September is National Preparedness Month. All this month, the Office of Public Health Preparedness will be spotlighting simple steps and tips to help you and your loved ones prepare in the event of an emergency. The new “Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy.” campaign encourages the whole community to work together to be more prepared. You can start doing your part to build a more resilient Boston by sharing this important information on Facebook and Twitter and taking the Pledge to Prepare.
This week, we are focusing on the Get Ready part of the campaign by highlighting ways to prepare and plan for an emergency that may prevent you from accessing critical services, such as electricity and water, for several days. The four steps to Get Ready are: Be Informed, Make a Plan, Build a Kit, and Get Involved. Below is more information on the third and fourth steps, Build a Kit and Get Involved. To learn more and review the first two steps, Be Informed and Make a Plan, visit our previous blog post.
Build A Kit
An important step in getting ready for an emergency is to build two types of emergency supply kits for the places where you spend a lot of time, for example your home, your work, or your car. Preparing these kits ahead of time helps to reduce the stress of emergencies and provides the items you need to be ready wherever you are.
The first is a Go Kit. This is a kit to have ready when you need to leave your house quickly during an emergency. Your Go Kit should include a few items that you would need for the first 24-48 hours if you are traveling or staying in a shelter. To decide what to put in this kit, think about these questions: If you had to leave your home in a hurry, what are the most important things to bring with you? Do you have these items on a list? Are they gathered together to grab and go?
Think about the things you use from the time you wake up until you go to sleep. Common items you should consider including are a change of clothing, bottled water, some snacks, identification, a small first aid kit, and cash. Remember to think about the people you live with, and the people who count on you, and pack the things that they need too. The second type of emergency supply kit is a Shelter-in-Place Kit. This kit is used when you may have to spend time in your home due to an emergency. What if you couldn’t leave your home for one day, three days, or a full week? Would you have all the supplies you need? What if there was no electricity or running water?
If you need support services in your daily life, even a minor emergency can present real challenges. Also think about these questions when building your kits:
- Do you have what you need to make it on your own without access to a medical facility or drugstore? What about home visits from a loved one, home health, or personal care provider?
- Do you depend on special equipment? For example, if you have a wheelchair, have you checked your backup power supply?
- Do you have a service animal? If so, do you have an emergency supply kit for the animal?
- What other resources do you use every day? What would you do if they were unavailable?
The Get Ready. Be Safe. Stay Healthy. web site provides a list of suggested items and practical tips for building your kits.
Once you’ve taken the steps to Be Informed, Make a Plan, and Build a Kit, help others do the same by starting a conversation with your neighbors and other loved ones about preparedness. Why should they Get Ready? Talk about this together and help them complete the four steps to Get Ready.
If you would like to volunteer to help your community, join the Boston Medical Reserve Corps (Boston MRC.) The Boston MRC is a community-based volunteer program that prepares for and may respond to emergencies to support the public health infrastructure of the City of Boston. You do not need to have a medical background to volunteer with the Boston MRC. All Boston MRC members have a skill to offer and can play an important role in helping staff city-wide special events, preparedness drills, and seasonal flu clinics.
- Interpreters and individuals who can speak multiple language
- People who have experience working with vulnerable populations such as people with any type of disabilities, children, the elderly, and other’s who may need assistance in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies
- Physicians, nurses, EMTs, and other healthcare professionals
- Anyone with a desire to help during a public health emergency
The Boston MRC needs your help to better serve our communities and supplement existing public health resources! To join the Boston MRC and register for an upcoming new member orientation, please visit the Boston MRC web site.