TOPEKA – To highlight the need for emergency preparedness in the home, workplace, schools and community, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a proclamation Thursday, designating September as “Kansas Preparedness Month.” The signing took place in the governor’s ceremonial office in the Kansas Capitol.
“I’m urging every Kansan to take a few simple steps this month to ensure they are prepared for any emergency that may arise,” said Brownback. “Take a little time to assemble a basic home emergency kit. You don’t have to do it all at once; add just a couple of items every month or so. Then make an emergency plan and practice it with your family. The steps you take now can make a big difference if you’re faced with a major emergency.”
“We in Kansas think of being prepared as just being ready for tornadoes,” said Amy Miller, Barton County emergency management director. But, it should be a every-day thing.”
Winter is just around the corner, making a good time to take stock, Miller said. In addition to emergency kits, making sure immunizations are current, making a list of medications, taking an inventory of personal belongings and updating insurance policies are good ideas.
Joining the governor at the ceremony were Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management; Col. Ernest Garcia, superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol; and Robert Moser, M.D., secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
“An emergency kit is basically a back-up supply of the things we need every day, such as food, water and daily medications,” said Tafanelli “You also need a good weather-alert radio, flashlights and extra batteries, blankets, a first-aid kit and other supplies, enough to be self-sufficient on your own for a minimum of three days. Put them in your home’s designated shelter area so they will be readily accessible in case of an emergency.”
Information on building a home emergency kit can be found on line atksready.gov, redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family and at http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit.
“I hope that families, individuals and businesses will take advantage of this reminder by conducting inventory of their emergency kits and revisiting their response plans,” said Moser. “The storms we had this past winter are perfect examples of why preparedness is essential to our safety and wellbeing. This is also the time of year to prepare for the upcoming influenza season by getting your annual flu vaccine. The vaccine is the best way to avoid getting the flu.”
“As a first responder agency, the Kansas Highway Patrol fully understands the need to be prepared for an ever changing environment,” said Garcia. “Through joint cooperation with our state and county partners, we work hard to ensure those traveling Kansas’ roadways are safe at all times.”
The proclamation signing was also an opportunity for Fred the Preparedness Dog to meet with the Governor and state officials to help promote emergency preparedness in Kansas. Fred, a two-year-old German Sheppard, is the live mascot for an educational campaign by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Preparedness Program. KDHE and Fred work together to increase family and pet preparedness for all types of emergencies. The campaign is a mixture of personal appearances by Fred at various community events, occasional television and radio interviews, visits to schools and health preparedness education materials (with Fred’s cartoon caricature) in the form of activity books and a series of trading cards. Fred also has his own Facebook and Twitter accounts, which are maintained by his owner, Michael McNulty, KDHE’s emergency operations director. Fred’s activities are a portion of the work conducted under a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Hospital Preparedness Program and Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program.
During Preparedness Month, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management is reminding the public to take part in its monthly online “Preparedness Challenge” on the KSReady.gov site ksready.gov/default.asp?PageID=36&Tab=3.
“Sometimes people don’t do what it takes to be prepared because it seems so overwhelming,” said Tafanelli. “Taking the Preparedness Challenge is a great way to break home emergency preparedness down into easily manageable steps that get the whole family involved.”
Completing each month’s preparedness challenge makes participants better prepared for emergencies and eligible to be entered in the drawing for that month’s prize. In September, KDEM will also be running a special preparedness campaign through its social media sites and will host several preparedness webinars.
Sept. 9 is Kansas Preparedness Day at the State Fair in Hutchinson, where numerous state and local agencies, along with community emergency response organizations, will be providing disaster preparedness and public safety information, as well as displaying emergency response equipment. There will also be drawings for door prizes.