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By J. Calvin Parrish, Virginia Farm Service Agency, State Executive Director
As the State Executive Director of Virginia, I have traveled around this great state and have personally seen the resilience of our farmers and ranchers. I have watched them rebuild from natural disasters and bounce back from the harsh blows dealt by Mother Nature.
The USDA Farm Service Agency plays an active role in aiding producers during hardships such as these. We do a good job of caring for the constituents we serve. However, we all should do a better job of preparing for disasters when they strike, especially the ones that put our families at serious risk.
This September is National Preparedness Month and the Farm Service Agency is participating in America’s PrepareAthon by sharing helpful tips to educate the local community on the importance of being prepared for emergencies. The National Day of Action is September 30, 2014. The event, hosted by the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps, is a month-long effort to encourage households, businesses, and communities to prepare and plan for emergencies.
It is important that you be prepared in the event of an emergency that may force you to be self-reliant for three or more days. Situations such as lost electricity, contaminated water supplies, or roads cut off so you cannot get to the supermarket – these are things you may rarely think about. There may even be a time when you have no access to police, fire, or rescue. What do you do in those situations?
Our focus during this month is turning awareness into action by encouraging all individuals and communities nationwide to make an emergency preparedness plan. In 2012, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As few as 39 percent of individuals reported having an adequate household emergency plan.
You can start preparing with four important steps:
1. Stay Informed: Information is available from federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial resources. Access the Ready.gov website to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency.
2. Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on, and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For sample plans, visit the Ready.gov website. Work together with neighbors, colleagues, and others to build community resilience.
3. Build a Kit: Keep enough emergency supplies — water, nonperishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight, and battery-powered radio on hand — for you and those in your care.
4. Get Involved: There are many ways to get involved especially before a disaster occurs. The whole community can participate in programs and activities to make their families, homes, and places of worship safer from risks and threats. Community leaders agree that the formula for ensuring a safer homeland consists of volunteers, a trained and informed public, and increased support of emergency response agencies during disasters.
We know all too often that emergency situations do not wait for us to get ready. They hit unexpectedly and with little or no time to prepare.
Now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to take action and now is the time to plan so that your family, neighbors, and communities can be ready for any natural disaster that may arise.
For more information about the Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month, visit http://www.ready.gov/be-informed
or call 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO, and TTY 1-800-462-7585.