How often do you think about emergencies or disasters?
Maybe after it happens to someone else?
Emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time, so it is important for everyone to be prepared at places where they spend a lot of time, like at home, at work, and in the community. People with chronic conditions (like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or asthma) need to take extra steps to plan for disasters.
According to the Citizens Corps National Survey conducted in 2009, only 57% of Americans had emergency supplies set-aside in their homes.
Less than half—44%—had an emergency plan. 25% said they did not have the time to prepare and another 25% said they did not know what to do to prepare.
And yet, 42% of individuals said that they would need help during a disaster.
People should prepare to be on their own for at least three days. Imagine having a serious illness and not having basic supplies for three days during an emergency… no food, no water, no flashlights, no radios, and no medication. Now imagine how much easier those three days can be if you take just a few simple steps to prepare now.
Plan now to prepare yourself and your loved ones for emergencies. Emergencies can include natural disasters, severe weather, explosions, chemical spills and disease outbreaks. Learn how to make an emergency kit and emergency plan, how to stay informed, and how to get involved.
Chronic conditions affect many people in Philadelphia. Learn how to be prepared for a public health emergency while maintaining your treatment plan for your chronic condition.
Many people agree that taking some simple steps to get ready will help when an emergency happens.
But only some of us have taken any of the steps. We suggest that all families:
If you want to help your community get prepared, join Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Volunteers Active in Disaster (VOAD) or Citizen Corps . Through SEPA VOAD, you can learn how to help your community when a disaster happens. SEPA VOAD offers free training . They will match community needs with trained volunteers after a disaster hits.
If you have a medical background, you can register to become a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteer. The MRC is run by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and offers a number of training opportunities, as well as invitations to participate in public health emergency preparedness exercises.
All businesses should undertake business continuity planning to ensure that they can continue to function during and in the aftermath of the emergency. This involves developing agreements and plans with everyone who is essential your business, like subcontractors, suppliers and employees.
The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management has developed a number of tools that can be useful in developing emergency preparedness planning.
We further recommend that all businesses work with their human resources departments to prepare for public health emergencies. Public health emergencies are different from "normal" disasters because they don't just happen in one place, at one time. People who have become sick from the emergency can potentially spread the disease to other people, even at work.
We recommend that all sick people should stay home from school and work. If lots of people are sick, like might happen during a flu pandemic, will your employees be able to stay home if they do get sick? Can they work from home, or come into work during "off-business" hours?
Thinking about these things before an outbreak occurs will ensure that your business can continue to function during and after the emergency.
For businesses that deal with food, it is important to stress good hand hygiene for all employees. The Acute Communicable Disease Control Program and Office of Food Protection have developed a number of tips and fact sheets that will help keep your company from being the source of an outbreak.