First responders offer advice for National Preparedness Month

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 3, 2020

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EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — September is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Preparedness Month. Local first responders want to get the word out about how residents can better keep themselves and their families safe in the event of an emergency.

Eastpointe Director of Public Safety George Rouhib said most emergencies that people in southeast Michigan have to worry about are weather related, but that COVID-19 also adds risk factors that people should prepare for.

“Typically in this region, the citizens of Eastpointe should be concerned about heavy winds and rain due to thunderstorms, power outages, flooding, tornados, sewer backups, snowstorms, and now COVID-19,” he wrote in an email. “Recently, in Michigan we had a small earthquake. Citizens need to constantly monitor a weather station or a weather app so they can prepare for potential damage or disaster. Never assume; always keep your guard up.”

Roseville Fire Chief Brian Kanigowski added that having a month to encourage people to prepare for the worst is highly beneficial, saying that it’s good for families to take stock of what they need to do should the worst happen.

“An emergency plan promotes safety awareness,” he said in an email. “Since emergencies will occur, preplanning is necessary. The urgent need for rapid decisions within a small amount of time can be a crucial component of saving the lives of you and your loved ones.”

Rouhib said that having the right equipment or taking the right precautions can make all the difference.

“For example, purchase a generator in the event of a power outage along with ample fuel to operate the generator,” he said. “Have vital phone numbers readily available such as DTE or Consumers (Energy). Take photos of your home before and after so they can be forwarded to your insurance carrier. Make certain that you have adequate insurance on your home, vehicles and other property.”

He went on to say that preparing and maintaining disaster preparedness measures is also important.

“You should have a good supply of canned foods and water in the event food supplies shrink,” Rouhib added. “If you have a sump pump in your basement, make certain that it is in good working order. To be safe, purchase an extra pump.

“In the event of flooding, move all of your valuables off of your basement floor in the event your sewer backs up. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. You can also purchase a charger that works with batteries. Make sure you have surge protectors on your audio equipment. Lightning can destroy equipment. Turn off your air conditioner because your compressor may also be damaged. Purchase a few extra coolers and have bags of ice on hand in the event you lose your power and your refrigerator does not function. If you keep your refrigerator door closed, it will keep your perishable goods cool for several hours.”

“For floods, know your insurance coverage, policy numbers, agent information, etc. and protect the valuables in your basement,” Kanigowski wrote. “For extreme heat or cold, prepare a backup plan that should include: alternative places to shelter, where warming and cooling shelters are located and always have a secondary food and water source available.

“For fires, prepare for a fire by having functioning smoke detectors with fresh batteries, have a home evacuation plan, have a safe meeting spot outside and have accessible fire extinguisher(s) that everybody knows about.

“For thunderstorms and lightning, prepare for that power outage by having an alternative place to stay, enough food and water for a few days and always verify that your insurance covers lightning and storm damage.”

Rouhib said that while COVID-19 adds a new area of consideration for how to react to emergencies, the best advice people can take is to continue to follow the same guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been suggesting for the last several months and to have plenty of the relevant safety materials on hand in case people cannot purchase more.

“Follow all CDC guidelines,” Rouhib wrote. “If you wear a mask in public, sanitize, maintain social distancing, avoid crowds and stay at home when possible, you will be in good shape. Always have extra masks and sanitizer on hand. If any member of your family has reason to believe that they may have been exposed, take the necessary quarantine precautions. If you can get tested, get tested.”

Kanigowski also said that people should be aware that just because COVID-19 is still a threat does not mean people shouldn’t take their usual steps to avoid the flu as well.

“Roseville and most of southeast Michigan have been hit extremely hard with the coronavirus pandemic, and we are not out of the woods yet,” he wrote. “The Roseville community should prepare for the upcoming flu season during the unprecedented pandemic by continuing to be vigilant.”

In the event of a disaster, Rouhib said, the Red Cross and Salvation Army are great resources.

“The Red Cross and Salvation Army are always willing to assist,” he wrote. “Contact your local police and fire agencies. Macomb County also has a number of phone numbers to different agencies that will assist during emergencies.”

The Red Cross can be contacted by calling (800) REDCROSS. The Eastpointe Police Department can be reached at (586) 445-5100. The Roseville Police Department can be reached at (586) 447-4475.