ETX Public Health Department encourages emergency preparedness - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX Public Health Department encourages emergency preparedness

JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) -

What would you do in an emergency? One East Texas agency wants you to start thinking about it.

The Cherokee County Public Health Department has been partnering with several agencies over the last few months, including the county's Head Start, WIC, and Access departments, to help vulnerable populations become more prepared for emergencies.

The health department says that in preparing their county's most vulnerable populations - the elderly, families with young children and people with mental health issues - they've run into all levels of emergency preparedness.

And they want to get the word out to everyone that you need to start thinking about what to do if the worst happens.

To get these populations started, the agencies have prepared and are in the process of handing out 1,400 emergency kits, which should include a first aid kit, a light source and radio, and three to five days worth of non-perishable food and one to two gallons of water per day for each family member.

Officials say that because disasters happen without any notice, it's important to be prepared.

"You can see, you know, the stories about the bombing in Boston, the explosion in West, the tornadoes in Moore, so they're happening all the time," said Rhonda Jones, the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Cherokee County Public Health Dept. "And it's just, you never know when something may happen and you have to react on a moment's notice."

Jones says it's important to realize that an emergency kit is only the beginning of an emergency plan.

"You need to figure out how you're going to do certain things. If you're going to shelter at home, how are you going to do that? If you're told to evacuate, have an evacuation plan, know several different routes. If for some reason you can't evacuate yourself, have a plan on who's going to come and help you evacuate," Jones said.

Jones says it's important to keep your kit in a bag so it's easily accessible.

"If an evacuation is called and you need to leave right then, you can have your bag packed, grab it, and go," Jones explained. "Even if you're sheltering in place, it's much easier to have everything you're going to need confined to one space so you can get to it."

The Cherokee County Public Health Department has already identified the 1,400 individuals and families who will receive their emergency kits. They have until August 15 to distribute them.

For information on how to start an emergency kit of your own, visit Texas Prepares.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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