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Simple Steps to Prepare for an Emergency

It’s critical that everyone know the following simple steps to prepare for an emergency. Disasters or hazards can happen in most communities several times during a lifetime.  Traveling may increases the risk of going into hazardous areas, as well.

It’s very important to know what to do, during and after an emergency.  Being prepared makes a huge difference, especially when seconds count.prepare for an emergency

Simple Steps to Prepare for an Emergency

In February 2003, Ready, a national public service advertising campaign was designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.  The main purpose of the campaign is “to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters.”

In addition, the goal of the campaign is “to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.”

The following are FEMA recommended measures and steps to help you prepare for an emergency.

Basic Protective Measures for All Hazards

  • Develop a family communications plan.
  • Make an emergency supply kit to be prepared for any type of disaster.
  • Learn about receiving emergency alerts and local emergency plans for shelter and evacuation, local emergency contacts, and local advance alerts and warnings.
  • Physical safety is a concern for all hazards and may involve sheltering or evacuating.
  • When recovering from a disaster, safety as well as mental and physical well-being must be considered.

In the event of an emergency, FEMA recommends everyone have an emergency supply kit.  The kit should contain a collection of basic household items.

FEMA also advises preparing the emergency kit well in advance, since you may need to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

After an emergency, you may have to survive on your own.  So, food, water, and other supplies, sufficient to last at least 72 hours, should be contained in the kit.

Keep in mind, basic services, like electricity, gas, sewage treatment, telephone service, and water may be cut off for days, a week, and even longer.  You should have enough supplies to last during outages.

Recommended Items for a Basic Emergency Supply Kit

  • Water, one gallon of water, per person, per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • First aid kit
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Consider Adding Additional Emergency Supplies to the Basic Emergency Kit

  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Paper and pencil
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Alternatively, in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water.  Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

In many cases, families are not together when an emergency or disaster strikes.  Therefore, it is important to create a way to communicate with one another.  Think about how you can develop a plan to communicate in various situations.

FEMA Offers the Following Suggestion

“Complete a contact card for each adult family member.  Have them keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse or briefcase, etc.  Additionally, complete contact cards for each child in your family.  Put the cards in their backpacks or book bags.”

Here is another communication tip offered by FEMA’s Ready campaign:

“Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.  If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone.  If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know.  Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.”

Visit Ready.gov for more information on simple steps to prepare for an emergency, disasters, and hazards.

About the author: George Zapo CPH, is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George provides informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles.

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