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Don't flirt with disaster: Get emergency kit ready
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When disaster strikes, will you be ready?

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and Hall County Emergency Management Agency is urging all residents to keep a disaster kit current at all times, just in case.

A basic disaster kit can let you survive 72 hours without help, said Emergency Management Coordinator William Wright.

"FEMA will tell us, y’all take care of yourselves for up to 72 hours before you expect us to be there," Wright said. "Our goal is to educate as many people as possible on taking care of themselves in an emergency situation."

The list of supplies Hall County is encouraging residents to keep is appropriate for a variety of emergency situations.

Recommended items include water, food, batteries, a weather radio, flashlight, first-aid kit and garbage bags.

"We take what we call an all-hazards approach," Wright said, pointing out that the kit would be able to sustain a family at home in any situation from an ice storm to a terrorist attack.

And though people typically associate disaster kits with rough winter weather, Wright said the recent tornadoes prove that bad weather can happen anytime.

"We could have a tornado in the summer time and have the power out for three days, so people still need flashlights, batteries and those types of things," Wright said.

And when preparing for a disaster, don’t forget pets.

Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin reminds people to prepare supplies and identification to keep pets safe.

Many places have relaxed rules in recent years to allow pets indoors during emergency situations.

"We’ve worked hard to get that reversed where most shelters will allow you to bring animals along with you. And if you have to leave them, make sure you leave them in a safe place," Irvin said.

When packing a pet disaster kit, include records of vaccinations, identification tags or documents, food, blankets and a leash or harness, Irvin said.

"You want to make sure you have a rabies shot along with other shots," Irvin said, because some kennels may require vaccination records to board an animal.

Irvin said pets can help keep people calm during emergency situations.

"Animals are easy to train to be great companions ... during a time of stress, a time of need," he said.

Wright said not only is it important to make disaster kits, but to keep them current. He recommends checking expiration dates on food, water, medication and other items once a year.

Hall County’s Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, is a group of volunteers who undergo training in basic disaster response skills to help others in emergency situations. CERT members will be at Home Depot on Dawsonville Highway on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to hand out brochures and demonstrate how to make a disaster kit.

"No matter if it’s a natural or a man-made emergency or disaster, the citizens, if they’re prepared, they’re prepared," Wright said.