Disaster Preparedness Brings Peace of Mind

Monday, January 31, 2011


As the New Year begins, the Red Cross is encouraging families to be prepared. Knowing what emergencies are most likely for the areas where they live, work, learn and play, and taking steps to plan for them will bring families a measure of peace. Emergencies to think about can include wildfire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake or floods, but families should also plan for unusually heavy snowfall and ice storms that can cause power outages and disrupt utilities and other services.

  • Grab-and-Go: These are kits or bags that contain essential and useful items in case you are forced to leave your home or shelter in place. Check out www.redcross.org for a list of items that go into an emergency preparedness kit and to watch a really cool video about being prepared.
  • Gathering the following items can bring you some peace of mind now: Three-day supply of nonperishable food and water—one gallon per person per day for drinking and hygiene purposes; battery-powered or hand-crank radio, preferably NOAA weather radio; flashlight and extra batteries; first-aid kit, medications and medical items; extra cash; and copies of important documents such as proof of address, deed or lease to home, passports, birth certificates and insurance policies.
  • Plan. Plan. Plan. Talk with family and household members about what they should do during a flood, earthquake, wildfire, snow storm or ice storm. Plan what to do if members are separated and choose two places to meet— one outside the home and another outside the neighborhood in case of evacuation.
  • Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. All household members should have this person’s phone number and email address. It may be easier to call long distance or text if local phone lines are out of service.
  • Tell everyone in the household where emergency information and supplies are kept.
  • Practice evacuating the home twice a year. Drive the planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are impassable.
  • Plan ahead for pets. In case of evacuation, make arrangements for animals. Keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels or hotels, animal shelters and fair grounds that are along the evacuation routes.
  • Be informed. Know the risks in neighborhoods where family members live, work, learn and play.
  • Assemble information about what to do in case a flood, earthquake or wildfire occurs. Remember that emergencies like fires and blackouts can happen anywhere, so everyone should be prepared for them.
  • Find out how to receive information from local officials in the event of an emergency. Many cities conduct CERT programs (Community Emergency Response Team) that trains residents in all aspects of disaster preparedness. They also hold first aid and CPR/ AED training events, since during a disaster first responders may not be as available. Contact the local Red Cross chapter for training.

For more information on disaster preparedness and emergency response, visit www.redcross.org. For information about CERT training classes contact your local police or fire department.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: Burke County Red Cross

One Response to “Disaster Preparedness Brings Peace of Mind”

  1. Suburban Girl says:

    This was a great article. My family created a disaster preparedness plan a few years ago, and it created great peace of mind.

    We started with an 8×10 laminated card with all family members’ contact information, car license plates, doctor’s names, medications, employer’s or school evacuation procedures, etc. Every year, we update it. We even added photos of each family member to the laminated card so they can be shown to local emergency personnel if searching for a lost sibling or child.

    I also took a CERT class (community emergency responder training) locally — where I found out that most households are not prepared in ANY way. Please help your volunteer neighbors help YOU by being prepared for an emergency!

    Two things to add to your preparedness article:

    (1) Make a second grab-and-go bag for the car with water, snacks, small first aid kit, street maps, sun visor, walking shoes, etc. I also added a laminated yellow sign for the windshield that reads: “This vehicle has been abandoned by its owner who is walking home or to the nearest shelter. Please contact owner at (cell phone number).”

    (2) My CERT training also gave me the homework assignment of locating my gas, electrical and water shut-offs around my house. You’d be surprised how many people have no idea where these are or how to turn off these services (single-women homeowners take note!). My family created little laminated yellow tags for each area (gas meter, electrical box, water main) with instructions on how to turn off this utility in an emergency. Plus we chained a wrench to the gas meter that is specifically made to turn the “tang” or incoming gas valve. These wrenches cost a few dollars at the local hardware store and make disabling your gas meter completely idiot-proof under stressful, emergency conditions.

    FEMA also publishes a disaster handbook that includes (along with details for “normal” disasters) detailed info on what to do in a terrorist, biological, chemical or nuclear attack. It’s creepy, but worth printing out and keeping in your grab-and-go bag.

    Stocking up on water is easy by purchasing 1-gallon plastic bottles of water at the grocery which come in cases of six bottles. Easy to store and they’re protected from dust and damage by the cardboard box. Some bottles keep water fresh for two years — others just one year. Some (like the 5-gallon size) last for up to 5 years, I discovered.

    This was a great article for getting people thinking about caring for themselves. In an emergency, you can’t expect anyone else to help you — potentially for DAYS or WEEKS. It’s up to you.

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