By Kathleen Silva, Marion County Emergency Manager
Disasters happen. It's not a matter of if, but when. From the potential Cascadia Earthquake, to snow and ice, floods or droughts – there are many types of disasters we can encounter at almost any time. Personal and business preparedness is essential – help can be hours or even days away.
In Marion County we've seen significant snow and ice, flooding, and even an EF2 tornado in Aumsville. Unfortunately, in today's world we also have to be prepared for man-made threats.
September is National Preparedness Month. It's an annual reminder to make sure our homes and businesses are ready if disaster strikes. The American Red Cross offers the Ready Rating (readyrating.org) program that helps businesses take simple steps to prepare for emergencies.
Membership in the Ready Rating program is free and helps businesses assess hazards their company might be vulnerable to, connect with community resources, and create an emergency action plan.
Part of your emergency action plan will be to create a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Your COOP will help you plan how to continue business operations following an emergency. You'll consider everything from determining your critical business functions, to creating evacuation plans, designating essential staff, identifying outside resources, storing important records, and planning for technology and communications needs.
At Marion County, departments are currently updating COOP plans. We want to ensure that our offices can continue to operate and maintain the programs and services our communities rely on. We recommend that all organizations review and update their COOP plans annually.
Making sure employees are prepared at home is also important. If your COOP plan relies on a certain number of staff to operate, employees will need to know that their own homes and families are safe before they will report to work.
Families are encouraged to have enough emergency supplies for a minimum of two weeks. In fact, we emergency preparedness professionals recommend having three emergency kits – a personal 72-hour go bag, a 7-day work kit, and a home kit with the suggested two weeks of supplies for each household member. Recommended kit items include water, food, medicine, first aid supplies, flashlight, radio, clothing, and more as needed.
Emergency preparedness doesn't have to be complicated, but it does require some thought and planning on your part. Be aware of potential risks, make a plan, build a kit, and stay informed. Remember, we're all in this together and there are many resources available to help you prepare.