|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - August 20, 2008
Contact: Laura Southard - Virginia Department of Emergency Management
RICHMOND, VA - Half of Virginians recently surveyed by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management have emergency supply kits in their homes. More citizens can join that number during September, which is National Preparedness Month.
"All Virginians are encouraged to follow the lead and get prepared for disasters and emergencies during September," said Michael Cline, VDEM state coordinator. "What we do ahead of time really matters. When families take steps before emergencies happen, then they have a better chance of avoiding injury and recovering quickly."
The survey also showed that half of Virginians have identified an out-of-town friend or relative for their family members to contact in case they are separated during an emergency. "Set aside time during September to create a family emergency plan. That one step could save a lot of heartache," said Cline.
The informal survey was conducted by VDEM to help evaluate citizen awareness and readiness for natural and human-caused emergencies and disasters. A total of 430 adults throughout the state participated. Although not a formal poll, survey results mirror previous research conducted by the agency.
"September is a great time for even more people to get ready because it is the height of hurricane and flash flood season in the Commonwealth," said Cline.
During National Preparedness Month, Cline encourages citizens to take three simple, low-cost steps to protect their families:
• Get a kit. An emergency supply kit contains essential items to support a family for at least three days. A kit should include non-perishable food along with a manual can opener and about one gallon of water per person per day. Having extra cash or traveler's checks on hand is useful if power outages affect banking institutions. A whistle that can be used to signal for help and dust masks that can filter air could be included, along with a battery powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
• Make a plan. A family communications plan includes discussions about what to do and who to contact if family members are separated when an emergency strikes. For example, it is often easier to call long distance during an emergency due to overloaded local phone lines. Each family member should know where to meet and who to call in case of emergency.
• Stay informed. It is vital that people stay informed before, during and after an emergency. Listen to local media and use resources such as http://www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
VDEM is joining with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to promote National Preparedness Month as a time for families, businesses and communities to take action on emergency preparedness. More than 1,200 national, regional, state and local businesses and organizations are part of the fifth annual effort.
To learn more about getting ready for emergencies, visit http://www.ReadyVirginia.gov or http://www.ListoVirginia.gov . Free materials also are available by calling toll-free (866) 782-3470. TTY/TDD users may call 711.