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Individual and Community Preparedness

October 6, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Expected to Impact Atlantic States

According to recent information from FEMA, Matthew is a major hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale with sustained winds near 145 miles per hour (MPH) and while some fluctuations in intensity are possible during the next couple of days, this storm is expected to remain a powerful hurricane. According to the National Hurricane Center, the current forecast models for impact to the United States vary greatly from direct landfall to remaining offshore along the East Coast.
The How to Prepare for a Hurricane guide from America’s PrepareAthon! outlines step you can take today to protect  yourself and your property before a hurricane hits, including:
  • Know your community’s local hurricane evacuation plan and identify several escape routes from your location in case roads are blocked;
  • If you plan to evacuate by car, keep your car fueled and in good condition and be sure to keep emergency supplies and a change of clothes in your vehicle;
  • If you will need to use public transportation, contact your local government emergency management agency to ask how an evacuation will work, how you will get current information during an evacuation, and the location of staging areas;
  • Stay away from water, shorelines, areas that are prone to flooding, and low land  areas that may be dry but prone to  flash flooding;
  • Listen to alerts and warnings and be prepared to get to high ground immediately if there is a flash flood;
  • Never walk or drive through floodwaters: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!;
  • If you are not in an evacuation zone or flood area, know where to shelter for high winds and be prepared with sufficient supplies to remain on high ground until flooding in nearby areas subsides;
  • Waterproof your home’s basement and elevate critical utilities such as electrical panels and heating systems; and
  • If it’s safe to do, plan to bring inside or anchor any items that might be blown away and become projectiles in high winds. Anchor outdoor grills, fuel tanks, and other items that are not safe to bring inside.
To learn more about preparing for hurricanes, check out “When the Waves Swell” from America’s PrepareAthon! and download the FEMA mobile app which will give you real-time weather updates and alerts.  Be sure to share with family, friends, and neighbors.

Fire Prevention Week

replace smoke alarms
October 9-15, 2016 is Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.” According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), it’s important to remember that smoke alarms do not last forever. Check the manufacture date on the back of your alarms. If it is older than 10 years, replace the alarm because the sensors become less sensitive.
Take the time during Fire Prevention Week to test your smoke alarms. Make sure you have an alarm on every level of your home, inside and outside each sleeping area, and in the basement.
Sit down with everyone in your home and discuss your home fire escape plan. As you make this plan, consider the following questions:
  • Does everyone know two ways out of each room, in case one way is blocked by fire?
  • Can everyone get themselves out alone?
  • Does anyone in your home need assistance to get out quickly? If so, who will help them?
  • Do you have a meeting place outside your home?
Once you have developed a home fire escape plan, practice it to be sure everyone can get out safely!

The USFA recommends everyone have working smoke alarms, practice a home fire escape plan and consider installing home fire sprinklers in their home. Find more information about smoke alarms, escape plans, and home fire sprinklers as well as other fire safety topics at

The Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill is Coming

At 10:20 a.m. on October 20, 2016, millions of people will practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On during Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills held worldwide. Many people and organizations will also practice other aspects of their emergency plans.
Last year, more than 43 million people participated in ShakeOut. Most held their drills on International ShakeOut Day, the third Thursday of October each year. Visit to learn more and register your participation today!
What you do now determines how well you can survive and recover later. Watch this video from America’s PrepareAthon! to learn more about earthquake safety. 
You can also support ShakeOut on social media by participating in their Thunderclap on October 20 at 10:00 a.m. EDT. To join in, go to the ShakeOut Thunderclap and agree to post a one-time message on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr promoting the earthquake drill.   

The Flu and You

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. While seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October.
People who have the flu often experience some or all of these symptoms:
  • Cough;
  • Sore throat;
  • Runny or stuffy nose;
  • Muscle or body aches;
  • Headaches;
  • Fatigue; or
  • Fever (It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.)
Having the flu can make you miss work, school, or spend time in the hospital. The CDC recommends the following preventive measures to stay healthy this flu season, including:
  • Get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age or older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October, if possible. Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness; and 
  • Take daily actions to stop the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Help family and friends stay flu safe this season, too! Share important health messages with them using these interactive CDC e-cards.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which raises awareness about cybersecurity. This annual campaign is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.
Each week has a theme:
  • Week 1 (October 3 –7): Every Day Steps Towards Online Safety with Stop.Think.Connect.
  • Week 2 (October 10 – 14): Cyber from the Break Room to the Board Room
  • Week 3 (October 17 – 21): Recognizing and Combatting Cybercrime
  • Week 4 (October 24 – 28): Our Continuously Connected Lives: What’s Your ‘App’-titude?
  • Week 5 (October 31): Building Resilience in Critical Infrastructure
Visit the Resource page to find more information and how you can get involved.

Dates for Your Calendar

Disclaimer: The reader recognizes that the federal government provides links and informational data on various disaster preparedness resources and events and does not endorse any non-federal events, entities, organizations, services or products. Please let us know about other events and services for individual and community preparedness that could be included in future newsletters by contacting [email protected].

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