What’s your emergency plan?

Homeland Security wants you to have one

Emergency kit

Being prepared for emergencies is something most of us think about but do not execute in advance of the actual emergency. When it comes to emergencies, are you fully prepared? Do you have a kit? Do you have a plan? Do you know where your emergency necessities are located? Are you informed about your emergency options?

Whether or not you are ready, this article will help you prepare or review your emergency plans, kits and preparations. Joe Kelly, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, helps communities, local governments and individuals get prepared for emergencies.

Joe Kelly, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Joe Kelly, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Kelly states, “When talking about [emergency] preparedness we mean [you are] ready and know what [you are] going to do if something bad happens. If someone hears a tornado warning or if authorities say it is not safe to be in our homes, we must know what to do and we must be prepared to do it immediately.

“September is a month that we want people to think about and plan what they will do in the event of an emergency. We must be better prepared than we were a couple years ago for the tornado that happened in the Twin Cities.”

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety suggests all Minnesotans do three things: 1) have an emergency plan, 2) make an emergency kit, and 3) get informed.

Kelly stresses that having a specific place to meet will save a lot of time and worry for family and friends. “We want people to have a plan whether your house is on fire, or there is some place in the neighborhood for us to go when we need to be emergency safe. If your family is not all together, where are you going to meet? It can be a specific street, a family member or friend’s home or some other location that everyone knows. But the important part is that everyone knows where to go.”

“It is also important for us to know and memorize phone numbers,” Kelly continues. “Nowadays, we just push someone’s name in our cell phone without ever memorizing their number. But if we have no cell service, and we know the emergency contact number by heart, we may still be able to dial from a land line or someone else’s cell phone.”

Kelly suggests having a cellphone wall charger and car charger in your to-go bag and emergency kits. If you have no electricity, you may still have your car, so you can always use that car phone charger. “We also encourage people to text instead of calling during high-demand emergency times. Texting takes up less data usage and can generally go through better in times of high call volume.”

With the increase in technology, cell phones now come with built in weather alerts. When there are emergency alerts in your area, you get them sent right to your phone through text messaging.

Here are a few ideas for your to-go bag and your emergency kit:

To-go bag

  • Empty water bottle (can be filled up at gas station)
  • Personal care items (toothbrush and toothpaste, under garments)
  • Cell phone charger
  • Medications (take a couple out of your bottles and set aside for your emergency kit)

Take pets with you. Most shelters are prepared to deal with pets. Also keep paper documents of names and numbers to call when without a cell phone. Try keeping a paper map, cash, checkbook, credit cards. If you are going to be gone a day or two, pack a change of clothes if they will fit in your to-go bag.

Take Cover Emergency kit

Pack three days of emergency supplies. It sounds like a long time, but in cases like Hurricane Katrina, or some other catastrophe, people may be stranded for a few days with no access to food or clothing.

Water supplies are important. A gallon per day per person should be good in the short term. Pack perishable food items such as granola bars or other high-carbohydrate foods. Flashlights with extra batteries are also needed.

Whistles are recommended. In case a person is stuck in the basement or lower level of a building, the whistle is a way of communicating to someone who can help.

Also, tools for turning off utilities are important, as well as packing things to keep our minds occupied, like books, puzzles, word finds or even makeup.

Pack a first-aid kit that includes all of your wound-healing necessities.


For more information, go to https://dps.mn.gov and choose the Homeland Security and Emergency Management division.

Brandi D. Phillips welcomes reader responses to bphillips@spokesman-recorder.com.