Sunday, January 10, 2010

Be Prepared!

Depending on the disaster, you might have to stay inside your house, or evacuate your home. Either way, it’s important to have an emergency plan. Learn the best way to protect yourself and your family. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to be prepared. Depending on the disaster, you might have to stay inside your house, or evacuate your home. It’s important to have an evacuation plan, but emergency preparedness is so much more. Use the steps below to make sure you’re prepared for emergencies.

Make Your Emergency Plan: The first part of being prepared is to make an emergency plan. You should make a plan for the places were you spend a lot of time, like home, work or school. Remember that your personal situation is very important. Make sure you plan for your individual needs if you have a specific disability.

Write a Contact List: Another part of creating an emergency plan is writing a contact list. That way, you know who to contact in case of emergency.

Practice Your Plan: Finally, make sure you practice your plan.

Prepare Your Home: Do you live near the ocean? In an earthquake zone? Maybe you live in a place where tornadoes often hit. No matter where you live, there are steps you can take to prepare your home. No matter what the disaster, there are many steps you can take to make your home safe:
  1. Put up Emergency Contact Info
  2. Install Alarms and Detectors
  3. Check for Fire Safety
  4. Eliminate Hazards
  5. Prepare your windows and doors
  6. Get Insurance
Have Emergency Supplies at Home: Your home should be stocked with certain supplies at all times. Keep them in a separate place from your other household goods or food in an easy-to-reach container. Make sure everyone in your family knows these items are for emergencies only:
  • Water
  • Food
  • First-aid kit
  • Personal items
  • Clothing/warmth
  • Communication
  • Disinfectants
  • Child care supplies
  • Disability related supplies
  • Other ....
Water: You should have one gallon of water per person, per day. You can buy water by the gallon at the grocery store, or store clean, filtered water in old soft drink bottles or other clean plastic containers. It is very dangerous to drink unclean water. To make sure you stay safe, you can add four drops of bleach per quart of water. Or, if you’re really not sure, boil water for at least one minute before drinking.

Food: Keep a lot of canned food at your house. It’s a good idea to have other non-perishables, or food that won’t go bad without refrigeration. You can get canned meals that need little or no preparation. Box or can juices are a good way to stay hydrated, as are powdered drinks like Tang or Gatorade. You might also want to buy packaged snacks like granola or energy bars. Try these:
  • Beans
  • Canned fish or meat
  • Canned vegetables or fruit
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Pasta
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Soup
  • Spices, salt and pepper
  • Don’t forget to keep paper plates, cups and plastic utensils. You’ll probably need a can opener (non-electric) to open your canned food. Plastic garbage bags and antibacterial wipes are useful for staying clean, especially if you don’t have access to water.
First-aid kit: You can buy a pre-made kit at the drugstore, or create your own. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • antibacterial wipes
  • antibiotic ointment
  • aspirin
  • band-aids
  • cloth bandages and cloth tape
  • cold compress
  • gauze pads
  • rubber gloves (non-latex are best)
  • scissors
Personal items: What items do you need to get ready every day? Think through your usual morning and pack accordingly. Have a toothbrush (non-electric), toothpaste, soap, brush/comb, contact lens solution and any feminine hygiene items like tampons. If you have an extra pair of glasses, keep them with these other items. Keep a supply of non-prescription medications, like painkillers (aspirin) and antacids for your stomach. If you have any prescriptions, keep a supply of at least three days. Keep all medicines in a cool, dry place.

Clothing/Warmth: Make sure you have enough blankets to stay warm. You can use a sleeping bag too. You might want to consider a mylar blanket (also called a space blanket), a lightweight material that reflects your body heat to keep you warm. Mylar blankets fold smaller than a pack of cigarettes. They cost just a few dollars, so stash a few in your backpack. Also keep a full change of clothes (including shoes, socks, pants, long-sleeved shirt and underwear). If you live in cold weather, you might want to add a few more items of clothing to stay warm.

Communication: How will you get in touch if you lose electricity and are stuck at home? The typical home phone won’t work, so think about alternatives. A cell phone is very good thing to have. For outside communication, a battery-powered radio will get you all the news you need. Since information changes quickly during disaster times, a radio is the best way to stay informed. You may also need to communicate within your house, or find someone who is trapped. Keep a few whistles in different rooms so people can make noise if they are stuck somewhere. You can also use walkie talkies to stay in touch for short distances. Make sure you keep extra batteries.

Disinfectants: Staying clean is an important part of disaster preparedness. Keep certain supplies on deck, such as bleach, soap, dish detergent, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels. Plastic buckets and garbage bags will also come in handy.

Child Care Supplies: Make sure your children have everything they’ll need. If you have a baby, stock up on diapers, wipes and special foods. Keep a supply of medications for children, including child aspirin, cold medicine and anything else your child might need. Don’t forget entertainment, like books, games or cards, so your children will have something fun and distracting.

Disability Related Supplies: Make sure you have everything you need to care for yourself and to be as functional as possible in an emergency.

Other: Keep a flashlight with extra batteries. You should never use candles or any other kind of unprotected fire during a power outage, since any gas leaks or problems could cause a fire.

Prepare a "Go Bag": What is a “go bag”? A “go bag” is slightly different than the emergency supplies you keep at home. You’ll use it if you need to leave your home. These items need to be in a portable bag (like a backpack or other easy-to-carry container with handles) and ready to move with you, in case of evacuation. If you have many people in your family, it’s a good idea to have more than one backpack. That way, you can divide up the supplies. You want to make sure the bags are easy to carry and don’t get in the way of evacuation.

Important Documents: If there’s a big disaster, these documents could be the only records your family has. So don’t forget the big stuff! Keep everything in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container, like a light plastic box or sealed folder:
  • Emergency contact info
  • Important phone numbers (doctor, dentist, family, friends)
  • Personal identification cards (license, passport, social security cards)
  • Medical records (prescriptions, allergy info, immunizations, etc.)
  • Insurance, wills, contracts, and other legal documents
  • Bank/financial information (account numbers, credit card info, stocks, bonds, etc.)
  • List of valuable assets (jewelry, appliances, technology, etc.)
Survival Items:Many of the supplies in your go bag will be similar to your home emergency supplies. The difference is that these supplies need to be ready to move. Don’t weigh yourself down, but pack enough supplies for a day or so:
  • Food
  • Water
  • Money/Cards (credit or debit cards)
  • First aid kit
  • Medication
  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Extra keys (to your house and car)
  • Clothing (especially waterproof jackets and sturdy shoes)
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Child care supplies
  • Tools (waterproof matches, duct tape, scissors, flares, pen, notepad, garbage bags, bleach)
Your “go bag” should have something for everyone.

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