National Preparedness Month and the COVID-19 pandemic
Sept. 10, 2020
If this summer has shown us anything, it’s that the COVID-19
pandemic didn’t stop other disasters from happening. From the east coast’s
Hurricane Laura to Iowa’s devastating derecho to the wildfires consuming the
western states, it may seem like emergencies are piling up one by one.
What the virus has changed, however, is how we respond to
these disasters. That’s why National
Preparedness Month is different this year. We know that disasters
such as flash floods can not only knock out power, block roads and disrupt
emergency services, but also cause stores and pharmacies to close. COVID-19
adds to this complexity, so when you’re preparing for emergencies, it’s
important to keep that in mind.
For example, when you’re assembling your emergency kit,
include a one-month supply of prescription medication. Add in fresh masks, hand
sanitizer and disinfectants. Don’t forget food, water and paper products. And
if you’re wondering what else to add to your emergency kit, just remember back
to the beginning of the pandemic. Toilet paper was scarce. The food supply
chain was disrupted for a time. Some medicines and first aid supplies were hard
to find. If we experience a disaster on top of the pandemic, those problems
could surface again – and they could get much worse. It’s a good reason to make
your kit as soon as possible.
When you’re creating your preparedness plan and putting your
kit together, don’t forget to take pets into account. Make sure you pack enough
food, medications and supplies for your furry family members as well. Resources
could be in short supply wherever you take shelter due to COVID-19.
It may help to ask yourself a few questions as you create
your emergency plan, and discuss them with the other members of your household.
will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
is my shelter plan?
is my evacuation route?
is my family/household
with the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) and update my emergency plans
due to COVID-19.
Once you’ve made
your emergency plan, practice it. Try testing your communications
plan and meeting at your agreed-upon shelter if you get separated. National
Preparedness Month only comes once a year, but this year has taught us that we
need good preparation more than ever. After all, a disaster won’t politely wait
until the pandemic is over before it strikes, and we can’t control when that
happens. But when it does, we can be prepared.