NEMA: Businesses, People Should Prepare for Natural, Man-made Disasters


September 6th, 2016

An example of an emergency preparedness kit. (Image courtesy of FEMA)

An example of an emergency preparedness kit. (Image courtesy of FEMA)

September is National Preparedness Month, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency wants you to be informed, make a plan, and build a kit.

Bryan Tuma is the assistant director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, or NEMA.

He said people used to prepare for natural disasters, but after the September 11th terrorist attacks, people—and businesses—had to start preparing for something else.

“We live in a different world now,” Tuma said. “There are other issues that we have to think about besides just severe weather. We try to emphasize we have to think about all hazards, and that may include not only natural disasters but man made events or emergencies that could occur including now the real threat or issue of terrorism.”

Tuma recommends having at least three days of food and water at your home. Also things like flashlights, batteries, blankets, medications; anything you might need to make it for at least 72 hours on your own.

As far as businesses are concerned, Tuma said they should focus on what he calls continuity of operation issues.

For example, what occurs if the business is impacted by some type of an  man-made event? How does the business owner sustain business activity afterwards? What are they doing to address the safety and well-being of their employees?

On a more somber note, Tuma said if someone walks into business with the intent to harm, what is the plan on where employees should find shelter?

“Are those facilities identified? Do employees know and understand where they should go in the event they have to seek shelter? Are there strategies around sheltering in place depending on the type of event?” Tuma said, “There may be a requirement [employees] actually have to evacuate the facility and if so, what are the procedures associated with doing that.”

Shutting a business down quickly in the event of an emergency is also important according to Tuma.

The theme for this year’s Preparedness Month is “Don’t Wait, Communicate.” Tuma said NEMA is encouraging everyone to talk about their emergency plans with their families, and what items each person will need.

“People might want to evaluate what type of provisions they have in stock in their homes,” he said, “Do they have freezers? Do they have dry food? Do they have adequate drinking water? Those kinds of issues.”

Tuma said even though national preparedness month is in the fall, when putting their emergency kits together, people should keep all seasons of the year in mind. That means bug spray in the Summer, and warm clothes in the Winter.

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