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December 14, 2012

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Keith Bettinger Musings of a Retired Cop
with Keith Bettinger

In 2012, we learned about true disaster preparedness

How can you take care of others and manage to protect yourself from the dangers created by the storm if you’re worrying about your family?

Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast with a vengeance. There were probably many people who didn’t think the storm would be so devastating. We as first responders — whether police officers, reserves, firefighters (both professional and volunteer) doctors, nurses, EMTs, and the gas and electric company employees — have to be ready to respond to the crises when called.

But what about the family and possessions of the first responders? Who takes care of them?

Is there enough time to evacuate them, get them to safety and still be available to report for duty?

Your To Do’s
First of all warnings of impending danger should be heeded. If in an area with flood warnings, get your possessions to the higher floors in the house. Pack your family papers in waterproof bags and take them with you when you leave. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas to help with your evacuation.

Pack a “get out of Dodge” bag with some clothes and hygiene essentials that you can grab in a hurry when you evacuate.

If you are not evacuating because you are not in the direct path of the storm or you are not in a flood area, make sure you have batteries, a portable radio (those new survival ones with the crank handle would really fit the bill).

Stock up on flashlights, candles, ice and drinking water. On Long Island — my old home — people there had water problems with sewer backups mixing into the drinking water. You can fill your bathtubs with water just in case your water supply is compromised.

Do you have a way to cook meals? Do you have an old style coffee pot? You certainly won’t be able to use your ‘Mr. Coffee’ without electricity. You will probably be drinking black instant coffee for a while.

Do you have one of those old cheap telephones you can pick up at the store for about five dollars? You’re going to want one when the electricity goes out and your telephone that has all the bells and whistles doesn’t work anymore.

What are you going to do with your pets? Make sure you have food for them and, as the storm approaches, keep them either on a leash or in a pet carrier. That way if you have to evacuate quickly you have control of them.

As first responders, you can’t afford to not evacuate your family from areas that the storm is supposed to hit. How can you take care of others and manage to protect yourself from the dangers created by the storm if you’re worrying about your family members?

Take your family to the homes of other family members in safer areas or take them to evacuation shelters set up by government agencies and other community organizations.

You need to know they are safe or at least as safe as possible while the storm strikes and you are working. It would be great to work with others in your neighborhood to make sure everyone has been evacuated. First responders should not be forced to try and rescue those that did not heed early warnings to leave.

Be Prepared in 2013
If Superstorm Sandy has taught us one thing, it is to not be complacent. We can no longer remain unprepared for extreme weather conditions or other disasters. When you have the time, inventory your property and store copies of the list in a number of safe places. Have a supply of water, canned goods, and maybe even some ‘Meals Ready to Eat’ stored at home.

Be prepared and stay safe. 

About the author

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County (N.Y.) Police Officer. He’s been writing for law enforcement publications for more than 25 years and has received 18 awards for his articles, stories, poems, and books. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. During his career he received the department’s Bravery Medal, Silver Shield Award, Meritorious Police Service Award, Special Service Award, Professionalization Award, Department Recognition Award, five Headquarters commendations and six Precinct commendations. He also was a field training officer and an instructor on Post Shooting Trauma and Critical Incidents.

Keith has written two books, Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny, and End of Watch. He has also contributed stories to the following anthologies: Cop Tales 2000, Charity, True Blue, To Protect and Serve, and Dad’s Bow Tie. He also shares with Jack Miller, the screenplay Master Cheat. Keith lives in Las Vegas with his wife Lynn.

Contact Keith Bettinger





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