With five of the six counties in ISU Extension's Region 6 recently being declared "disaster" counties (Buena Vista, Cherokee, Ida, Pocahontas, and Sac), I was reminded of the need for disaster preparedness. How prepared are you and your family? No matter what the disaster, big or small, following some simple preparedness steps can help to minimize the event's impact on your family. The three steps include putting together an emergency supply kit, developing a family emergency plan, and being informed on the different emergencies and their appropriate response.
If a disaster should occur, you may not have time to run to get supplies. Here is a list of basic supplies to keep on hand. The American Red Cross recommends the kit be put together in a sturdy container that is easily accessible and can hold a 3-day supply of the following items for everyone in the household. They recommend keeping the kit current; checking it every six months for expired items.
* Water--Store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day in clear plastic containers. This will provide water for drinking as well as for limited cleaning and cooking.
* Food--Store a supply of non-perishable foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. Items could include high energy bars, ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables, and soups, canned juices, and peanut butter. Remember to store a manual can opener with these non-perishable food items.
* First Aid and Medications--Include first aid items, plus nonprescription drugs such as aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid (for stomach upset), syrup of Ipecac or activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center), laxatives, and any needed prescription drugs. Ask your pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
* Flashlight -- Locate a good flashlight and you will never be in the dark!
Radio -- Secure either a battery operated or hand crank radio.
* Batteries -- Obtain extra batteries will be necessary for the flashlight and radio.
* Personal Supplies--Include toilet paper and moist towelettes, feminine supplies, plastic garbage bags and ties (for personal sanitation), plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant, soap and liquid detergent, household chlorine bleach for purification, and personal hygiene items.
* Tools--Secure disposable eating utensils, emergency preparedness manual, matches in a waterproof container, utility knife, multi-purpose tool, and duct tape.
* Special Needs--Anticipate the special needs of family members such as infants, elderly or the disabled by adding specific items for them to the disaster supply kit. How about pet supplies?
Store your disaster supply kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Another good idea would be to keep a smaller version of the disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car(s).
You and your loved ones may not be together when an emergency strikes. Some may be at work, others at school, while some may be at home. Make a communication plan so you will be able to stay in touch with each other. Choose an out of town friend or relative to be a contact point for family members to call if you are separated during an emergency. Post emergency and contact numbers by all phones in your home. And make sure everyone knows how and when to call 911 or local emergency medical services for emergency assistance.
Being informed on appropriate responses to different emergencies will provide peace of mind and will keep a household prepared for future events. For additional information, go to the Red Cross web site at http://www.redcross.org/ and under "Preparing and Getting Trained", click on "Preparedness Fast Facts".