Over the last few months, four tornado traumas have involved friends and family.
Disaster preparedness has been a topic of conversation as they recount bumping around the house looking for flashlights, then batteries, then candles and no lighter.
Ever notice how most emergencies seem to wake us from a deep sleep? When we are stressed or sleep-groggy, the brain just doesn’t help us out. Emergencies include home fire, power outage or unexpected evacuation (be it home or hotel). In these cases, where are the family members? What about the pets?
Even our little community has had various disasters over the last few years. During the winter of 2007-08, many were without power, water or communication for several days. Completely isolated for several days.
Is your family prepared? Do you have a transistor radio, a flashlight (with extra batteries), chlorine to treat the water – what about a manual can opener? Food that is useable? Is it all in one place with easy access for all family members even in the dark?
Now is a great time to start. There are several handy Web sites to help you create a personalized supply that you can put into a storage container based on the number in your household, even down to the amount and type of food needed. An interactive site that can be personalized is www.breadysd.com/kit.cfm to help families analyze the amounts and types of supplies needed, as well as budget for purchasing over a period of time. Another site provides a very easy to understand resource checklist: www.ready.gov/america/getakit/index.
html. The Red Cross Web site provides a list of supplies needed to sustain an adult for three days. It even has information to develop a kit for employees that, in the case of an emergency, would be forced to stay in the office environment for several hours extra or even overnight.
Another good site is www.
operationhope.org/effak for emergency financial first aid. What about your important records and paperwork? Take a few hours to organize and deal with this. What should be stored where? The rule is if the original would be difficult and/or expensive to replace, store it in a safe-deposit box. What about backing up the documents on your computer? Is a copy on a memory stick best (easiest form and space efficient)?
Would a home safe be sufficient? Only if it will withstand fire, flood or even a tornado. Can it withstand temperatures up to 1,700 degrees? If so, try to place the safe in the basement to decrease the risk of it falling through the floor in a fire.
What about narrated videotape and digital card with photos of possessions, vehicles and contents of your garage? These are good to keep in your box as well as appraisals (updated every two to three years) of jewelry, collectibles and artwork.
During the disaster, keep a log to help substantiate any expenses or losses. A phone calling card can be useful if your cell phone battery dies. And cash. Cash should be in the form of money or travelers checks so you would have something to get by on for three to four days in case you can’t get home, if power is out, ATMs are unavailable, etc.
Be one of the fewer than 20 percent nationally who is prepared.
Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for
the La Plata County