September is National Emergency Preparedness month and to be honest, I never really thought about this too much. I’m not the type of person who panicked at the year 2000, in fact I laughed at people who basically stocked a bomb shelter days before New Year’s Eve that year. But as a Professional Organizer and someone who naturally plans ahead, it would make sense that I should know a little something about preparing for natural and man-made disasters. Since 9/11 our area certainly has had our share of them! And quite frankly, while we haven’t had real disasters, there have been plenty of times when my house and my neighborhood has been out of power for 4 days or more. Each time I vow there is something else I’m going to do to be prepared. So, I recently attended a class on this with my fellow organizers in Philadelphia and I’d like to share with you what I learned.
1. Verify the information you are receiving about any disaster. Lots of rumors spread among neighbors; make sure you are only acting on information from a credible source.
2. Have a list of emergency numbers posted in your home and on your cell phone. This may include: local Red Cross, School Info Lines, Power Company, Water Company, Telephone company. That way you can call immediately for an outage or to get up to date information on that utility.
3. Pick a safe room in your home in case you need to shelter in place. Choose a low room for a tornado, high for a flood, a bathroom for hurricane or earthquake.
4. Create an emergency plan/checklist for your family to help. One person can close windows, shut off water, gather pets, etc. so everyone is not running around bumping into one another. Locate water, electrical and gas shut off valves in your home and mark clearly.
5. Practice your plan just like you would a fire drill. Kids do this in school all the time now. It makes it calmer and easier to do in the real situation. If necessary, involve your neighbors in your plan so you can share resources.
6. Pick a meeting point for your family in case you get separated.
7. You can preserve refrigerated food with ice in a cooler, so it’s good to have an extra bag of ice in the freezer at all times.
The Emergency Supply Kit:
1. A gallon of water per person per day is the rule of thumb. Listen to authorities about whether or not it needs to be purified before consumed.
2. A battery operated radio to get news reports if no electricity.
3. Candles, flashlights and extra batteries, or a crank flashlight
5. Non-perishable food, and a manual can opener & plastic utencils
6. Medicine and/or baby supplies for 3-5 days
7. Fire extinguisher, gas grill for cooking
8. Comfort & convenience supplies: blankets, sleeping bags, change of clothes, cash and credit card, medical insurance cards, important documents in safe box, simple games to pass the time in a black out.
The auto kit:
1. Blanket, coveralls or extra sweatshirt
2. jumper cables, flares, triangles
3. shovel, rock salt and sand (for snow)
4. tire repair kit
6. AAA card if you are a member
(These are local numbers so make sure you have the ones for your area)
- Poison Control
- Red Cross
- Department of Health
- Electric Company
- Phone Company
- Water Company
- Out of town relatives/friends where you can stay if evacuated
Finally, I suggest you contact your county’s Department of Emergency Services for a list of instructions on what to do in the case of various natural disasters or emergencies. Keep it in a central location in the home where everyone knows where to find it. Or for more information check out http://www.ready.gov/God willing, you will never need to use these resources but if you’re prepared, even a little power outage will not feel so devastating.