Emergency preparedness: Are you ready?

Emergencies can happen at any time and planning ahead can help you and your family stay safe.  Examples of emergencies include natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, and massive storms; man-made events such as terrorism; pandemics, such as flu pandemics; and blackouts. To plan for such events, you and your family should create an emergency supply kit or “go bag”, make a family emergency plan, and learn what to do in different types of emergencies.

Making an emergency kit

Make your emergency kit now, before disaster strikes because you will not have time to do so during the emergency. Place the items of your kit together in a waterproof container, backpack, bag, or other easy to carry container. When you store your kit, make sure it is within easy reach. Your kit should include:

  • Water for at least three days. The number of people and pets are part of your family will determine the minimum amount of water you will need in your kit. Think one gallon for each person and each pet per day.
  • Food for at least 3 days. The foods you choose should be those that do not need to be kept in the cold. These types of food include energy bars, peanut butter, crackers, and canned fruit and vegetables.  The USDA has a factsheet on how to keep food safe during power outages, floods, and fires and a factsheet on keeping food safe during an emergency, which includes frequently asked questions.
  • Prescription medicines that you use daily. This includes any medications that you take for diabetes or asthma. Remember any pet medications, as well.
  • First aid kit, which you can use to treat cuts, burns, and other basic injuries. You can buy one at many stores or you can make a first aid kit for your family.
  • A flashlight and extra batteries.
  • A hand crank radio or battery powered radio with extra batteries.

For more information on how to prepare an emergency kit and what to include, please take a look at FEMA’s Emergency Supply Kit Checklist. You may also download this free Emergency Preparedness Guide and Checklist for People with Disabilities (PDF) and check out these emergency preparedness online courses geared toward people with disabilities and service providers.

Making Plans

There is a possibility that you and your family members may not be in the same place when an emergency occurs. You might consider having each family member call the same friend or relative in case of emergency. FEMA has a family emergency plan that can be printed, filled out, and handed out to all family members.

Places like your work and your children’s schools should have emergency plans in place; ask them for a copy of their emergency plan. There are several questions that you can ask schools, child care centers, senior centers, or your  employer, including how they will communicate with families or employees during a crisis; do they store food, water, and supplies; and if they are prepared to “shelter in place” if need be.

To find out about the different kinds of disasters that may occur in your area or to get more information on how to prepare, contact your state’s emergency management office.

On Thursday, August 22nd, at 1:30 pm ET, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) will host a webinar called Get Ready for Falls Awareness Day 2013.  To register for  the webinar, please visit the NCOA. This year’s theme is Preventing Falls – One Step at a Time. To learn more and download the media toolkit, please visit the Center on Healthy Aging.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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