Preparing For Disaster
Consider life in a world without electricity, the grocery store or access to your car. This may sound far-fetched, but all it takes are a couple of days without electricity for this to become reality. An earthquake, hurricane, tornado or an ice storm can cause this to happen. Extreme heat can even turn into an emergency in the right conditions.
First Aid Kits
Always be prepared. Don’t forget to bring light sources and first aid supplies.One of the most important things you can pack for a disaster is a first aid kit. During a true disaster, you will need to take care of injuries on your own because the health care services, if you can get to them, are going to be overrun with people. Keeping your first aid kit ready to go ensures you can meet the needs of your family, even if you can’t get to a medical facility. Here’s what the Red Cross recommends you have in a first aid kit for a family of four:
- Absorbent compress dressings (2)
- Adhesive bandages (25 or more)
- Adhesive cloth tape (1 roll)
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic wipes or spray
- Non-latex gloves
- A blanket
- Disposable thermometers
- Instant cold compress
- 3-inch-wide roller bandage
- 4-inch-wide roller bandage
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Breathing barrier for CPR
- Triangular bandages
- First aid instruction booklet
- Emergency phone numbers
- Flashlight with working batteries
- Hand sanitizer
- Any prescription medications your family must have
Would your pantry be able to feed your family for long without a weekly trip to the store? What would you do if your water supply were contaminated?
Disaster preparedness requires food and water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates you need to have a three-day supply of food for each family member, including your pets, to be prepared for an emergency. If you are going to err on the side of caution, you can have even more on hand.
However, not all foods are created equal. As you well know, many foods spoil quickly, no matter how you store them. Unless you buy enough to rotate your food supply and just keep enough on hand, you’re going to need to shop carefully.
As you buy food, consider preparation. If you have no gas or electric service, would you be able to cook oatmeal? Canned nuts and peanut butter and jelly on crackers may be a better choice. Of course, you could create an outdoor fire, if the disaster did not cause too much flooding, but make sure you have some types of food that are easy to make or ready to eat as they are.
Here are some items you should buy for your emergency food supply, and the length of time they should last if stored properly:
- Boxed potatoes (six months)
- Dry crackers (six months)
- Powdered milk (six months)
- Dried fruit (six months)
- Canned foods (one year)
- Peanut butter and jelly (one year)
- Cereals that are unopened (one year)
- Dried corn, pasta and rice (many years)
- Coffee, tea and cocoa (many years)
- Bouillon products (many years)
- Beef jerky (many years)
Also, don’t forget water. If your area is hit by a hurricane, tornado or earthquake, you may lose access to clean water. You will need at least 1 gallon per person for a minimum of three days to protect your family. Keep in mind that children, expectant women, sick individuals and those living in a hot climate are going to need more.
When packing your food items, make sure you avoid:
- Foods that will deplete water in your body (caffeinated or highly salted foods)
- Foods that expire quickly (fresh fruits and vegetables)
- Foods that must be frozen or refrigerated
- Foods that require a lot of prep
- Foods with little nutritional value (candy, fruit snacks, chips)
So how can you power your necessary items in an emergency? Consider buying these:
- A generator – Although costly, a generator can keep your home up and running if the emergency did not do structural damage to your home. This can buy you time while you wait for electricity to be restored.
- An emergency weather radio – Make sure you know what is going on with the weather and any disaster recovery efforts with an emergency weather radio. Consider a hand-crank type, so you are protected even if you can’t get batteries. Look for one with a “public alert” feature.
- Hand-crank emergency cell phone charger – Make sure you have a way to contact people, and keep the phone charged, with a hand-crank emergency cell phone charger.
- Propane – If you have a lot of propane-powered items, consider keeping some extra propane on hand to keep them powered.
As you’re considering power for an emergency, know what to avoid as well. You probably won’t need:
- Tons of batteries – Batteries have a limited shelf life. Consider buying a few, but relying on recharging generators for the majority of your needs. If you do add batteries to your emergency preparedness kit, make sure to check them regularly for signs of corrosion.
- Anything that must plug in or relies on fuel – Electricity and fuel may be in short supply. Look for manually or solar-powered sources of power rather than those fueled by electricity or gas.