Police encourage taking proactive safety measuresPublished 9:01am Thursday, June 19, 2014
This week’s Do 1 Thing tip discusses what to do if you or someone in your household has a disability and how to create an evacuation plan that works for them.
People with disabilities are more affected by disaster than others in the community. Accessible services might not be available. Hazards like wildfire, floods, and hurricanes can lead to evacuations. If you have a disability and you live in an area where these things can happen, make sure you have an evacuation plan:
• Make sure you are signed up for any emergency notification systems your community offers. Some notification systems will only call landline phones. If you use a cell phone, you may have to sign up separately.
• Paratransit services may not be available once a disaster happens. Talk to your paratransit provider now to find out what services they can provide when evacuation is ordered.
• If paratransit services are not available, arrange for someone else to pick you up if an evacuation is ordered. Make sure they will come for you unless you tell them not to. That way there will not be any confusion when the time comes. If you can’t evacuate, call 911 to let them know your location.
• Talk to your local Red Cross chapter or other organizations who provide emergency sheltering in your community. Make sure that your needs can be met in an emergency shelter. Think about accessible entrances and bathrooms. What methods of communicating with shelter staff, medical services or assistive devices will you need? If you have a service animal, talk to them about what they can provide for the animal. Find out what you need to bring with you. Make sure you have batteries or a charger for any assistive devices in your emergency kit. Also, don’t forget the wheelchairs or oxygen tanks.
Any unique needs need to be considered for your plan. If you and yours don’t have this worry, then expand and check with neighbors, friends or other family members for these needs.
A theme I would like to discuss this week concerns gun safety.
Since 2001, when Michigan became a “shall issue” state for concealed pistol licenses, there have been over 300,000 gun permits issued. If we add those numbers to the amount of people who open carry firearms, that puts a lot of guns in public.
Although it is a citizen’s right to “open carry,” we do not advocate this. There are many people in the public who may not know anything about gun laws, which may cause panic. I have spoken with open carry advocates who feel the public should be informed, which is what we are trying to do, but we are not there yet.
Gun safety is an individual responsibility. I ask you if you are doing your part? Are you following the laws concerning your carrying of the gun? How about at your residence? What kind of gun storage do you have? If you have children and/or grandchildren, have you considered this?
The gun may be used for home defense and left out for quick, easy access, but what if you leave the room or residence with the young ones in the home? Proper gun storage and education can keep homes safe.
Each age group in our T.E.A.M. curriculum has a gun safety lesson. Because of the amount of guns in homes, we are stressing to the young children that guns can be dangerous in the wrong hands. We are not saying guns are evil or anyone who carries is evil, but that they can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
These “wrong hands” are not just the young people, but anyone who does not have safe gun handling skills or uses them for illegal intent.
Everyone needs to do their part for gun safety. Keeping the gun in proper storage, pointing the gun in a safe direction and knowing what’s beyond the target are just a few tips. More tips and education can be received by contacting local conservation clubs or NRA instructors for gun classes or hunter safety classes. Take advantage of this education to keep yourself and others safe around firearms.
Rob Herbstreith is a Michigan State Police trooper. Questions or comments can be emailed to TrooperRob53@yahoo.com