Today’s Tip: Be ready for emergencies or disasters
September is National Preparedness Month and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security urge you to take a few minutes to think about what you would need in an emergency. Whether the emergency is a prolonged power outage due to a snowstorm, a gas main explosion or some other natural or man-made disaster, being prepared can help you and your family remain safe.
These agencies recommend everyone take these three steps:
1. Create an emergency supply kit,
2. Make a family emergency plan, and
3. Learn about weather emergencies that could occur in your area.
Create an emergency supply kit
Ready America encourages everyone to have enough basic supplies on hand to survive for at least three days during an emergency. Here are their suggestions for the items every household should have on hand:
- Water (one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days)
- Non-perishable food (at least a three-day supply)
- Radio (battery-powered or hand crank)
- NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Personal care items (toilet paper, moist towelettes, soap, towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) as well as garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener (if kit contains canned food)
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Cell phone with chargers
- List of key phone numbers (insurance agent, doctor, etc.)
- Copies of important family documents (insurance policies, identification and bank account records) in a waterproof, portable container. Create an inventory of your personal possessions for insurance purposes.
- Sleeping bag or warm bedding for each person in the household.
- Complete change of clothing suitable for the season
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Cards, games, books or other items to help you pass the time
- Depending on your household, you may also wish to add prescription medications, infant formula and diapers, and/or pet food and extra water
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. (When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color-safe bleach or bleaches with added cleaners.)
Make a family emergency plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so take some time to talk about how you will contact one another and how you will get back together. Here are some things to consider:
- Identify an out-of town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number of someone to call in the event of an emergency. If you have a cell phone, program that person as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings to reach someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
- Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
- Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc.
Learn about emergencies
Learn about the potential emergencies that could impact you. For more information about emergency preparedness steps, visit the Ready Campaign website at www.ready.gov.
Published Sep. 26, 2012