The Carbon County Citizen Corps Council and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) wants people to be prepared during emergency situations.

That's why, today, tomorrow and Sunday, the group will have a free informational booth set up at the Palmerton Community Festival to provide people with information and checklists on what they should know in case of an emergency. They will also give away one emergency supply kit on Sunday evening.

Megan Fredericks, administrative assistant at the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, explained the activity is being held this month because September has been named National Preparedness Month by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"We want to make the public aware that they should be prepared," said Tony Walck, Nesquehoning mayor and officer of Citizen Corps.

He noted that CERT classes, which are being offered in September and November at the Emergency Management Agency in Nesquehoning, help area residents by preparing them for emergency situations. The classes include basic first aid, fire suppression, and search and rescue skills. Walck recommended that anyone interested in becoming a CERT member visit the booth at the festival or call the EMA.

He then spoke about the importance of an emergency kit.

"A lot of people are not aware of the items they should have on-hand in the case of an emergency," Walck said. "If they need to leave their home, having a 72-hour kit made up of survival necessities would be beneficial to them and their family."

Fredericks added that a person's emergency kit should be tailored to their lifestyle and family size.

Inside the kit, items should include medical records and contact lists, but after that, it can be filled with anything.

The kit Citizen Corps will be giving away to one person includes items such as a 12-pack of bottled water; drink mix packets; beef jerky; fruit snacks; granola bars; instant pudding; can opener; canned goods; disposable utensils, plates and cups; paper towels; flashlights with batteries; dust masks; duct tape; emergency blanket; garbage bags; tarp; stationary; crayons; playing cards; activity books; notebooks; address book; first aid kit; hand sanitizer; ponchos; whistle; fire extinguisher; lighter; personal hygiene products; Tylenol; smoke detector; and more.

Fredericks urged families with children to remember to pack items to keep the kids occupied; and if they have pets to create an emergency pet kit as well. Checklists for creating an emergency kit are available at www.ready.gov [1] and www.readyPA.org [2].

Also in attendance at the festival will be members of the Carbon County Animal Response Team (CART), who will be located with the CERT team.

Walck said the two groups go hand-in-hand.

From past experiences, he learned that many people will not leave their home in an emergency if they can't take their animals. These two teams help to alleviate that issue.

The CART team is always looking for volunteers, the next meeting of the group will be Sept. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Carbon County EMA building. Joel Hersh of PASART, the state Animal Response Team, will be on hand to talk to the group.

This is the fourth year the Carbon County Citizen Corps and CERT team has given away an emergency supply kit at the Palmerton Community Festival. The idea first arose after Fredericks visited the Ready.gov website.

In related matters, Mark Nalesnik, coordinator of the Carbon County EMA, urged residents to learn what needs to be done in the case of an emergency and announced that there are still openings for the upcoming CERT classes. Dates for the classes are Sept. 14, 20, and 27; and Nov. 1, 8, and 15. To sign up, call the EMA at (570) 325-3097.

The Carbon County EMA and 911 Communications Center will also hold an open house on Sept. 23, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Nalesnik said this will give the public the opportunity to see what is done at the center.