattle into other parts of the state.

In 2011 every geographic region of Texas had challenges with wildfires; there were over 32,000 in the state, and dozens were 50,000 acres or greater; over 3 million acres burnt. Our Livestock Supply Points and CEA strike teams were again activated to stand up 13 LSP’s. Our goal was not to put out fires, but to help landowners with displaced livestock. We received and distributed approximately 120 semi-truck loads of hay and feed. We were much better prepared, because we had about 50 County Extension Agents that were seasoned, trained, and mission ready.

4. What has been the most rewarding thing you have done in terms of disaster preparedness for your state?

The Hurricane Ike recovery, “Operation No Fences” on YouTube shows the land and livestock owners response, along with county agents and other volunteer organizations. The support we built for them was rewarding to our county extension agents because we had farmers and ranchers that had lost everything. To find that we had a mobilized team supporting them was unexpected, but extremely helpful. We estimate we saved the USDA indemnity program more than $10 million by shipping cattle out, since it saved their lives, and it costs about $600 a head to bury cattle. Also about 80% of the cattle shipped out had brands and/or ear tags; we had brand inspectors to help identify the rightful owners. Through these efforts we were able to maintain the strong fabric of the local agricultural economy in that area.

5. Have you worked on any multi-state projects through EDEN and what have those been?

I have had two major multi-state projects through EDEN. Both were funded by the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, at Texas A&M. The goal of the first was to strengthen crisis communications. We adopted the Association for Communication Excellence, ACE, group’s curriculum called “Media Relations Made Easy.” We incorporated an animal disease issue scenario into the training and partnered with multiple land grant universities to host a series of six workshops using that curriculum. We had about 180 Ag communicators from 29 states and Canada attend.

The second project was partnering with 22 state veterinarians and extension programs to test and establish an animal health network in those states. This program is still up and running. The mission of that project was to improve upon the state veterinarian’s capability to have early detection and rapid response to animal diseases, especially in smaller, hobby farms.

6. What do you think is the most important thing EDEN delegates can do to help the citizens in their states?

Learn from other state’s experiences. There’s a lot of different material and experiences that states can learn from each other. When we learn from each other we may reinvent something we learned from Washington State to fit our state, but the fact that we have guidance is extremely valuable.

If you haven’t yet registered for 2014 EDEN Annual Meeting, follow this link to register.

 

Seven Reasons to be Prepared for Disaster

Do you think a disaster won’t happen to you? Or, do you think it might, but there’s nothing you can do? This article is for you and anyone else needing a reason to be prepared for disaster!

step_1_money1. Save Money

Yes, you can save money by being prepared. If you understand your community’s greatest risks, you can take steps to make your home and property more resistant. For example, you may qualify for a reduced insurance rate if your home and property are resistant to damage from weather-related or other types of disasters. You may also have fewer damages to repair if disaster does strike. What risks do you face? Enter your ZIP code to find out on DisasterSafety.org. Check with your county or parish Emergency Management Agency for local specifics, and then take action to save money by being prepared.

step_2_fema_15082. Recover Faster

Thinking through what you’ll do and recording those steps in your family disaster plan (see reason # 7) make it easier for you to recover after a disaster hits. For example, does everyone in your household know what to do if a flash flood is about to affect your home and property?

3. Avoid or Reduce Damage

step_3_OuchitaCountyLook around your home and property. What can you do to reduce potential damage from a disaster? You can strengthen your house structure to protect against a shift from flood or wind forces, develop a firewise landscape, take steps to prevent home fires, and take other actions to make your home and property more secure.

4. Keep in Touch with Family

step_4_familyBe sure that each family member’s cell phone includes emergency and family phone numbers. Teach everyone to text message. During an emergency, it may be easier to contact others via text message than it is via a call. Also keep an up-to-date paper list of key phone numbers. If power is out and your cell phone is not charged, you will still be able to locate a needed phone number. It’s easier to contact relatives during a disaster if you’ve created a contact list before the disaster. They’ll want to know that you’re okay, so have a plan for notifying them. That plan may include contacting a designated out-of-state relative or friend who will let others know your status. You might also use the American Red Cross Safe and  Well website.

step_5_kit5. Survive on your Own

This is where emergency kits come in handy. No matter where you are, it may be a while before emergency responders can reach you. Here’s a starting list for your household supply kit.

6. Retain Important Papers

step_6_papersFinancial records, property records, legal records, and family records are important to you and your family. But are they filed and stored so you can easily find the important papers after a disaster—or when you’re evacuating? These papers will make it easier for you to recover. Here are some tips on organizing, managing, and accessing your papers.

7. Avoid Panic

Image of an example family disaster plan.Create a family disaster plan. Having a plan can help your family make it through any disaster with minimal stress. A comprehensive family disaster plan includes information about each family member, household pets, insurance and finances, and the home itself and its contents. Most important, the plan outlines what each family member should do during an emergency and identifies safe places inside and outside the home. Here’s a family disaster plan template from the University of Missouri Extension.