BRANDON – President Barack Obama has proclaimed September 2013 National Preparedness Month, with the theme “You Can Be the Hero.”
“It is every American’s responsibility to be prepared,” said his official statement. “Despite the brave actions of first responders across America, neighbors and friends are often the first on the scene after an emergency, and circumstances can call anyone to become a hero.”
In the greater Brandon area, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes and rising waters are recurring natural disasters for which residents should prepare. Other crises, such as vehicle accidents and other people-caused calamities, also may test people’s readiness.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency gives suggestions for making disaster plans and kits online: in English at www.ready.gov and in Spanish at www.listo.gov.
Local help will be available to the public for free Sept. 14 when the civilian Bloomingdale-Riverview CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) will host a preparedness training session from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 3315 Bryan Road, Brandon.
“We’ll teach people what they need and don’t need to have in their emergency-supply backpacks,” said Don Maidlow, Bloomingdale-Riverview CERT coordinator.
This also will be an opportunity for people to learn more about CERT. Free basic CERT training courses help themselves, their families, neighborhoods, schools or businesses during a catastrophe.
Cate Hammer, new president of Greater Tampa CERT, will help Maidlow lead the training.
She also will host a free Situational Safety training seminar Sept. 12 at Tampa Fire Rescue Training Center, 116 S. 34th St., Tampa.
“This will teach people how to look at a scene and make sure you’re not putting yourself in danger,” said Hammer.
Hammer recently saw a tractor-trailer turn over on the interstate.
“People stopped their cars and ran across the interstate, which was very dangerous, to try to help,” she said. “What was in the tanker? It could have been ammonia, a cloud of which kills almost instantly. We want to train people so they don’t do rash things like that.”
People will be taught how to assess if it is safe to approach and assist or not and to make helpful calls to 911, informing first responders what dangers they can expect to meet at the scene.
Training encourages people to become part of the solution, rather than another casualty of the disaster.
Other disaster-preparedness tips, including Preparedness on a Budget, can be found at http://is.gd/x6eobG.
Send news of community interest to Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.