The Department of Health today reminded all Pennsylvanians to take steps now to prepare for potential emergencies and disasters.
“September is recognized as National Preparedness Month and the department wants to stress the importance of being prepared to ensure our fellow Pennsylvanians are ready to handle any potential emergency or disaster that could come our way,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The rest of this year still holds uncertainty with COVID-19 and its related impacts. The best way to stay safe this fall is to prepare, stay alert, and stay calm.”
This fall, students should give extra thought to the materials they need for a successful school year. It is important to include at least one extra cloth face mask and plenty of hand sanitizer in their backpacks. If a student is wearing a mask that gets wet or dirty, they should practice mask etiquette by taking it off and putting on a clean, dry mask. Then, place the wet or dirty mask in a plastic bag inside of their backpack and wash immediately when they get home.
Now is the time to update emergency and health plans. In the case of an early dismissal due to a COVID-19 positive case or other emergency, students should have the phone numbers of their parents or guardians in their backpack. Likewise, parents and legal guardians should have a plan for picking up children from school. Discuss a health plan with your family to make sure all of your doctor appointments and vaccines, including the flu vaccine, are up to date.
As has been seen recently across the United States, parts of the country have dealt with significant flood and wind damage from numerous hurricanes, wildfires in the western part of the country and significant drought. There have also been increased health threats from counts of civil unrest demonstrations with large gatherings across the country. All of this has occurred amidst a nationwide pandemic.
“The Pennsylvania Department of Health is prepared to handle any hazard, and even multiple hazards at once,” said Ray Barishansky, Deputy Secretary of Health Preparedness and Community Protection. “Working with other state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, we are prepared to respond to COVID-19, natural disasters, man-made disasters and other hazards to protect Pennsylvanians. It is important for each of us to take steps to prepare for a potential disaster, and to teach our children how to prepare as well.”
Pennsylvanians face many different hazards from natural disasters such as flooding, winter storms, and summer storms to man-made disasters such as fires, hazardous material incidents, possible issues at nuclear power plant facilities and terrorist attacks. The department, along with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, has Emergency Preparedness Guides available on our website in English, large print English, Spanish, Chinese, German and Russian.
Other ways to be prepared for an emergency or disaster include:
- Learning CPR;
- Learning first aid;
- Checking your insurance policy to see whether it covers hazards such as flooding, earthquakes and tornadoes;
- Knowing how to shut off water and gas at your home;
- Having a family emergency plan;
- Having a list of all medications you take;
- Creating an emergency kit with enough supplies in case you lose power for three days;
- Planning for those with access and functional needs in your home, such as infants, seniors, and those with intellectual and physical disabilities;
- Planning for your pets and their needs; and
- Having a family reunification plan, in case you must leave your home during an emergency.
For more information on emergency preparedness in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.