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Cherokee County offers disaster preparedness tips

CHEROKEE CO., July 7, 2013— Disaster preparedness involves being informed, making a plan, building a disaster kit and getting involved.  In a disaster, help may not be available for up to 72 hours.  Knowing what to do can make all the difference when seconds count.

It is important to know what types of disasters may affect the area you live in, but also in areas where you may travel.  Know how you will receive information during a disaster.  Cherokee County and the City of Jacksonville both offer Code Red which is a notification system used to inform citizens of disaster information.  In Jacksonville, sign up for Code Red at www.jacksonville-texas.com  and in Cherokee County at www.co.cherokee.tx.us. 

Every family should have a disaster plan in place.  The plan should include local and out of area emergency contacts.  These are people to call to help reunite your family if you become separated. Also, plan meeting places, both near your home and out of the area in case you are separated.  Have an evacuation plan so that if authorities call for an evacuation, your family can quickly and safely leave. 

It is important to involve all family members in the planning process.  Consider special needs of family members when building your plan. Once the plan is complete, practice it several times a year.  The more your plan is practiced, the easier it becomes to remember. Don’t forget, when panic sets in, we can become easily overwhelmed, which can lead to poor decisions.

Your disaster kit should include a three day supply of food and water for each member of your family.  Foods should need no refrigeration or cooking.  Plan to store one gallon of water per day for each person in your family. 

Your disaster kit should also have a first aid kit and extra medications used by your family.  Also include flashlights, portable radios, extra batteries, a whistle, cash, extra clothing, toiletry and hygiene items, and mental health items such as photos, games, puzzles, books and crayons. 

Any other special needs items required by family members should also be added.  Families with pets should also include a three day supply of pet food, extra water, vaccination records and leashes or crates.

Once your family is prepared, consider helping your community become better prepared for disasters.  There are many ways to help.  Discuss disaster preparedness with your neighbors or help the elderly with their plans and building their kits.  Work with your church to develop a disaster response plan.  Volunteer with response organizations.

This year, CCPHD was excited to apply for and then to receive grant funding for a project we called Disaster Preparedness in Vulnerable Populations. This allowed us to work with local community partners to identify vulnerable populations, including those that are elderly, physically or mentally challenged, and those that have young families, to provide them with a disaster kit and training to use during a disaster. CCPHD will have distributed approximately 1400 kits across the county, working with many agencies to complete the project.

 For more information please contact Cherokee County Public Health at 903-586-6191.

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