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Threat Preparedness

Are you prepared? It's National Preparedness Month!

Are you prepared? It's National Preparedness Month!

Sep. 6, 2023

By Mary Wade Burnside

Each year, when September’s National Preparedness Month approaches, it seems like there is never a shortage of current disasters to point to in order to make a case for taking stock of how you might fare if the unexpected happens.
Unfortunately, just in the United States, the entire summer of 2023 has provided a devastating canvas onto which Monongalia County Health Department can paint a vivid portrait on the importance of being ready for whatever might come our way.
While the summer here has been mostly pleasant, we did experience the remnants of another country’s disaster: The Canadian wildfires, which brought several days of haze alerts.
Also headlining the news recently have been the deadly Maui wildfires, a category 4 hurricane that became the first tropical storm to directly impact California in 84 years; and Hurricane Ian that devastated parts of Florida.
And those were just in the past month.
An ongoing story has been the heatwave experienced in the south and southwest this summer, with Phoenix experiencing a record 31 consecutive days of in excess of 110 Fahrenheit temperatures.
And while West Virginians are no strangers to flooding, the footage of washed out roads and gushing water in nearby Pennsylvania last month hit very close to home.
It’s not that difficult anymore to make a case to be prepared, because the question has evolved from “if” something happens to “when.”
While Monongalia County Health Department and its Threat Preparedness program are here to help, it’s important to realize that all households should have a plan in place and supplies on hand for the unexpected., FEMA’s preparedness site, encourages you to make a kit to be ready for those types of incidents and more. You can refer to the website to see a list of practical items to gather.
Other suggestions include:
• Learn how to receive emergency alerts.
• Make plans for both sheltering in place and also evacuation.
• Create a communication plan with your family in case disaster strikes when you are at different locations.
There are also financial preparations you can make to better help in the event of an emergency.
• Keep financial, critical household and medical information handy, including printed copies.
• Purchase homeowners or renters insurance, as well as health and life insurance if you don’t have them.
• Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATMs and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food. Remember, homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover flooding, so if you believe this is a risk to your property, look into flood insurance.
Additionally, so many people are pet owners and you don’t want to forget about your furry (or scaly) family members. Microchipping dogs and cats will aid in them being reunited with you more easily.
You also might want to make a plan with your neighbors, including those with pets who can serve as an evacuation backup in case you are gone, and vice versa. But getting to know your neighbors is also a good idea in general, because you can help each other out and check on the elderly and others who might need assistance when an incident occurs, even a power outage.
MCHD Threat Preparedness also provides a variety of training that you can schedule now, including Stop the Bleed, a national program that can be used if someone is injured in a car accident, a shooting or in some other way. To schedule a training, email
Disasters aren’t fun to think about but being prepared makes them easier to handle when something happens.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.





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