Preparing for Disaster: Are You Ready?
September is National Preparedness month and government and local entities want to know if you are prepared for an emergency. Do you have an emergency plan? How about a emergency kit (and we aren’t just talking a First Aid kit)? Many Americans still lack having an emergency kit and plan.
Making a Plan
When planning for disasters in your area, what comes to mind? Fire, earthquake, flood, power outages? Knowing the common types of natural disasters in your area will help you in making a plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sister site, Ready.gov has a Family Emergency Plan that you can print, fill out, and distribute copies to family members. The Family Emergency Plan is a place to record all important information about your family. For example: birth dates, prescription medications, doctors, addresses, and contact information. Remember, when a disaster occurs your family may not be together. If you have children, it is important to check with your child’s school about their emergency plan. Check with your place of employment for their disaster plan in case you are at work when the disaster occurs.
Building a Kit
Having an emergency kit will provide you and your family with the essential supplies during an emergency. During a disaster you may be without water and/or food. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that you have enough supplies to last you and your family at least three days. The American Red Cross recommends that you have enough food and water to last two weeks. More is better in this case, but having enough for three days is a great start. This kit contains food, water, and supplies that you will need as well as items that are specific to your family’s needs.
It is important to store water in the proper containers. Photo by Myke2020
Water: When a disaster occurs your water supply may be contaminated or you may not have access to water. You will need one gallon, per person, per day. So for a family of five, you would need 15 gallons of water, which would last three days. This includes drinking and sanitation uses. It is important to store water in proper containers and not use empty milk cartons or empty soda bottles. Purchasing water by the gallon is the safest way to store water.
Food: You will need enough non-perishable food items to last each person three days to two weeks. The amount of food will depend on how much each person consumes. To determine what foods you need, think about your basic food groups; fruits, vegetables, protein sources, and grains. Foods that are canned and dried will keep the longest. Pre-packaged foods like crackers will also keep.
Supplies: You will need to have a first-aid kit, a multi-purpose tool, radio (either battery or hand-crank), extra batteries, cell phone charger, a seven day supply of any medicine that you take, flashlight, whistle, duct tape, plastic sheeting, manual can opener, blankets, sleeping bags, paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, re-sealable plastic bags, and local maps – at the very least. Other items in your kit will depend on your family’s unique needs. If you have a baby you will need to include formula, diapers, bottles, etc. Storing coloring books, board games, stuffed animals, and other comfort items for young children will help them cope with the disaster. If you have pets, having extra food, water, and veterinarian records is important.
The MRC recruits people with medical or health backgrounds to assist during an emergency. Photo by MRC.
Many local organizations will be hosting emergency preparedness events throughout September. For disaster preparedness events in your area contact your local American Red Cross and Public Health Department; they are just some of the organizations that may be hosting disaster preparedness events in your area.
If you would be interested in helping out your community during a disaster, the Citizen Corps is a nation-wide organization. The Citizen Corps was founded as a result of the September 11th terrorism attacks. The Citizen Corps mission is to; “harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and disasters of all kinds.”
An extension of the Citizen Crops is the Medical Reserve Corps. If you have a medical background and would be interested in volunteering during an emergency, contact the Medical Reserve Corps. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) enlists volunteers who assist their local community’s health needs during a disaster.
Why Should I be Prepared?
When a disaster occurs, it is uncertain how long it would take emergency personnel to get to you and your family. If it a large scale disaster, it could be days before someone is able to get to you. For example, on January 26, 2009, Kentucky experienced a winter ice storm that weighted down power lines until they snapped. According to FEMA, over 600,000 Kentuckians went without power for up to ten days. Would you have the supplies to go ten days without power in the winter? This is just one example of how important it is to have a plan, and have a kit.
Always Be Prepared
Preparing for a disaster can seem like a daunting task, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people who are prepared deal with disasters more effectively. Being prepared also help reduce fear and anxiety when a disaster occurs.
This article first appeared at decodedscience