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What does it mean to be prepared? I recently attended a presentation on disaster preparedness sponsored by our local FEMA agency, learning there what I need to do for my household. The FEMA agent explained that their role in an emergency is to coordinate emergency response for larger scale disasters, but they are counting on individuals and families to be prepared ahead of time with enough food, water and supplies to last three days. Listed below are their recommendations.

Make a plan. There are many resources available online to help families make a communications plan and their own plan to survive a disaster. Operation Hope has made available a Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide to help families prepare. http://www.operationhope.org/images/uploads/Files/pdpg.pdf

Stay informed. Use your cell phone’s text messaging capability to receive text message updates from FEMA (standard message and data rates apply).

Here are basic commands to get started:

  • To sign up to receive monthly preparedness tips: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA)
  • To unsubscribe (at any time): text STOP to 43362 (4FEMA)

Get a kit. Households should be stocked with enough food, water and supplies to support physical needs for at least three days following a disaster or storm. Depending on how severe the disaster is, you may need to be on your own longer. Rescue workers come to the scene quickly, but cannot reach everyone right away. Here’s what you’re going to need:

The Basic Supply Kit (from Ready.gov)

The list below is a basic list and may need to be adapted to suit your household. Think about the type of container you keep these supplies in if you need to evacuate your home. When preparing for a possible emergency situation, think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. In addition, basic services and utilities (electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones) may be shut off for several days or longer.

supply kitAccording to Ready.gov, a basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. If you can figure out how to drain your hot water tank into clean containers, you have a nice supply of fresh drinking water.
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

According to ready.gov, you may consider adding some of these items to your kit:

  • Prescription medications, hearing aid batteries and extra eye glasses. If you are responsible for providing care for someone who is disabled, review the medical supply checklist.
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • 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, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

For more information, see Ready.gov, Be Red Cross Ready or the Extension Disaster Education Network Family Preparedness course.

Wouldn’t it lend a little peace of mind having such a kit prepared? I’m going to get my kit completed before summer. We can help our community weather a storm or disaster much more successfully if every household is prepared.

Sources:

Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. www.ready.gov

Disaster Preparedness: Evacuating and Sheltering, Extension.org; http://www.extension.org/pages/9386/disaster-preparedness:-evacuating-and-sheltering#.U3pOlijyS-4

 

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

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