By Tony Buthman
Washington County Emergency Management

Greetings. Preparedness is something that is everyone’s responsibility. In an Emergency it’s very important that we know how to react. Our reaction is based on what preparedness level we have established. Given that many are not in a position to respond to an Emergency with unlimited resources, most do have the opportunity to have the basic resources needed to weather such an event.
This article is not to scare or bewilder, its intent is help prepare for Emergencies. Emergency planning has many steps beginning with knowledge. Research regarding steps to take is hugely beneficial. There are many publications that can help, along with internet resources, active classes and discussions. Topics can vary all the way from how to extinguish a grease fire on a stove top to a full evacuation of your residence or worst case scenario evacuate your entire community. Always remember to follow the instructions of first responders, they are trained and doing this for you.
The next step is to start planning once you have established a knowledge base. This will save you a lot of time and keep you from spending unneeded resources on items that will have little or no benefit to you. There is a basic rule of survival that everyone should know and understand. This is for all persons young and old, don’t forget to include children in this process.  
Under Extreme Conditions refer to basic rule of three’s
3 minutes without AIR
3 hours without SHELTER    (both hot and cold extremes)
3 days without WATER
3 weeks without FOOD
Once you establish priorities it will guide you towards which stockpiles of materials that best suit your level of preparedness, as you see by the rules the first 2 items can be addressed quickly. The first is AIR, is very self-explanatory, you need to be able to breathe, being ready for this is as simple as putting a cloth or mask on to reduce particulates, all the way up to full evacuation. SHELTER is very broad based depending on the Emergency, this can be anything from having the correct clothing on to a bunker in the ground, with some of these situations we need to react accordingly.
The 3rd item is WATER. This is one that can be addressed in many ways, however you can see that it has time frames that are very restricted. Just for your information the average adult male body consists of 60% water, while a female consists of 55% water, infants up to a year old consists of 75-78% water and children consist of 65% water. These numbers show how important WATER is in our survival. Having clean drinkable water should be one of our highest priorities. In future articles there will be discussions on ways of obtaining water and making it safe to drink.
The 4th item is FOOD. As you can see food is important but there are many other items that need to be addressed before this one becomes a priority. Food for the most part is for comfort in the short term, however it becomes very important for long term survival and should be planned for accordingly.
Hopefully this is an overview of how we can start preparing in the event when we are called on to do so. Shortly there will be specific articles with more details explaining ways to be prepared.
Final caption to remember, it is our own responsibility to be prepared. Help is on the way, but we need to be able take care of ourselves until help gets there!