Readiness difference between life and death in disaster

May 9, 2014 Latest Print Print

Preparedness in the event of a disaster can make the difference between life and death, said Jackie Wright, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management state training officer.

Wright spoke before a crowd at a seminar on campus recently.

“First responders are dwindling,” he said. “It is your responsibility to be as prepared.”

Wright highlighted three important actions to take after a disaster: Reach a safe place, figure out how to get together with loved ones after the event and have an outside point of contact for communication purposes.

“Cell towers are often the first thing to go down,” Wright said. “Text messages will work sometimes because they work on a different frequency. You should be able to contact someone outside of the area.”

Wright cautioned that help may be some time in coming.

“If you live in an area where debris can block responders from getting to you, it could take them up to 72 hours to reach you,” he said.

According to Oklahoma Emergency Management, one should have at least 72 hours of food and water for every person in a shelter as well as a readiness kit.

Those items include distilled water jugs, or bottled water from the store, canned and nonperishable foods like energy bars, dried fruits and foods high in protein.

Wright noted it is important to have drinkable water.

“Staying hydrated is absolutely the most essential key to your survival,” he said. “A lot of times the tendency might be to ration your water, or attempt to purify other water sources to drink first instead of your already clean supply. Drink your readied supply first and your unclean supply as a last resort.”

Other supplies needed for survival include a complete first-aid kit, wet wipes, an updated extra supply of prescribed medicine, dust masks, plastic sheeting and an emergency radio with extra batteries.

He also suggested having board games or other forms of entertainment to maintain morale during a period of waiting.

Wright also spoke on the importance of knowing where a safe shelter might be if you are away from home, either at the office, the store, school, or church.

“Don’t be afraid to ask the manager or owner … what their plan is in the event of an emergency,” Wright said.

Marlene Shugart, Emergency Planning director at OCCC, talked about the college’s plans.

“The college is not a public shelter,” Shugart said. “That being said, we will not lock anyone out, but officially, we are not a shelter.”

“During last year’s storms, we had people seek shelter here and it was very hard on our staff in efforts to accommodate these people,” she said. “It was extremely stressful for those who made efforts to reunite families here at the college.”

For more information, contact Wright at 405-521-3040 or at Shugart can be reached at

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