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(by Lydia Blankenship, R.N., trauma program manager at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center & St. David’s Emergency Center in Bastrop)

Two years ago this month, the worst wildfire in our state’s history ravaged Bastrop County. As we know, and we are reminded by this tragic event, natural and other disasters can happen at any time.

September is National Preparedness Month. In recognition, I want to outline a few ways that residents of Bastrop (and Central Texas) can prepare, plan and stay informed should another tragedy of any sort strike again.

  • Stay informed. Tune into local radio stations for weather and/or evacuation updates.
  • Make a plan. Emergency planning, such as where to meet, how to evacuate, safe shelter areas and plans for pets, are important. Be sure to discuss the plan with your family members regularly and update information as needed.
  • Build a kit. During a disaster, resources might not be available for use. Be sure to have enough emergency supplies on hand for your family. Supplies should include:
    1. Water (one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation)
    2. Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
    3. Required medical prescriptions
    4. A battery-powered radio and a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio with a tone alert (and extra batteries for both)
    5. A first aid kit
    6. A whistle to signal for help
    7. Dust masks to help filter contaminated air
    8. Plastic sheeting and duct tape to “shelter in place”
    9. Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    10. A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, when necessary
    11. A manual can opener for food
    12. Local maps
    13. A car charger for your cell phone

It’s also a good idea to keep your gas tank filled and keep your cell phone charged at all times, as you never know when a disaster can strike.

While we all hope we will never need to use any of these things, it’s better to prepare now than to be sorry later.

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