September is National Preparedness Month, pushing local safety agencies to emphasize the importance of knowing what to do in emergency situations.
In order to educated the public, the Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management plans to share safety tips on its Facebook page. Kalamazoo County Office of Emergency Management Director Mike Corfman said the office is prepared to respond to a variety of local emergencies, including severe weather, chemical spills, violent attacks and major power outages.
“We could have another crash on the freeway with hazardous materials released that we have to respond to. It’s a matter of when you hear the public officials put out the watches, the warnings, the alerts you need to listen to that... because we have these plans in place already,” he said.
Corfman said emergency situations can strike at a moment’s notice, making preparation vital.
According to Corfman, West Michigan is particularly vulnerable to harsh weather, lake-effect weather conditions, and power outages. He said in the event of a major power outage, families should have enough resources to get them through at least the first couple of days.
Corfman said his own emergency kit would include a battery-operated radio, flashlights, food, water and extra cellphone batteries. He said it’s also important to keep tabs on changing weather conditions through local media or weather apps.
“I guess the first page of preparedness is really personal preparedness,” he said. “If a disaster happens, whether it’s a snow storm or a tornado comes through, it’s going to take some time for emergency responders to really get into a lot of those effected areas, especially if we have road closures due to trees down or blizzard conditions.”
He advised drivers to always keep emergency kits in their vehicles in case they become stranded and said those kits should include blankets, snow boots, thick socks, a folding shovel and jumper cables.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety started a social media campaign for emergency preparedness, using the hashtag #PreparedNotScared. The department said it would post weekly preparedness tips throughout the month of September.
Each week of September represents a theme for National Preparedness Month. The theme for the first week of September is "Save Early for Disaster Costs."
Corfman said even small emergencies can financially catch people off guard. He highly recommends having homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, and keeping emergency cash on hand.