Hurricane Disaster Kits: Calmly Getting Prepared for Hurricane Irene
By Ellen Cannon
As many families are trying to get ready for the possibility of Hurricane Irene making landfall over the weekend some clear information as what to put into an emergency family kit and how to prepare for possible evacuation in a calm manner is helpful. When it comes to natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes, 95% of people in the U.S. believe that a serious disaster won’t happen to their families. In fact 60% of the population has been affected by some natural disaster. A good rule of thumb for all individuals and families is “ be prepared”. Take the time to put together basic emergency kits for you, the kids, your pets, and special need persons or elderly members of the family that you will always have ready. Also, know what evacuation means and basic steps that you can take to protect you and the family in a calm manner. (Ellen Cannon, “FEMA says Prepare in the Mid-Atlantic States and the Northeast, joltleft.com, 8/24/11) .
If there is an emergency and you need to evacuate immediately make sure to take the following items:(1)personal identification; (2) special items for babies/young children /elderly including diapers, formula, and medication; (3) 3 gallons of water person; (4) bar soap/basic toiletries including 10 day supply of prescription medications, hand sanitizer, list of medications, medical insurance card; (5) non-electric can opener and utility knife like a Swiss Army knife; (6) paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils; (7)blankets or a sleeping bags; (8) a change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each member of the family; (9) canned nonperishable foods including canned fish, meat, milk, fruit, and vegetables (10 cans per person is recommended)
In addition, if you are evacuating put the following supplies in an easy to carry water proof bag or container: (1)battery powered radio or crank up radio which requires no battery; (2) extra batteries; (3) flash light; (4) signal flare; (5) first aid kit and manual, include antibiotic cream and antacids and prescription medications; (6) personal identification (7) credit card and cash; (8) an extra set of car keys; (9) an extra pair of eyeglasses; (10)a whistle; (11) matches in a waterproof container;(12) plastic garbage bags; (13)plastic bucket with tight lid; (14) important phone numbers; (15)cell phone which will enable you to text or twitter if phone surge is occurring; (15) paper and pencils; (16) duct tape.
Additional food items that you can include for an emergency or evacuation include: (1) peanut butter and jelly; (2) ready to eat canned soup; ( 3)bread and crackers stored in a waterproof bag or container; (4) powered drinks or single serve drinks in a box; (5) cereal /granola bars placed in a waterproof bag or container; (6) packaged condiments such as ketchup, mayo, etc. For further information see www.healthychildren.org/english/safety-prevention/athome/Pages/Understanding. This is an excellent site produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Emergency kits for pets should include: (1) a two week supply for dry and canned foods; (2) water (1/2 gallon per day); (3) litter box supplies including newspapers and plastic bags to handle waste; (4) traveling cage; (5) leash each pet during evacuation if not contained in a carrier; (6) any medication the pet is taking; (7) food bowl) veterinary records if you will be boarding the pet in a facility. For further information see www.aspca.org/sitePageServer?pagename=emergency.
If you are told to evacuate by local authorities, take these steps: (1) leave right away if told to do so; (fill up the car with gas as soon as possible prior to storm); (2) listen to your battery powered radio or crank radio for instructions from local officials; (3) wear protective clothing and shoes; (4) shut off water, gas, and electricity if told to do so; (5) leave a note telling when you left and where you are going; (6) call (if possible) or twitter or text a family member or contact telling that person where you are going; (6) take the emergency supplies listed as well as the pet supplies and animals; (7) lock your home; (8)use routes suggested by local officials.
If power goes out and you are not evacuating the following is useful information: (1) remain calm and assist vulnerable family members; (2) locate a flashlight with batteries to use until power comes back on. Do not use candles – this can cause a fire; (3) turn off and unplug sensitive electric equipment such as computers, VCR’s and televisions; (4) turn off major electric appliances that were on when the power went off. This will help prevent power surges when electricity is restored; (5) keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep cold in and heat out; (6) if you are in your car when storm hits, use extreme caution. If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign – come to a complete stop at every intersection and look before your continue; (7) do not call 911 to ask about the power outage; (8) listen to the news on your battery powered or crank radio. For additional information go to www.fema.gov/areyou ready.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your family before the storm: (1) plan an evacuation route; (2) discuss plan with the family and /or neighbors; (3) know where shelters are located and link them to your evacuation plan; (4) have your disaster supplies ready; (5) move valuables from the home or put them on a higher floor;(6) if you have pets know where you will take them. Contact the local humane society to find out where there is an animal shelter in your area; (7) make sure the entire family understands what to do during the hurricane; (8) have a plan to bring the family back together once the storm ends. If you can, write this out for each family member and have them place it in a secure place such as a wallet or a small plastic zip bag. For further information go to www.opm.gov/emergencyor www.ready.gov/readygov brochure2.pdf) or www.ready.gov/america/beinformed/hurricanes/htlmpri
Preparing for man-made or natural disasters is a form of individual and community empowerment. The more each of us prepares, the better the community can respond to an incident. Future resiliency of the community and a return to normalcy after the incident is a goal that can be realized.