Hurricane Harvey and wildfires raging throughout the Pacific Northwest are a good reminder to be prepared for emergencies.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, emergency preparedness starts long before anything ever happens, which makes sense.
Knowing the types of emergencies and risks that could affect the area you live in is important. For most of us, fires and earthquakes are probably the most likely emergencies to occur. If you live closer to the coast, flooding due to a tidal wave or heavy rains could be an issue as well.
For some preparedness might start with buying the right insurance. If you live in a flood zone, maybe buying flood insurance is right for you. Maybe not. Take the time to talk with knowledgeable insurance professionals who can explain the related costs, risks and benefits.
Families should develop an emergency plan. The plan should include communications, meeting places, escape routes, location of utility shut-offs and more. You can find checklists with all sorts of good tips on the www.fema.gov website.
Good planning also includes buying and maintaining emergency supplies. Probably the most important emergency supply is clean, drinkable water. If a big earthquake were to strike, it could be quite some time before water pipes are fixed. Having clean, drinkable water to stay hydrated and cook with is essential. The general rule is one gallon of water per person, per day.
Non-perishable food also needs to be kept on hand. Whether these are freeze-dried meals in a bag, powdered or dry goods, keep them securely stored. Your family should have at least three days of food stored. If you include canned goods in the emergency kit, remember the can opener.
Any good emergency kit will include a number of other essential supplies. A flashlight with spare batteries is important. The hard part is keeping fresh batteries in the kit.
A reliable emergency radio could be your only link to news and the community. If a huge earthquake hits the area, electric power would likely go out, meaning cellphones wouldn’t get recharged and the internet could be down too. Having a radio can keep you connected to when and where services are available.
A first aid kit can save lives. If a disaster hits, someone in your family could get injured. Being able to stop any bleeding and sanitize wounds could prevent a bad injury from being much worse.
One of the easier items to store is waterproof matches and lighters. It can get awfully cold, even on some summer nights, so the ability to start a fire is essential. Also, a fire can be used to cook foods and, if need be, boil water.
Extra coats, long pants, shirts and some clean underwear should go in the emergency kit. A small stash of cash would be a smart addition as well. Getting cash during an emergency may or may not be possible, so having some money to buy essentials may save you.
Don’t forget anyone with unique or special needs. Is there a baby in the house? If so, some cans of formula, diapers and some sort of wipes would be good. Both young and old can have special needs, so do the best you can to stock shelves with them in mind.
One of the toughest things to do during any emergency is to stay calm. When talking to police, fire or emergency professionals they always stress the need to remain calm and above all don’t panic.
When people panic they tend not to think clearly, affect decision making and can make an already difficult situation even worse.
If you’ve planned and prepared for an emergency, it will increase your likelihood of surviving.
In last week’s “Saturday Thumbs,” we wrote about the possible need for a city leash law. The thumb mentioned a citizen whose dog had been attacked and killed. This was incorrect.
The citizen’s dog was attacked and nearly killed, but survived. We’ve corrected the online version of the Saturday Thumbs and apologize for the error.