With Hurricane Preparedness Week this week, May 24-30, and the start of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, the timing of Sandy Joslyn’s visit to the Zachary Rotary Club May 21 couldn’t have been better.
But as Joslyn — a Disaster Action Team captain with the American Red Cross — points out, hurricanes aren’t the only disasters residents should prepare for.
“Did you know that we get earthquakes here in Louisiana? There’s a fault that runs underneath College Drive, and not too long ago, Greensburg registered a 3.5 earthquake while White Castle had a 4.5 magnitude quake,” Joslyn said. “I tell you that not to frighten you but to say that there are many disaster-related events that could affect us all, and being prepared is vital for your survival as well as that of your family’s.”
As a DAT captain, Joslyn says her job is to coordinate relief efforts for victims of all disasters, not just hurricanes, within the first three days, helping people get their feet on the ground.
“We recently had a level two disaster in Louisiana with that string of tornadoes that came through the Baton Rouge area a few weeks ago,” said Joslyn. “Many people said they didn’t even know a tornado was imminent.” Joslyn told the service organization about a series of American Red Cross apps that are available, each designed to alert users when the threat of a disaster, such as a tornado, is close.
“The apps are easy to download, navigate and best of all, they’re free. It’ll alert you, for instance, when a tornado is near your home or the homes of your friends or family,” said Joslyn.
Similar ARC apps for hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other disasters are also available.
“It only takes one storm or disaster to change your life and community, so being prepared for yourself, family, home and business will lessen the effects of a disaster,” Joslyn said.
Joslyn, a mother of eight, says each of her children are disaster-ready, having packed their own “go bags” or survival kits with necessary items.
“There are many different kinds of preparedness kits and lists you can make, but having a three-day survival kit or bag can be really useful for many different types of emergency situations. You never know when you may need it,” said Joslyn. “My husband was trapped on a highway once for seven hours following a bad wreck, and the things that were in that kit helped him get through a long ordeal.”
A safe bet for a personal “go bag” would include, but not be limited to, the following items: a change of clothes including at least one long-sleeved shirt and one pair of pants, socks, a lightweight, waterproof blanket or plastic poncho, personal hygiene items, bandages or small first-aid kit, gloves, flashlight, battery-powered or hand crank radio, copies of important documents, identification, medication, cash, extra set of car and house keys, lighter or waterproof matches, bottles of water, nonperishable food items such as energy bars, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, cellphone with charger or solar-powered charger and comfort items.
“Packing comfort items for yourself, little ones or teens can be a lifesaver. Everyone will need something to do if your family is away from home for an extended amount of time,” said Joslyn. “Remember to pack things that are good and useful.”
As part of her presentation, Joslyn handed out Louisiana Emergency Preparedness guides, which can be downloaded at http://www.getagameplan.org.
For a list of Red Cross apps, resources and other tools, visit www.redcross.org.