September is National Preparedness Month, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages everyone to act now and make their families' preparedness for disasters a priority.
"National Preparedness Month serves as a reminder that we all need to prepare for disasters and emergencies," said Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III. "Make disaster readiness manageable by taking one step at a time - start by learning your specific risk, gathering supplies for an emergency kit, and developing a family communications plan. By taking these small, but critical, steps over time, you can be prepared for disasters."
Locally, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is preparing for disasters.
"We can count on influenza and possible power outages due to severe weather this winter," said Kelly Rumpf, Health Educator for the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department. "In addition, there is potential for foodborne outbreaks, a hazardous materials accident, another pandemic influenza outbreak, or a wild fire during the year."
While the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department is working to protect the community in the event of an emergency, health officials are urging everyone to take responsibility for the safety of their family and be prepared for all emergencies.
"In an emergency, your safety and the safety of your family may depend on decisions made in a few seconds," said Beth Tappy, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Health Department.
"Be prepared. Have a plan and supplies, remain calm, stay informed, and be ready to activate your disaster plans," Tappy said.
The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department lists some things that families can do to prepare for a potential disaster:
- Be proactive, not reactive. Create a family emergency plan and talk about it ahead of time. Taking action before an emergency occurs helps people deal with disasters of all sorts much more effectively when they do occur.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Your family emergency plan must include your pets. Being prepared can save their lives.
- If a winter storm, power outage, or other disaster strikes the community, you might not have access to food, water, and electricity for several days. You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. Have your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days in the event of a weather-related disaster or at least two weeks in the event of a severe influenza outbreak or prolonged emergency.
- Keep a battery operated NOAA weather radio as well as a regular radio nearby with extra batteries to stay informed.
- Help vulnerable family members and/or neighbors prepare, if you are able.
Additionally, the Michigan Department of Community Health, Office of Public Health Preparedness has teamed up with local public health departments, regional healthcare coalitions, and Michigan chefs to host a preparedness kit recipe challenge throughout September to highlight National Preparedness Month.
"Preparedness month is a time for families to take stock and plan at home for ways to protect themselves during emergencies," said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health.
"An important part of planning is having an extra supply of shelf stable foods on hand and knowing how to use them to prepare healthy meals when the power goes out for several days," Dr. Davis said "This challenge is a fun way for Michiganders to learn more about preparedness and to share creative recipes with each other."
Residents are invited to submit a recipe for their favorite no-cook or grill-style dish using only shelf-stable ingredients online at the newly revamped Michigan Prepares website, www.michigan.gov/prepares.
Shelf-stable items include foods that can safely sit on a pantry shelf for at least one year and do not require cooking or refrigeration.
There are two categories of recipe submissions, no-cook and grill style. Grill style allows for dishes to be warmed in a pan on an outdoor grill or camp stove, so long as only shelf-stable ingredients are used.
Outdoor grills and camp stoves give off carbon monoxide, which is colorless and odorless, and can be deadly.
This category of the challenge helps residents create recipes that encourage the use these types of equipment in a safe manner, outside and away from windows and vents that lead into the home.
Recipes for the challenge will be accepted on the Michigan Prepares website until Sept. 30.
The top three winning recipes for each category will be selected and announced in October.
Winners will receive a gift card to help stock their own preparedness kit supplies. Winning recipes will be highlighted on the Michigan Prepares website and in social media, and in a preparedness e-cookbook of submitted recipes and preparedness planning tips that will be released later this year.