Disasters can affect any part of Nebraska at any time of the year, swiftly and without warning. Most people don't think of a disaster until it is too late; then they suddenly realize how unprepared they are for the massive changes it makes in their lives. Local officials can be overwhelmed and emergency response personnel may not be able to reach everyone who needs help right away.
Each type of disaster requires clean-up and recovery. The period after a disaster is often very difficult for families, at times as devastating as the disaster itself. Families which are prepared ahead of time can reduce the fear, confusion and losses that come with disaster. They can be ready to evacuate their homes, know what to expect in public shelters and how to provide basic first aid.
Get a Kit
A family preparedness kit should contain enough supplies to sustain your family for up to 72 hours. Emergency officials feel that in a disaster which overwhelms government response it may be up to 72 hours before someone can get to your area. Don't forget to plan for family members with special needs and pets.
Make a Plan
Planning for a disaster before it strikes can alleviate stress in a stressful situation. A family plan should include emergency contact numbers, insurance information, doctor and prescription information. It is also a good idea to make everyone aware of a contact person such as a relative or friend out of the immediate area so if everyone is separated members can contact them to pass information on to other members. The plan should include any additional information needed for members with special needs.
During and before a disaster information is key. Identify multiple methods of receiving warning information. All hazards radio, or weather radio, is one method of receiving not just weather alerts but also emergency information. TV and Radio are good sources of information. For the Columbus area KLIR FM 101.1 and KJSK AM 900 are identified stations that Emergency Management works with. The outdoor warning system or sometimes known as the tornado sirens are sounded when Columbus is included in a tornado warning. Remember the sirens are only meant to be heard outdoors, they are tested the first Saturday of the month from April to October. Columbus and Platte County also utilize an Emergency Notification System. This system allows emergency personal to target specific geographic locations such as a neighborhood, city block, or a community to provide emergency information over your wired telephone. Tornado and other weather events are not alerted on this system. The system will also work with cell phones and other phone service that utilize VOIP such as Time Warner Telephone or Vonage. You will need to register your VOIP phone with the ENS system. Remember no one method of emergency information is reliable and it is recommended multiple methods be monitored.
Also to be informed you must be aware of the risks in your area, Nebraska is notorious for severe weather and it is one of the primary risks in this area. Flooding also occurs along the various rivers and creeks in Platte County so those in those areas prone to flooding should also make preparations for those risks. With the area a hub for two major highways and the mainline UP railroad tracks going through Columbus the possibility of chemical leaks or spills can be of concern and sheltering in place should be planned for.
If you Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed you and your family will be more prepared if a disaster strikes.
For up-to-date preparedness information please visit ready.gov.
For additional information or to learn CPR and First Aid visit the Red Cross website.