National Preparedness Month, is recognized each September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.”
With hurricane season in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the importance of preparedness, both at home and work. In our line of work, it is necessary to pre plan for each job, and ensure we have all the right equipment and resources prepped and ready to go once the call comes in. Well, when it comes to “family preparedness”, it is also necessary to have a plan in place for what you will do, and where you will go when disasters strike, and how you will communicate with your immediate and extended family members if you become separated during the event. Too often, people take for granted that there will be time to get everything together once they are notified about the storm, but unfortunately, not every disaster is like a hurricane that we can watch for days as it approaches, and then breathe a sigh of relief when the “Cone of Uncertainty” moves away from their area. Disasters like tornados, winter storms, and even severe thunderstorms with torrential rains and high straight-line winds can quickly produce just as much damage, for specific areas, as a hurricane.
The first step to ensure your family is prepared, and not scared, is to have your financials ready to withstand the impacts of a disaster. Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other information is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Taking the time now to collect and secure these critical records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay. (https://www.ready.gov/financial-preparedness)
The next step is not buying up all the bread and milk from the grocery store as many tend to do, but to have an actual Family Disaster Plan. Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find, even for the children. Discuss and practice the plan with your family members, especially your children. Don’t assume they will just know what to do. (https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan) (https://www.ready.gov/youth-preparedness)
Now once the plan is in place, it is essential to put together the stuff you’ll need to get you and your family through the disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s has put together a list of recommended items to have in an Emergency Preparedness Kit that you can keep at home, at work, and in your car for quick and immediate access for whatever disaster may strike.
15 Items Your Disaster Emergency Kit Should Include
FEMA offers a list of items your emergency kit should include, plus recommended actions you should take before, during and after a disaster.
Through its Ready Campaign, FEMA educates and encourages Americans to take some simple steps to prepare for and respond to potential emergencies, including natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
Here are some basic items your emergency kit should include:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
- At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask
- Moist towelettes
- Garbage bags
- Plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn of utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
It would also be beneficial to sign up to receive alerts from your state and local emergency notification systems.
Storing Your Hurricane Emergency Kit Items
FEMA recommends storing these items in airtight plastic bags and keeping the entire kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as plastic bins or duffel bags. Be sure to keep canned foods in a cool, dry place.
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, FEMA says, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. In addition to the recommended items above, your car should also include jumper cables, flares, an ice scraper, a cell phone charger, a blanket, a map and cat litter or sand for tire traction.
Additional Items You May Need
FEMA also recommends you consider the unique needs your family might have, including supplies for pets or seniors. Be sure to reevaluate your family’s needs every year and update your kit. These items may include:
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Glasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
- 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
Additionally, ready.gov provides recommended actions before, during and after a disaster to keep you and your loved ones safe.