Are You Prepared?
Experts are predicting a “near normal” 2012 Atlantic hurricane season with 12 named storms, of which four to seven are expected to become hurricanes, including one to three major hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher. In an average 3-year period, roughly six hurricanes strike the US coastline, killing from 50 to 100 people anywhere from Texas to Maine.
Hurricane season runs from June thru November. Being prepared for a possible disaster is the best way to minimize losses and recovery time. Is your family prepared to exist without basic services such as electricity, gas, water, and telephone? While no one can be fully prepared for a disaster, planning ahead may reduce much of the panic and frustration that often follows a disaster. Families who are prepared have a greater chance for survival and recovery. Each family should have a survival kit prepared in advance to help them through the first few days following a disaster. Store the kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep items in airtight plastic bags or containers. Items to include in the kit are:
Emergency Lights – With extra batteries, unscented candles with waterproof matches.
Water – Store in clean plastic containers. A minimum of one gallon per day for each family member is suggested. Replace the water every six months. Use water purifying tablets or household bleach for treating questionable water.
Food – Include enough non-perishable food for at least 48 to 72 hours. Select foods that require no refrigeration, cooking or preparation such as canned or packaged, precooked or dehydrated/freeze-dried foods, and instant food, which can be eaten without heating or cooking. Rotate these foods into your regular diet to keep your food supply fresh.
Radio – With extra batteries.
First Aid Kit – You should have two kits – one for your home and one for your car. Either purchase an approved American Red Cross Kit or assemble your own. Be sure to include prescription medicines required by family members.
Fire Extinguisher – Class ABC extinguisher can be safely used on any type of fire, including electrical, grease or gas.
Sanitation – Include a portable toilet, toilet paper and towelettes, soap and liquid detergent, feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, plastic garbage bags with ties, a small shovel for digging a latrine, plastic bucket with a tight lid, disinfectant and liquid chlorine bleach.
Money – In times of disaster, it may be hard to get money from your bank. Keep a small supply of cash and change. Credit cards and travelers checks may be needed.
Clothing and Bedding – Include at least one complete change of clothing [according to season] and footwear per person, rain gear, hat and gloves, and thermal underwear. Provide blankets and a sleeping bag for each family member.
Tools – A basic tool kit may be needed to make necessary repairs.
Generator – A small, gas powered generator that would run some electricity to your home.
Other Items – You may want to include are a camp type stove or small charcoal grill with charcoal and starter fuel.
Pets – Plan for your pet if you must evacuate your home. Although trained service dogs are allowed in emergency shelters, other pets are not always allowed due to public health and safety reasons. Emergency preparedness authorities are considering “leave no pet behind” by including them in evacuation plans.
The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense. Have a plan and follow through with it. For help in developing your plan Cooperative Extension has developed a handbook to assist you in preparing for a disaster. “Your Guide to Preparing for Emergencies” is posted on the web at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/disaster/handbook.pdf.
I also encourage you to visit the Lee County Emergency Management website at http://leecountync.gov/Departments/EmergencyManagement.aspx and sign up for DeltAlert, our emergency and mass notification system for Lee County Residents. By signing up you will receive on your cell phone, email and text numbers emergency notifications from the Lee County Emergency Services and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. This is a free service.
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. Families will be best equipped to cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection.
Susan C. Condlin is County Extension Director for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Lee County Center.