Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are You Prepared? - Part 1

Pin It With all of the recent destruction caused by the various earthquakes and other severe weather across the globe, emergency preparedness is at the forefront of most everyone' s mind - my family included.  So it's a good time to review your Emergency Readiness Plan (ERP).  Today's post is the first of a series to provide information and resources that I have come across as I review my family's ERP.

The first step in taking the proper steps in an emergency, is to know that an emergent situation is occurring.  I know you are probably saying, "Duh!", but how many times have you heard a news report of some campers or hikers or boaters losing their life because they had no idea the weather had taken a turn for the worse? 

Step 1:  First things first - make sure you have working fire and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. The time just changed last weekend and if you didn't check those batteries when you were turning your clocks ahead - shame on you.  Go do it - right now.  Here is a link with instructions to test your smoke alarms.  Your smoke detector is likely to be the first thing to alert you that an emergent situation (fire) is developing.  Make sure it is functioning properly.

Step 2: Make sure your weather radio is functioning properly.  What?  You don't own a weather radio?  You don't even know what a weather radio is?  Let me enlighten you.

Weather Radio

Weather Radios offer two significant functions. First, they are designed to receive the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) service's broadcast of weather status and forecasts, providing regular, around-the-clock weather information. Second, they are designed to respond to the FCC's Emergency Alert System (EAS), which has replaced the older Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), and the alert signals sent by the NOAA Weather Radio service. When the weather radio receives an alert signal, it will respond with an audible alarm to attract attention. Many weather radios also provide a display that indicates what type of alert is being sent. This allows the user to be alerted to any dangerous situation as soon as possible.

Here is a good example of a weather radio.  I like this model in particular because of its extra features that would be helpful in case of loss of electricity - crank battery, built-in flashlight, built-in USB cellphone charger, etc.  I also like the portable version of this radio (below) to keep in the car just in case.

If you have a family member who is deaf or hard of hearing, check out the National Weather Radio's website (here) for more information on simple systems that can be used for these special needs.

By the way, NOAA also has a pretty cool all hazards monitor available at  They have an experimental email notification system underway that you can sign up for if you are so inclined.

Step 3:  Check with the Department of Emergency Management for your local municipality. Many municipalities have a website with many listed resources and links. In checking with the Jefferson County EMD, I learned that they have a mass notification service and all you have to do is sign up for alerts.  Does your local municipality (city, township, county or state) have a notification service you can sign up for?  How about your neighborhood block watch or homeowners association?

Note-Worthy Notification Services

NIXLE - Mass Communication Service 
Nixle a mass communication service providing a free commercial grade text-based notification platform to almost 5,000 agencies across all 50 states.  Check out their website to see if your municipality uses NIXLE services.

After creating an account at, register your cellphone to received alert messages by texting your ZIPCODE to 888777.  Multiple zipcodes can be entered if for example you have multiple homes or areas of interest.

The Emergency Email & Wireless Network
Similar service as NIXLE above.  They claim to be the 3rd largest breaking news provider.  It appears that municipalities in all states use their service.  Again, you sign-up to receive email or text messages to your cellphone.

USGS Earthquake Notification Service (ENS)
An earthquake notification service provided by the US Geological Survey.  Subscribe for email notifications for earthquake alerts.  You can customize the alerts you want to receive (by location around the world, magnitude, time of day, etc).

Tomorrow, I'll be reviewing what's in our Disaster Supplies Kits for the home, car and office.

Be safe and God bless,

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