Parkland Officers Provides Disaster Safety Tips

Staying safe during a disaster such as a tornado begins with planning before the disaster occurs.

“People plan for a vacation, they plan what they’re going to have for dinner, they plan who they’re going out with on Saturday night, but they don’t plan for negative things like tornadoes, floods, fires or even car crashes,” said Chris Noah, MS, CHSP, Parkland Health & Hospital System’s Director of Disaster Management. “The majority of people don’t plan for something that they don’t think will ever happen.”

But planning, Noah said, could mean the difference between life and death.

That’s why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recognizes September as National Preparedness Month.

The theme this year is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

According to Noah, it begins with creating a family communication plan, starting with a straightforward question.

“What if I’m separated from my family when something happens? Does everyone know what they’re supposed to do? If I’m at work, will I be able to take my usual route home, or is there a backup plan for these types of emergencies,” Noah said.

Officials with DHS say planning starts with three easy steps:

  • Create a paper copy of the contact information, including medical facilities, doctors, schools, or service providers.
  • Make sure everyone carries a copy in her or her backpack, purse, or wallet.
  • Have regular household meetings to review and practice the plan.

In 2020, there were 1,075 tornadoes in Tornado Alley, which comprises Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Kansas. Last year, there were 92 confirmed tornadoes in Texas, down from 184 in 2019.

“The bottom line is no one thinks something bad is going to happen to them, and in most cases, it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t. It’s not a matter of if something is going to happen. It’s when,” Noah said. “That’s why having answers to the ‘ifs’ is critically important. Planning today could mean a safer tomorrow.”

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