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September 30, 2013

Do 1 Thing: Be Informed

By: Cate Shockey

Getting correct information during an emergency is critical to making the right decisions.  There are many ways to stay informed, from staying connected to information from local authorities to knowing how your community alerts residents of dangerous situations. Make sure your family can receive, understand, and act on information in an emergency.

In my area, severe weather is the biggest threat.  Decatur, Georgia, has a tornado siren that sounds when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for the Decatur area.  The sirens, located in each quadrant of the city, sound for 3-5 minutes per warning.  From where I live and work, I can hear the siren test every Wednesday, even from inside.  Decatur also has a CodeRedExternal Web Site Icon system to alert citizens of emergency situations that require immediate action, such as weather warnings, evacuation notices, chemical spills, water contamination, and power outages.  Do you know how your community would alert you in an emergency? 

It is also imperative to make sure you are connected through TV, radio, internet, and smartphones to help you make informed decisions to keep you and your family safe.  Whether you are at home, work, or school, there are plenty of ways to keep informed. 

For my parents, overnight storms have rocked the Nashville area in recent years.   Tornadoes at night are particularly dangerous as people are asleep and caught unaware.  To make sure my parents were ready, this spring they bought a NOAA weather radioExternal Web Site Icon to make sure they were receiving warnings around the clock.

Red Cross Hurricane App

With evolving technology, there are plenty of options for keeping informed.  CDC, FEMAExternal Web Site Icon, Red CrossExternal Web Site Icon, the Weather ChannelExternal Web Site Icon, and even many local news stations have developed apps and emergency alert systems.  CDC recently signed up to participate in the new Twitter Alerts program.  Intended for crisis and emergency information, you can subscribeExternal Web Site Icon through your Twitter account to get our most critical updates.

Here are a few things you can do this month to make sure you stay informed:

  • Understand what risks affect your area. Learn about your community’s warning system (e.g., sirens) and find out if your local emergency management uses a website, text messaging, or even Twitter.
  • Make sure everyone in your family knows how to use text messaging.  In an emergency, if phone lines are down, texting may be the best way to communicate.  If someone in your family does not know how text messaging works, sit down with them this month and teach them the basics.
  • For your home, purchase a NOAA emergency alert radio, which turns itself on to warn you when an emergency alert is issued.
  • Develop a family communication plan.  Know how to contact each other, and where to meet if phone lines are jammed.
  • Neighborhood Watch AlertsExternal Web Site Icon provides free email or text message alerts for all people and neighborhoods with or without formal or informal neighborhood watch programs.  Many federal agencies run alerts through this program. 

Check out Do 1 ThingExternal Web Site Icon for more tips and information, and start putting your plans in place for unexpected events. Are YOU ready?

How do YOU stay informed in an emergency?  Leave a comment and let us know!

http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2013/09/do-1-thing-be-informed/