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South Florida emergency management agencies collaborate to spread regional disaster preparedness message
 

A major disaster threatens South Florida, forcing you to utilize important emergency supplies, safeguard your home and business, determine how to best care for your loved one with special needs and pet, and evacuate to a safe area.

Local government officials want to know – are you ready?

Emergency managers from Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties are working together to promote a regional disaster preparedness message – get a kit, make a plan, and be informed. Equipped with a new website and social media page, brochures and public service announcements, they want the region’s more than six million residents to know what to do if a hurricane, terrorist attack, wildfire, flood, pandemic or other disaster strikes South Florida.

The new Ready South Florida initiative is modeled after the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Ready.gov campaign. The local initiative’s centerpiece is www.ReadySouthFlorida.org, a website that provides South Floridians with tips on how to develop an emergency plan for the home and business, create an emergency kit and be informed during a disaster.

www.ReadySouthFlorida.org has downloadable emergency preparedness brochures, links to each local county’s emergency management website and the Ready South Florida social media site on Facebook. The website and brochures are available in English, Spanish and Creole.

FEMA and the Ad Council, which developed national public service announcements for the Ready.gov campaign, will be partnering with the South Florida emergency managers to air these announcements as part of Ready South Florida. The local initiative coincides with September’s National Preparedness Month and the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Several other major metropolitan areas around the United States have launched similar campaigns, including New York, Houston and Los Angeles.

Local officials hope Ready South Florida spurs residents to make emergency preparations well in advance of a disaster and increases local awareness about all hazards that threaten South Florida, not just hurricanes.

Officials want to make sure residents know where to go and how to contact relatives or friends if they need to evacuate, regardless of what county they live, work or attend school.

Self sufficiency, or a person’s ability to sustain themselves for the first 72 hours following a disaster, is another of Ready South Florida’s key messages. A disaster may hinder the ability for government officials to immediately communicate with people and set up relief sites, which was the case in south Miami-Dade County following Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Bill Johnson, RN, the Emergency Management Director for Palm Beach County, said “creating a three-day emergency kit for your household doesn’t have to be expensive and could include items that most residents already have on hand, such as a manual can opener, non-perishable foods, empty water jugs that can be filled quickly at home with tap water, and first aid supplies.” He said “keeping up with prescription refills and having adequate supplies over-the-counter medications on hand are also important.”

“A kit has to be usable for all disasters and you should have the kit available at all times,” Johnson said. “After Hurricane Andrew, it took days for any relief sites to be opened, as it took time to remove debris from the roadways in order to allow relief crews in. Self sufficiency for the first three days is paramount.”

Don’t wait for a disaster to strike to try to create an emergency kit, develop a plan or learn where to turn to be informed. Visit www.ReadySouthFlorida.org today for more information and be ready.

Posted:6/16/2011
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