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Are You Prepared for Emergency Unknowns?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | 06:35am

September is National Preparedness Month

NASHVILLE – Have a Plan. Have a Kit. With September designated as National Preparedness Month, the Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency are urging residents to plan now for what they would need to do in a disaster, and to have a kit of materials to take care of themselves and their families.

TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, and TEMA Director James Bassham will be taking their “Have a Plan; Have a Kit” message across the state throughout September as they promote the importance of emergency preparedness. While both emphasize the state’s capabilities to respond to disasters, they say individuals and families must be prepared to assume a role in personal health and safety.

“TEMA has comprehensive plans to address a range of natural and man-made disasters, but so should individuals and families,” Bassham said. “Plans should include where to meet if a home is destroyed and include a list of important personal information, including medical information, for every family member. The Ready.Gov website has fill-in-the-blank plans available to make it easy to assemble most of the information you would need for your personal emergency plan.”

To access that free form, go to

“We all should be prepared to shelter in place for a minimum of three days,” Dreyzehner said.  “Our health, and the health of our loved ones, could very well depend on our kit and our plan if there is a major disaster. Emergency responders can’t always take care of everyone in a short amount of time. Go to for the basics, including food, water, medications, provisions for pets and essential documents. Make your kit transportable in case you have to move fast.”

TDH and TEMA suggest the following minimum items:  a battery-powered or crank radio and a weather alert radio with extra batteries for both; a First Aid kit; sanitary wipes; a dust mask; water for drinking and sanitation; water purification tablets; waterproof matches and/or a butane lighter; a crank flashlight; plastic sheeting; non-perishable food to last at least three days; disinfectants and appropriate medications. The kit should also include complete medical information for you and your family, including details about dosages of required medications and a list of known health issues.   

For a more thorough list of supply items for individuals and families, download TEMA’s ReadyTN smart phone application at

If you do not have a smartphone, visit

TEMA and TDH also encourage individuals and families to consider seasonal needs. Extra water for hydration and bug repellants are important in the summer; warm clothes and sleeping bags would be critical for winter months.

“Your kit and support materials must be located where you can find them easily and move them quickly,” Bassham said. “The best-supplied kit may not do any good if you can’t take it with you.  We also encourage families to consider a buddy system with nearby families, to help and support one another in the case of extreme emergencies.”

“Because earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and fires can affect almost every Tennessean with little or no notice, we all need to be prepared to take care of ourselves and those we care about until help can arrive,” Dreyzehner said. “The best time to plan and assemble an emergency preparedness kit is now. Not tomorrow; today.”

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit

TEMA’s mission is to coordinate response and recovery during emergencies to reduce loss of life and property in Tennessee, and when not in an emergency, to plan, train, exercise and otherwise prepare for response, recovery and mitigation. For more information, visit

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency | Health | Press Releases