While much has been focused on the disaster known as the Oklahoma State Budget, I want to turn your attention to a more familiar topic – tornado season.
The best defense for a disaster is to prepare a household emergency plan. This includes:
* Investigate options for purchasing a tornado shelter, which includes rebate programs and low-interest loans offered occasionally by the federal, state and county emergency management program, along with local banks.
* Schedule a family meeting to discuss the dangers of possible emergency events including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills and terrorism.
* Discuss how you and your family will respond to each possible emergency.
* Discuss what to do in case of power outages or personal injuries.
* Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room.
* Because it is often easier to call long distance during an emergency than within the affected area, choose an out-of-state friend or relative whom all family members will call if separated during an emergency.
* Pick two meeting places – one near your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after an emergency.
* Keep family records in a water- and fireproof safe. Inexpensive models can be purchased at most hardware stores.
It is also best to prepare a Disaster Supply Kit. Electricity, water, heat, air conditioning or telephone service may not work in an emergency. Preparing disaster supply kits in advance can save precious time in the event you must evacuate or go without utilities for an extended period. Consider including the following items when putting together your disaster supply kit:
* At least a 3-day supply of water (1 gallon per person per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers and replace this every 6 months.
* A 3- to 5-day supply of nonperishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.
* A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.
* Blankets, bedding or sleeping bags.
* A first aid kit and prescription medications (be sure to check expiration dates).
* An extra pair of reading glasses or contact lenses and solution (even if not worn by a family member, it is best to have this in case others take shelter with you).
* Special items for infants, the elderly or family members with disabilities.
* A battery-powered radio, a flashlight and extra batteries.
If you have a tornado shelter, please register it with your city hall or county emergency management office. It is important for fire service and law enforcement to know where to find people following a disaster.
The most important precaution is to take personal responsibility for being prepared for any type of disaster. I encourage you to check out The Fifth Season, a weather awareness show produced by KSWO Channel 7 in Lawton for more tips. I was honored to be a part of this show. You can find the video at http://www.kswo.com/category/298136/5th-season
More on disaster preparation can be found at the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management website at https://www.ok.gov/oem/
Please be prepared!
Joe Dorman served House District 65 as a State Representative for 12 years and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for Governor of Oklahoma. He is currently the Community Outreach Director for True Wireless.