In the case of an emergency are you prepared?  Do you have a plan?  Do you have safe shelter?  These are just some of the things Leadership Texas 2019 discussed during their recent visit with Texas Task Force 1 in Bryan/College Station.

Texas Task Force 1 functions as one of the 28 federal teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) System and as a statewide urban search and rescue team under direction of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM). TX-TF1 also coordinates the state’s swiftwater rescue program and the helicopter search and rescue team which works in conjunction with Texas Military Department.  In fact, right after LT’s visit, Texas Task Force 1 was deployed to Florida ahead of Hurricane Dorian.  You can follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/txtf1/.

LT’s behind the scenes tour, included a tour of  TX-TF1’s Operational Warehouse by Meribeth Kahlick and select members of Texas Task Force 1’s operations team, as well as, a demonstration and overview of the Canine Team’s Search & Rescue operations by Training Coordinator, Christy Bormann.  But the information shared by Susann Brown, Manager of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and former member of Texas Task Force 1, had Leadership Texas 2019 asking themselves how prepared they were in the case of a disaster.

Here is what LT learned and what we all must know…

  1. Have a Plan – do you know what steps you should take in the event of a disaster?  Do you know where to take shelter?  Does your workplace have a plan?  The first step to take is to know what disasters your neighborhood is more susceptible to, such as flooding, tornadoes, wild fires, etc.  Then make a plan that includes how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings; where you will take shelter; what is the best evacuation route; and how you will communicate with family if you are separated.  For help designing your family’s plan, go to Make a Plan.  Families with children can make preparation fun with FEMA’s disaster games…check it out at Ready Kids.   If you want an in-depth guide on citizen preparedness, simply download the entire “Are you ready?” booklet.  And what if disaster strikes while you are at work, is your organization prepared?  FEMA has designed interactive planning exercises for organizations to review with employees.
  2. Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit – your kits should include at least three days of water and three days of non-perishable food and be housed in a secure location for shelter.  Other items for your kit include:  flashlights, a battery powered or hand-crank radio for emergency alerts, prescription medicines,  and tools to help you get out if the structure is compromised.  Click Emergency Supply Kit for a list of items to include in your kit.  And for pet owners, make sure your pet is a part of that plan!  The Red Cross has put together a great Disaster Safety Checklist for you and your pet.
  3. Know How to Contact Your Family – your emergency plan and preparedness kit should include a family communication plan will help you and your family in case of an emergency.  Texas Task Force 1 has a great Family Emergency form referenced on their website that details all the steps to help you communicate to your family and to others.  The information includes where family members may be located outside of the home, like work addresses and school addresses.  It even provides cards for your wallet, purse or backpack for family members to keep on them.
  4. Download the FEMA App – this app will let you receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service, locate open emergency shelters in your area and help you learn emergency safety tips.  In fact, the app will even walk you through building your emergency kit and help you plan your emergency meeting locations.  Download the FEMA app through Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Susann Brown also reminded Leadership Texas 2019 that a plan will help you stay calm when a disaster strikes.  Make a plan and then remember if you are in an emergency situation….stay calm.  Perseverance is the key…don’t give up.  Fear can be overwhelming and will take over rational thought, so if you find yourself frozen or unable to think during an emergency situation…start counting.  This simple exercise will help to reengage your brain.