Prepare for an Emergency in 6 Steps

By on February 4, 2014
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The widespread impact felt from this week’s snowfall and icy weather has been compared to the infamous Blizzard of ‘93, and even the apocalypse as seen on The Walking Dead. Thousands of Alabamians were forced to abandon their cars on local roadways and seek shelter, while just as many children were stranded with no way to get home and forced to spend the night at their school. Even meteorologists were apologizing about erroneous weather predictions.

Despite it all, the bottom line remains the same, if an emergency strikes, are you prepared to handle it? The best way to prepare is to start by compiling a portable disaster supplies kit. Below is a list of recommended items that may come in handy if you’re stuck at home, in the car, or need to evacuate immediately, be sure to save it, print it, and pass it along to family and friends.

1. Gather supplies to put into an emergency/disaster survival kit:

  • Water and non-perishable foods (canned meats/fruits/vegetables, peanut butter, trail mix, powdered milk, special dietary foods, baby food/formula, sugar, salt and pepper, nuts, energy drinks)
  • Can opener
  • Multivitamins and medications
  • First aid kit including dust masks, pain medication, antibiotic cream
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cell phone and hard copy of emergency contacts (listed below)
  • Solar charger
  • Whistle, signal mirror, or firestarter for signalling for help
  • Matches
  • Radio
  • Hand warmers, blankets, ponchos or umbrellas, gloves,
  • Sunscreen and protective sunglasses if needed
  • Fixed-blade knife or multi-tool
  • Compass and maps

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Print out this list of emergency contacts to keep in your emergency/disaster kit:

  • 911- will connect you with local emergency services
  • Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, (205) 254-2039, to find other AL county EMA contact info. visit http://ema.alabama.gov/county.cfm
  • ADEM – Central Office, (334) 271-7700
  • ADEM Office of Emergency Response (General Information Only), (334) 260-2717
  • Birmingham Regional EMS System, (205) 934-2595 or bremms@uab.edu
  • UAB Hospital, (205) 934-4011
  • St. Vincent’s Health System, (205) 939-7000
  • Brookwood Medical Center, (205) 877-1000
  • Trinity Medical Center, (205) 592-1000
  • Children’s Hospital, (205) 638-9100
  • Regional Paramedics, (205) 956-1172
  • National Response Center, (202) 267-2675
  • Emergency and Specialty Animal Medical Center, (205) 967-7389
  • VCA Becker Animal Hospital, (205) 871-2371

3. Stay in the know via websites, Facebook pages and Twitter updates with these local resources for timely disaster-related updates:

  • Fox 6 News, Weather and Traffic
  • ABC 33/40 News, Weather and Traffic
  • AL.com News and Weather
  • ALDOT Road Conditions
  • Alabama Emergency Management Agency
  • Follow your local weatherman

4. Prepare before the disaster strikes:

  • To receive weather alerts, sign up for emails and/or texts from Alabama Saf-T-Net
  • Download the Red Cross iPhone app to find open shelters during a disaster
  • Download the Alabama All-Hazard Awareness Booklet

5. Seek post-disaster relief:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides services for disaster assistance, crisis counseling, disaster legal services, disaster unemployment, and/or flood losses. Call (800) 621-FEMA (3362) for assistance.
  • Register yourself as as “Safe and well” or find a missing loved one by visiting American Red Cross’s Safe and Well website
  • Reach out to your local church or faith-based organizations devoted to helping disaster victims, such as the Birmingham Baptist Association, United Church of Christ, Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama, and ServeAlabama
  • Search for hashtags #ALNeeds and #WeAreAlabama on Twitter. James Spann started these hashtags to help Alabamians connect in a state of emergency.
  • Ask family and friends for help

6. Help by offering disaster relief to others:

  • Donate blood at Red Cross, LifeSouth Community Blood Center, Blood Assurance, or PlasmaCare Inc.
  • Volunteer by finding disaster relief opportunities at http://www.volunteermatch.org/ and http://www.handsonbirmingham.org/disaster_relief
  • Donate to the Salvation Army, Birmingham Baptist Association’s Disaster Relief Ministry, Jimmie Hale Mission, and other disaster-relief organizations
  • Reach out to Alabamians on Twitter by using the hashtag #ALHaves
  • Simply ask your neighbors and friends how you can help.

As Governor Robert Bentley stated, “Help your neighbor out. That’s what we do here in Alabama.”

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