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Are you prepared for the unthinkable?
by Article courtesy of the Marion Fire Department and City of Marion · September 14th, 2017

Most people are quick to say, "It will never happen to me." Unfortunately, many of the victims of Hurricane Harvey or the Eastern Iowa floods thought it would never happen to them until they were the victims.

While we do not have to worry about hurricanes in Iowa, we do have the potential for flooding, tornados/severe weather, severe winter storms, nuclear emergency, earthquakes, severe heat situations, long-term power outages, terrorism and civil unrest.

September is National Preparedness Month and the Marion Fire Department would like to offer some suggestions on how you and your family can prepare for a significant event such as those mentioned above. Most of the information presented here comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

One of the most important things to do is to stay informed. Many of these situations provide hours to days of notice. Stay informed through local media to find out if you may need to take action. Listen to what emergency personnel are directing you to do. The action they are taking is for your safety! Evacuation orders are not issued lightly. If you are directed to evacuate, do so promptly. Unfortunately, many rescues have to occur because people refused to evacuate only to find themselves in grave danger later.

Another priority is to make a plan. Here are some things to consider:

How will I receive emergency alerts/warnings? If you have power, then local media is a great medium. Cell phones and other mobile devices are great, but if the power is out, the batteries only last so long. Having several of the battery packs with the USB port connections are beneficial. Having a small portable radio that operates off of batteries is a great way to stay informed even if you have no power.

What is my shelter plan? That depends on the type of emergency. If it is flooding and it is only affecting a small part of the community, you may have to find your own lodging with family or friends. If the emergency involves a large area, then evacuation sites will likely be set up. The key here is to be informed and to have a plan in place before you actually have to evacuate.

What is my evacuation plan and route? This will depend on the emergency. You need to think of several places where you can stay in the area - ideally with friends or family. Many people think they will check into a hotel, but unfortunately, hotels fill up quickly in these situations.

If it is a large event, specific neighborhoods might be directed to specific sites for lodging and the route you are asked to take may be designated. Please use the designated routes as they are designed to move the most people efficiently out of the danger area, and that area may include more than just your neighborhood. Have a family re-unification plan in case you were to be separated. Have a place where you will all meet up when you can.

If you have enough warning, make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. Everyone will need gas and gas stations may be closed due to the emergency, or if there is no power, the gas pumps will not work.

Have a plan on where pets are going to go. Most public shelters will not allow pets because of safety concerns. Make sure you take medications with you. Many people try to take their belongings with them, which is understandable, but in a disaster, there is simply no place to put all of these belongings.

What is my family/household communication plan? Make sure, if you have to evacuate, that family or friends know where you are heading. Make sure that you have contact information for where you are planning to stay.

More information can be found at Having a plan in place can make all the difference during an emergency. Please take some time to make a plan for an event that will hopefully never happen!
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