September is National Preparedness Month — make sure your home, car, and place of work are prepared for any disaster. The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a tremendous website which includes tips on how to be prepared for severe weather, wildfires, and man-made emergencies. Here are the top five items FEMA recommends for your home preparedness kit:
- Water. One gallon per person per day for one week. Why? In floods and hurricanes, the water supply can be interrupted for a long time before power is restored, water facilities are sanitized, and the system gets back online. People and their pets can survive for several days without food, but nothing survives without water. You’ll also need water for cooking and brushing your teeth. Plastic water jugs can be stored in a freezer, where they freeze solid. When the power goes out, use those jugs to keep your refrigerated food cold. As the ice inside the jug melts, it also supplies you with cool drinking water.
- Food. At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Why? Because you may not be able to make it to Waffle House! Non-perishable food includes dried fruit and freeze-dried camping foods, canned tuna and chicken, canned soup, peanut butter, and energy bars. If you have canned foods, make sure you have a hand-operated can opener. Keep these foods stored in a cool, dry place and rotate them out to be sure your supply is kept fresh.
- A battery powered or hand-cranked radio. Make sure your radio features NOAA Weather Radio so you can get instantaneous updates directly from your local weather forecast office, and your emergency manager. Crank radios like the Midland ER210 and ER310 Emergency Crank Radios allow you to recharge your cell phone battery when power is out.
- First aid kit. Simple first aid kits have basic bandages, gauze, and antibacterial ointments. More sophisticated first aid kits are available to treat severe injuries and can save lives in a major disaster.
- The other stuff: Pet food and dishes, prescription drugs, spare reading glasses, a reliable old pair of shoes or boots, cell phone charging cords, an extra set of house and car keys, a checkbook, passports and Social Security cards in a waterproof bag, toilet paper and hygiene items, flashlights and extra batteries.
If getting all these items seems too overwhelming, just Do 1 Thing. Buy one item every time you shop for groceries, or buy one major item every month. In about a year and a half, you’ll have a disaster preparedness kit with almost everything you need, and it won’t drain your pocketbook. For encouragement, go to do1thing.com and sign up for their email. Once a month they’ll suggest something new you can add to your kit. It’s easy, and it works!
Remember, in a major disaster you and your neighbors will be the first responders. It’s important to be able to fend for yourselves for the first minutes, hours, or days until help can arrive. Take it upon yourself to get your family ready. Together we’ll build a Weather-Ready Nation! For more information about National Preparedness Month, visit our other blogs: Week 1: Make a Plan; Week 2: Build a Kit; Week 3: Prepare for Disasters; and Week 4: Teach Youth About Preparedness.