DHHS Recognizes National Preparedness Month and Urges NH Residents to Get Prepared

Concord, NH - The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is recognizing September as National and New Hampshire Preparedness Month.Emergencies can happen anywhere, as evidenced by the three floods in the State of recent years and of course the tornado this summer. This year’s theme is "Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed and Get Involved”.

“We never know when a storm or other emergency will strike and it can happen here,” said Nicholas Toumpas, DHHS Commissioner. “It is crucial that everyone be proactive and prepare beforehand. Being prepared makes sense and will give you and your family peace of mind.”

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey of 2007, administered by the DHHS Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), asked New Hampshire residents some questions about personal preparedness for the first time. The survey is administered annually in all 50 states. Only three states asked the preparedness questions for 2007: New Hampshire, Delaware, and Louisiana.

“The results were not exactly what we expected,” said Dr. Jose Montero, Director of Public Health, “but they were very enlightening. Most people are somewhat prepared, but of course the goal is to have all people in the state fully prepared.”

Some specific findings were that only 21% of households said their household has a written disaster evacuation plan; only 54% of households have a three-day supply of water on hand; 76% of respondents said they would rely on cell phones to communicate with family and friends (which frequently fail immediately after a disaster); and most people reported that they would listen to the radio for information after a disaster. One of the most surprising results is that when asked if public authorities announced a mandatory evacuation would you evacuate, 7% of people said no.

Some of the steps to consider taking when preparing for emergencies are: Have a pantry somewhere in your house and stock it with foods that have a long shelf life, such as canned goods, water, and dried foods, such as pasta and oatmeal Stock flashlights, batteries, and paper goods Make sure you have extra prescription medications, baby food and diapers, and pet food Have a written plan on where to meet if you have to leave your home or if you can’t all get back to your home, to make sure everyone in your family is accounted for, and practice the plan so everyone is familiar with it Keep cash, phone cards, and cell phone car chargers on hand Keep a supply of basic medical products in your home, such as band aids, pain killers, and cold remedies Consider an alternative source of heat besides your furnace in case there is no electricity for an extended period of time.

“The Department of Health and Human Services has been working in coordination with other State departments and partners to develop plans, procedures, and working groups to help us be better prepared,” said Montero. “The threat of bioterrorism, natural disasters, and infectious diseases are ever present. We have been working with many partners to improve emergency planning and coordinate all our efforts, especially on the local level.”

For more information on personal emergency preparedness, visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/DHHS/DPHS/LIBRARY/Brochure/7-makes-sense.htm and www.ready.gov or www.ready.gov/america/npm08/intro.html for a brochure on what you need to be prepared.