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September Marks National Preparedness Month

September is “National Preparedness Month” in Pennsylvania – but how prepared are you?

Glenn Cannon, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), said there are many potential emergencies the commonwealth faces: flooding, winter storms, tornadoes and the threat of issues with one of the nine nuclear reactors.

“People need to have plans for what to do if they’re out in their car, what do they do at work, what do you do – mom and dad – when you’re at work and mom’s at work and the kids are at school and something happens, do you know how to get in touch with people,” Cannon said.

According to Save the Children, a committee that works to ensure the safety of children during a disaster, 68 million children are separated from their parents every workday.

Pennsylvania received a failing grade on Save the Children’s national disaster report card because it does not have a plan for children with special needs during an emergency.

PEMA suggested taking three steps before a crisis happens – be informed of what emergencies your region faces, be prepared with supplies and plans and be involved by volunteering and training to help during a disaster.

“We try to tell people to prepare for the eventuality that you might lose power or you might need to be evacuating from your home if it’s an area that’s going to be flooded and that you have made plans in advance of something bad happening,” Cannon said.

He said history has shown that emergency responders cannot reach everyone immediately after a disaster, so PEMA recommended people prepare to sustain themselves for a minimum of 72 hours.

“Just in case we can’t get help to them immediately, that they can sustain that they’ve got water for every individual, they’ve got food for each individual member of the family, that they have medicines if people need them, that they’ve taken care of having food for their pets, you know those kind of things,” Cannon said.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, insured losses totaled $35 billion last year because of natural disasters or emergencies in the United States.

The International Disaster Database showed that 106 million people worldwide were affected by disasters in 2012. 

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.
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