‘Resolve to be Ready’ program kicks off 2010

Published 5:10 pm Friday, January 1, 2010

While individuals are making resolutions for themselves, here’s a resolution for the whole family.

Suffolk families are urged to “Resolve to be Ready in 2010” by putting emergency preparedness at the top of their resolution lists.

“There is something we always say we’ll do to make lives better,” said Captain James Judkins of Suffolk’s Emergency Management. “What better way can we make our lives better than by creating a family disaster plan to help insure the safety of our families?”

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Making a family plan is critical in emergency preparedness. And Suffolk’s two recent destructive nor’easters provided proof that such preparedness is not just necessary during hurricane season.

“One big danger is thinking because it hasn’t happened to you, you’re probably not in harm’s way,” Judkins said. “In 1999, a 50-year flood impacted Franklin, and then seven years later it happened again. You always have to be prepared for the unexpected.”

To start a family emergency plan, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management recommends the following:

4Choose an out-of-town friend or relative as an emergency point of contact in the event you are separated.

4If you have cell phones, teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around cell network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

4Decide on a meeting place in case you cannot return home. Choose a neighborhood meeting place and another meeting place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return there.

4If you are a parent, ask your schools and daycare providers about their emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during a crisis.

4Talk with your family about the types of emergencies that could happen to you. Include weather emergencies, health crises and human-caused situations.

4Write down your family emergency plan. Get printable worksheets to make a plan at www.ReadyVirginia.gov. This Web site also provides information about collecting emergency supplies and responding to all types of emergencies.

Another recommendation Judkins said is crucial to family preparedness is staying informed.

“Don’t take the information available to you for granted,” he said. “Read your local papers, keep an eye out for weather warnings from the national weather service, listen for radio and television alerts. When you’re informed, that’s when you make the best decisions for your family.”

These tips aren’t only for families, though. Judkins urged businesses to adopt them, as well.

It is important the entire community ensure they are prepared to take care of those children or employees who depend on them.

“Individuals need to take care of their own welfare,” he said. “There is a chain of command that moves from an individual to local to state to federal, so you need to be able to be self-sustained for 72 hours after a disaster hits, because getting that help can take time.”

Considering Virginia’s unpredictable weather, “we need to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best,” Judkins said.