Are you and your family prepared for an emergency?

September 20, 2017
 

The recent storms and horrific flooding in the Houston area as well as the recent Oroville Dam damage should remind all of us to take a minute and assess how we would do in the event of a local disaster.  You want to plan for two scenarios — if you need to shelter in place and if you need to evacuate quickly.

If these emergencies occur — you may not have access to food, water, and electricity for days or even weeks.  Take some time now and have a plan — store some emergency food and water and you can provide for your entire family.  Once you have your plan in place — make sure your family knows and understands it.  

When a disaster occurs — the community needs its hospitals to be at top function and also looks for other volunteers to help out the worst hit areas.  Would you be able to help take care of others if you are worried about your family?  The answer is likely a resounding “NO!” — so please read on and use the suggestions and tools below to help keep your world taken care of — so that you can help others in our community.

Emergency Food Supplies:

You want to have a stock of food to last you two weeks.  Yes, hopefully you will not need that much, but by using the items that you keep in your pantry and adding some additional canned goods and other staples — you should be ready for almost anything. 

Familiar food is important and can lift your family’s morale and lessen stress — so try to stick with foods that you and your family already eat.  This is also important for people with more delicate GI tracts — when a total change in diet can cause major GI upset. Take into account special diets and food intolerances. Foods that require no refrigeration, water, special preparation, or cooking are the best choices.  Be sure to include a manual can opener and some disposable utensils in your stash.

Don’t forget your other family members — your pets. You should always keep a nonperishable food supply (2 weeks +) for your pets.  Include them when you calculate your water storage needs too.

Tip: Don’t forget to rotate foods: Watch the expiration dates and use the practice of FIFO — first in, first out to make sure you use up the older foods first.

Electricity and your food supply:

Again, it is always important to have a plan.  When electricity goes off first use perishable foods from your refrigerator or garden, then use foods from the freezer (always limit the number of times you open the freezer and refrigerator doors).  Finally use the non-perishable foods and staples. If you have a gas grill you can always keep extra propane canisters filled and ready to use to cook those freezer items or reheat something.

Tip: In a well filled and well insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers — so they are still safe to eat for at least two days.

Emergency Water Supplies:

Having enough clean drinking water is priority in an emergency. Most people will need at least a half gallon to a gallon per day. You should plan to store a two week supply for each family member — don’t forget to include your pets. Water is important to keep us hydrated, cool us down, and keep vital organ systems working properly so you should never plan to ration water. Keep as much as you will need on hand.

Disaster Supplies Kit:

If you ever need to evacuate — having a kit packed can make a huge difference in yours and your family’s comfort and safety. If you need to leave in a moment’s notice — you likely won’t have time to shop or search for things you and your family will need. Every household should assemble a disaster supplies kit and keep it up to date.

A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items a family would need to stay safe and comfortable during or after an emergency. These kits should be stored as close as possible to an exit door.  Review the contents annually or as your family’s needs change. It is also a good idea to keep some sort of emergency supplies in each of your vehicles.

Your basic disaster supply kit should include:

  • three day supply of nonperishable food and a manual can opener
  • three day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • pet food and water
  • portable battery powered radio or television and extra batteries
  • first aid kit and manual
  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • sanitation and hygiene items (including hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, toilet paper)
  • matches in waterproof container
  • a whistle
  • extra clothing and blankets
  • kitchen accessories, cooking utensils, disposable flatware, plates, napkins
  • photocopies of identification and credit cards (front and back)
  • cash and coins (small bills are best)
  • special needs items:  prescription medications (keep a recent bottle for ease of refill, eye glasses (keep your last prescription in there instead of discarding), contact lens supplies, hearing aide batteries – are some examples
  • basic infant supplies  - formula, diapers, bottles, pacifiers
  • tools, pet supplies, maps of your area
  • downtime items such as books, games, wine or beer (& openers)

Communication:

You might work in Vacaville but your spouse works in San Francisco and your daughter takes classes in Walnut Creek. Will they know the emergency plan when a disaster hits? Where do you keep your evaluation food and water supplies? Where are you supposed to meet if you are not allowed back into your neighborhood? How you will contact each other if cell phone towers are overloaded or land lines are down? It is recommended that you have an out of town or even out of state contact person that you can each call as a check in point. Communication is key to avoid the uncertainty of not knowing your family is alive and well.

A little bit of time up front can immeasurably improve yours and your family’s safety and comfort in an emergency situation as well as help you be ready to render aid in your community. Learn more tips and information at www.redcross.org; www.fema.gov; and www.ready.gov.

 

Tags: Nourish, Nutrition

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