September is National Preparedness Month and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) joins state and national partners in encouraging year-round personal and community preparedness for disasters and disease outbreaks. Oklahoma’s recent storms are a reminder that severe weather can strike any time of year.

Personal health preparedness is about people having the ability to care for themselves and their family in the immediate hours and days following an emergency or disaster. Oklahomans have seen numerous severe weather events where power outages affected thousands of residents across the state.

Scott Sproat, director of the OSDH Emergency Preparedness and Response Service, said personal preparedness is vital to being able to recover from a disaster or public health emergency.

“It’s important for a household to be able to sustain itself for at least 72 hours,” said Sproat. “More resilient households make more resilient communities who are better able to recover after a disaster.”

In addition to basic supplies such as non-perishable and ready-to-eat food, water, first aid supplies, flashlights and batteries; families should ensure they have enough personal items such as prescription medication for several days and a cooler or chemical ice packs to keep certain medications cold during a power outage.

OSDH Emergency Manager Darrell Eberly said those with disabilities or special medical needs should plan ahead for accessible transportation needed for evacuation or to seek medical care.

“Those who use medical equipment requiring electricity should talk with a health care provider about how to prepare for its usage during a power outage,” said Eberly. “If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information explains the best way to communicate with you. Those who rely on dialysis should discuss with your dialysis provider how to access service if the regular site is inaccessible.”

In addition, families should have easy access to important documents such as insurance policies and proof of identification in an electronic format on a flash drive or secure cloud-based service.

For more information, preparedness information is available in English, Spanish and American Sign Language by visiting the OSDH YouTube channel and selecting the Preparedness playlist.

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