State officials are urging Iowans to visit a new website to garner some disaster preparedness tips. The website — BeReadyIowa.org — was created for the state by Radio Iowa. David Miller, the administrator of Iowa’s Emergency Management division says, “The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina has given us cause to reflect on our own plans and procedures for dealing with disasters that Iowans might face, whether they be caused by nature or human caused.” According to Miller, government officials at all levels can make all sorts of plans to respond to disaster, but those are of little use if individuals don’t think about what they would do if disaster strikes. “It’s the actions (individual citizens) take in the face of an emergency or disaster that make the most difference,” he says. “With responders risking their lives every day to help us, it’s important that citizens help themselves.”
Miller says the website includes tips on how to develop a family emergency plan and an emergency communications plan as well as what should be included in an emergency survival kit. Governor Tom Vilsack says Hurricane Katrina ironically occurred right before National Preparedness Week. “We didn’t realize at the time we established the time for this press conference on National Preparedness Week that it would be in the context of an extraordinary event in our country, but it does underscore the necessity for individuals and families to be prepared,” Vilsack says. “We want to provide Iowa families and Iowa individuals with a series of tools and techniques and opportunities to be better prepared.”
Iowa fire fighters are also encouraging Iowans to carry an “ICE” card. ICE stands for “In Case of Emergency” and the card should include the name of a person who can be contacted if you’re hurt or killed. David Floyd, president of the Waterloo Fire Fighters Association, says fire fighters across the state and nation are joining the effort. “The idea for ICE was conceived shortly after the London subway bombings by a paramedic,” Floyd says. “This program is being adopted nationwide as a way to reach the next of kin, to obtain vital information about patients who are unable to provide it themselves, or to reach the parents or guardians for permission to treat minors who are injured.” Floyd is urging Iowans to carry a card with the word ICE on it, and the name of your next of kin or someone who can tell first responders, like fire fighters, if you have allergies or a health condition.
In addition, Floyd says cell phones allow you to put the word “ICE” beside a name on the contact list on your phone. First responders can then check your cell phone and call that person. Floyd says it’s also a good idea to list more than one contact person just in case the first person on the list can’t be reached.