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Are You Ready for a Disaster?

That’s a silly question!

We’re never ready for something bad to happen but if it does, do you have a “Survival” kit?

It doesn’t take a lot of money or effort to put one of these together and to give your self some peace of mind. Just remember, when faced with an earthquake, hurricane, fire, flood, or other emergency in your community, you need to be self-sufficient because there will not be available help for you and your family... It could take rescue workers days before they get to you, so having a good plan and enough supplies is of critical importance!

Here are some important items you should consider having in your Emergency Kit:

1. Food – canned food with pop-up lids; dry foods like crackers, cereal and stuff that can be eaten w/o cooking, like spam, chicken spread or tuna. If you’re in the military, you know what food rations look like; try to pack your emergency kit so that it is easy to carry, lasts for at least 3 days and has a shelf life of abt. 5 years. If your canned goods don’t come with pop-up lids, make sure you get a can-opener from the Dollar Store.

2. Water – buy some gallon jugs of water and store it in your hideout; don’t buy expensive brand name water---you’ll be using this water to drink and to wash with! Also get some Aquatabs, water purification tablets; they cost under $5 and clean water is a critical item to have during a crisis! If you have kids & pets, triple your supply.

3. Light – get a good supply of flash lights. The really simple ones cost under $5. Also get some green lightsticks; they don’t provide a lot of light but they get you noticed if people are looking for you. Invest in a Power Failure Emergency Light, costs abt. $25 but lights up automatically for 60 min. when power goes out. Can be very useful during blackouts! If you have camping gear, then make sure your lanterns work. Get them ready for use and keep them in your hideout. Make sure you have candles & matches. Sometimes if nothing else works, candlelight will be a huge relief in the dark. DO NOT USE MATCHES until you are sure you don’t have a Gas Leak!

4. Radio – essential to have a small portable transistor radio. Very cheap, under $10. It will keep you informed during a disaster when you don’t have tv, internet or phone access to the outside world! It’s terrible hiding out and being cut off from everyone else, not knowing the extent of damage around you…! *If you live in a highly active tornado area, get a Weather Radio ---it forecasts weather on 7 different frequencies and has a 24-hour storm alarm. If you don’t hear your town sirens going off, this radio will warn you in time to get out of bed!

5. Sanitation – make sure you have plenty of paper & wipes! Even if you can’t get to your toilet, you’ll still need to relieve yourself; You can invest in Toilet bags which run about $2.50 for a 12pk. You can use these alone or with a Bucket-style plastic toilet, abt. $15. Make sure you have Purell for your hands; washing with soap may not be an option and the water you store is not to be wasted. *Ladies make sure you have a month’s supply of feminine pads so you won’t waste toilet paper!

6. Clothes – old sweats, socks, sweaters & jeans; make sure you have SHOES or old sneakers!!! You will not be able to walk around barefoot in the rubble & broken glass! If you don’t know what to pack in your hideout, just pretend you have to jump out of bed in the middle of the night… You will be cold & you will need footwear. You will be very grateful for having thought of this in advance! You can buy plastic ponchos, hand warmers and other supplies very cheaply at any store (sports & recreation section).

7. Blankets – thermal blankets are as low as $5 at Walmart; you can find them in the camping gear section. If you have picnic blankets, old comforters or sleeping bags, pack those in a box and keep them in your hideout or in the closet under your stairs. When you run in your hideout, you will need to shelter yourself from possible debris. Old pillows are also very useful. Cover your children’s faces. *if you have bicycle helmets, these can protect your head from falling objects!

8. Batteries – You will need batteries for your radio & flash lights! Make sure you get the right size and check expiration date. There’s such a thing as a 20-yr shelf life battery but they’re kinda expensive, abt. $20 a pair, and they are referred to “Code Red ” emergency batteries; they have a red core and are not active until the tops are manually turned to activate the electrodes. This means that if the battery isn’t activated it doesn’t lose any power even if it’s used 20 years from now, and will shine brighter & last twice as long as any heavy duty battery!

9. Documents – Make photocopies of insurance cards, id cards, ss# cards, bank acct. numbers, important phone numbers, property deeds & auto papers. Use a copier that can reduce the size of your documents and try to photocopy the small items all on one sheet of paper. You don’t know how many times people needed to “prove” ownership of something but didn’t have any documents to that effect. If you lose your home during a disaster, it will be really useful to have all the info at some other location (mother’s house, fire-proof box, bank vault, or even in the trunk of your car!) If you own a USB flash key, store all your info on this small device and keep it with you. *keep at least $100 cash hidden somewhere in the event you cannot get to a bank – you may find places to buy some goods or even to gas up your car so you can get out of town!

10. Pet Supplies – dry dog food only; make sure you have your animal on a leash & close to you during hideout. If your pet is scared or becomes aggressive, lock it safely in pet cage /carrier, so you won’t have to go looking for them during your down-time. There are emergency dog & cat rations at specialty stores, in 10oz. vacuum-sealed bags for about $5 each. Your animal will be sharing your water & sanitation supplies with you, so make the appropriate allowances. Always make sure your pet has an ID tag!

11. First Aid – these kits come in a variety of sizes, but first you need to consider who you will be administering to in the event of a disaster. If your family needs meds, get a few pill containers and fill up with 2 weeks supply. Inhalers, make sure you have a couple of “fresh” ones in your kit. Take the time to find info (and print it out) basic aid instructions such as Head & Spine, Bone, Eye Burns, Bites & Stings. Your first aid kit should contain the OSHA recommended supplies but if you feel you might need extras, you can add those to your box. Some important first aid items are antiseptics, dressings & bandages, which can be bought individually at the any store.

Additional Preparations:

~ Earthquake – Stand in a strongly supported doorway or duck under a sturdy table; Stay away from heavy objects, bookcases, glass and light fixtures; shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity. Gas leaks can start fires and explosions. Be prepared for aftershocks which can be as bad as earthquake. If it moves, you move with it! If you are away from home, do not use elevators! If you are in a crowded place or store, do NOT rush to exits! Just stay away from display shelves and crouch down and protect your head & face with your arms. If you’re in your car, stop as soon as you can; avoid bridges, ramps overpasses and any other road structures that may been damaged. ***Consider using Safety Adhesive Fasteners to anchor appliances, computers, and TVs; use Picture Hooks to keep large frames or pictures from falling; use Furniture Fastening Straps to anchor heavy furniture which can shift & block your exit.

~ Hurricane -- Season begins around June 1st thru November 30th. Be prepared for high winds & flooding. Stay away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, and elevated expressways. Shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity. Use sand bags & tarps to cover patio doors, windows and other possible points of flooding. ***Get a supply of Tarps made with reinforced rip-resistant polyethylene, for quick on the spot shelter; Folding Shovel for clearing mud away from exit ways; Water-proof zip-lock bags for documents, small electronics, etc. If you are too close to ocean or other body of water, move to a higher ground immediately. Do not stay to watch the water rise; you cannot save your house by risking your life. If you live in a known flood zone, evacuate to your nearest shelter; know where your local Red Cross is at. Take your insurance policy info with you!

~ Tornado – Stay away from windows, mirrors & flying objects; hide in the lowest level of your house or closet under your stairs. Overturn your kitchen table or couch and use it as a shield. If you are outside, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. A Tornado Watch, means there’s a possibility of a tornado appearing; a Tornado Warning, means one has been spotted and you need to take cover. If you hear something that sounds like a freight train coming in your direction, it is a tornado! Listen to your radio for information & instructions; If you don’t have a safe shelter or live in a mobile home, evacuate immediately to your nearest shelter or Red Cross shelter.

~ Fires -- Check your smoke & fire detectors; make sure they work! To contain fire, you need to close all windows and anything that lets in air! Air fuels a fire and it helps it spread faster. Make sure you have a portable fire extinguisher. Know how to use it. If you are on upper floor of house, use your rope ladder to climb out window. Don’t hesitate; the fire will spread and smoke inhalation can kill you! If your clothes catch on fire, Drop & Roll on the ground! To escape a fire, check closed doors with your hand before opening! If it’s hot, do not open. If there’s smoke, crawl on the floor until you get to your exit. If you are trapped in a room, hang a bed sheet or something white out the window so fire fighters can see you.

~ Tsunamis are not common in U.S., They are enormous seismic sea waves (not “tidal waves”), created by an underwater disturbance like an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or meteorite. A tsunami can move hundreds of miles per hour in the open ocean and smash into land with waves as high as 100 feet or more. If you live in an area prone to this type of disaster, learn about preparedness & evacuation before this becomes a crisis.

~ Child ID & Records Kit – consider having your child fingerprinted and an ID card issued by your local police station. This helps in many situations to identify those who are lost or go missing. *I know this is something you don’t want to think about, but if there ever came a time when the authorities had to find your child, it would be a great tool for them to have on record.

~ Cell Phone Car Charger – having one of these can make a huge difference, especially if there’s no power in your house. Start your car and charge up your cell phone so you can call out for help.

~ Extra Keys – make extra keys for house & car and keep one set in your hideout and a second set in your Hide-a-Key magnet slot (hidden in the under-carriage of your car) or a flower pot in your back yard..

~ Get a Steel Crowbar! It’s cheap and it will help you open jammed doors or windows after an earthquake; don’t get stuck!

~ Rope Ladders hook onto window sills and allow for an escape route when exits are blocked; this is good for earthquakes, fires & floods especially if you are trapped upstairs.

~ Fanny Pack – these are so useful; fill with your pills, documents, extra keys, etc., and hang in your coat closet. Grab n Go when you receive disaster warning.

~ Have a Plan – talk to your family about what everyone needs to be doing during a crisis. Have a place to meet in the event you get separated. Consider having a second escape route in the event your stairs are blocked – a roped ladder is good for climbing out windows when you are stuck upstairs with no way out! Develop a way to leave messages for each other outside of the home. This is important when children are at school and parents at work and they need to contact each other --- phone services will probably be out for a while, so have a discreet place to leave a message for your family. Practice your plan and know all possible exits & danger spots in your home.

~ Car Survival Kit – consider having basic necessities stored in the trunk of your car. In the event you cannot get to an evac shelter but cannot stay at home either, your car kit will be the most valuable item you have!

*** for more information on preparing your survival kit, check with your local community. Your phone book should also have a checklist to help you out; also check Coast Guard, Red Cross, FEMA or third-party Preparedness Experts. For a State to State EMA, check the following website: http://www.survival-supply.com/info_pages.php?pages_id=53

Please don’t wait till the last minute! I’ve lived through several earthquakes, 2 hurricanes and many close calls with tornados!!! It’s not a pleasant experience and it definitely makes a difference when you have a plan; it makes a difference to your children and offers some psychological relief knowing you’re on top of things!




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