It’s true, we normally hear of disasters in other places, however, Utah had a major disaster declaration in September due to severe storms and flooding. Areas throughout the state also had a number of fire management assistance declarations in 2012. While we all wish no one had to experience these things, it’s just impossible to be certain that you never will. So, for all of us, it is wise to at least take basic steps toward being prepared.
Here are some basic tips from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
First – make a plan in advance in case of a disaster or emergency. Families should determine how they will contact one other if they aren’t together, which places could provide safety and how each family member might get to those safe places. Also check to see if disaster preparedness plans have been developed at your work or school or other places where you gather with your family and neighbors.
Another tip is to put together the “kit,” often referred to as the 72-hour kit. This is a collection of items you would likely need if you had to leave your home or work for a day, days or longer. The general recommendation is to have enough food, water and other necessities, including medicines, to last 72 hours. Even if you were able to stay in your home there might not be any electricity, gas or water, so you would need specific items to help you during that time. Many people also have kits in locations besides the home, such as in a vehicle or at work. Your 72-hour kit should be mobile – a backpack is a good option – and kept it an easy-to-find location.
FEMA suggests the kit should include one-gallon of water per person per day for at least three days and a three-day supply of non-perishable foods. This food could include canned goods, however, remember to have a manual can opener and utensils. Whole-grain cereals are also fine, but avoid salty foods that can cause thirst. Have a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, and a battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Also have a dust mask to filter the air, plastic sheeting and duct tape for shelter, a whistle to signal for help, garbage bags and plastic ties, moist towelettes for personal sanitation and a wrench to turn off utilities like water or gas.
Other items could include glasses or contact lenses, food and water for any pets, items needed by infants, copies of family documents such as insurance policies, identification and bank records, cash, sleeping bags or blankets, a change of clothes, matches, and emergency reference materials such as a first aid book.
It doesn’t take much time to put these things together and to store them in a convenient-to-access place. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
For more information about these topics call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.