Guest Author - Victoria Abreo
Its 3:00 a.m. You are told to evacuate your home--fast. There is no time to gather items from your home. All you have are the clothes on your back; events are happening so fast, and all you want to know is where do you go to find help? As we have seen with the disaster of hurricane Katrina, it is hard to think what each of us would have done in that horrific situation even if the majority had an emergency kit it was probably washed away. Many, I am, sure had an emergency plan but in such a catastrophic event, many of their previous plans did not and could not be applied. Now is the time to consider the worse case sonairio as in the case of Katrina for rethinking your emergency plans.
Have a community meeting and first, have a fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Last week my daughters elementary school raised $800.00 one young student a third grader donated $100. 00 out of her own savings account. We all can do something even if everyone just gave $1.00, think of how that would add up and provide aid for those in need.
Then discuss in your community meeting the current events of Katrina and if your community needs to rethink their emergence plans. Also, involve schools in your area and local churches you attend.
Topic to discuss:
As a community talk about how to be ready ahead of time. Urge everyone to keep a disaster supplies kit. Check with neighbors or coworkers who are disabled. Offer your assistance in the event of a disaster. Suggest that you keep an extra copy of special items such as medicines or special equipment that a person in your area may need. The needs of older people often are similar to those with disabilities. Talk about how to inform people of an oncoming disaster and how you as a community can get each individual to safety maybe your church bus can be used in such an event. See about getting a key to a person's house such as elderly or disabled person so you can provide assistance immediately. Identify how you will contact each other and what action will be taken. Remember your cell phone may not work for days or weeks following the disaster. Also remember, help is not around the corner as we may have previously thought.
In preparing for an emergency you should also consider that many of your neighbor’s family and friends may not be prepared or their own supply kit might get lost so pack extras in your own kit, this can include diapers or formula, for families with young children. Even if you have no children, you might come across a mother who needs such supplies. In addition, remember pets need an emergency kit to.
According to the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, we should have these items in our Disaster Supplies Kit:
Blanket and extra clothing
Infant and small children's needs (if appropriate)
Medical supplies and first aid manual
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries
Shovel and other useful tools
Money and matches/lighter in a waterproof container
Map of the area (for locating shelters)
Disinfectant, household chlorine bleach
Non-electric can opener, utility knife*
Keep at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person in the disaster kit. If you live in a rainy or cold weather climate, also consider including an extra set of thermal underwear, hats and gloves, or rain gear. Sleeping bag should also packed.
These items should be stored in a container that is easy to locate and carry. If the container is not waterproof, place individuals items in sealed plastic bags. The kit should be stored in a safe, secure area that will still be easily accessible in the event of an emergency. Check the contents of your kit every six months and replace items as needed food, water, outgrown clothes, and weak batteries.
As we have seen clean water was nowhere to be found in these devastated areas. So what would you do in such a situation? According to the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, here is what you can do to find water resources and how you can purify your water.
You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh and learning how to purify contaminated water should be among your top priorities in preparing for an emergency.
Your hot water heater tank could supply many gallons of safe water during an emergency. Before and I repeat before using water from the water heater, switch off the gas or electricity which heats the water. After turning off the power source, let the water cool. When you want water, place a container underneath and open the drain valve on the bottom of the tank. Do not turn the water heater on again until the water system is back in service.
If you are not sure your water supply is not contaminated, purify your water before using it for drinking. If the water contains sediment or floating material, strain it through a cloth before purifying it. Boil water at a rolling boil for ten minutes to kill any disease-causing bacteria. Add a pinch of salt to each quart of boiled water to improve the taste. In addition, boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.
There are many ways to purify water. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Any of the following three chemical treatments will purify water.
Bleach Liquid, household bleach that contains sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) and will purify water. Add two drops of bleach per quart of water (four drops if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not taste and smell of chlorine at that point, add another dose and let stand another 15 minutes. It is important to know, however, that not all bleaches are the same for purifying water. To be safe and most effective, use "regular" full-strength bleach containing 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite (read the label). Do not use scented bleach; it is not 5.25 percent strength, and it is more likely to have an off taste. Use the following table as a guide for adding bleach. Stir to mix completely.
Percent Add per
Chlorine gallon water
1% 40 drops
2 to 6% 8 drops
unknown 10 drops
People may be concerned about potentially harmful effects of chlorine in drinking water. Many water-quality professionals agree that the benefits of chlorine in eliminating life-threatening drinking water problems far outweigh the shortcomings, in emergency as well as nonemergency situations.
Iodine - Household iodine from the medicine cabinet will purify water. The iodine should be 2% United States Pharmacopoeia (U.S.P.) strength. Add 20 drops per gallon of clear water and 40 drops per gallon of cloudy water.
Water purification tablets - Water purification tablets will also purify water. These tablets are available at drug stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Waterbeds hold up to 400 gallons, but some waterbeds contain toxic chemicals that are not fully removed by many purifiers. If you designate a waterbed in your home as an emergency resource, drain it yearly and refill it with fresh water containing two ounces of bleach per 120 gallons.
If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and do not stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
More Rigorous Water Purification Methods
While the three methods described above will remove only microbes from water, the following two purification methods will remove other contaminants.
Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right side up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
To make filter, punch holes in the bottom of a large bucket, and put a layer of gravel in the bucket about 1-1/2 inches high. Cover the gravel with a towel cut in a circle slightly larger than the bucket. Cover soil with a towel, place the filter over a large container, and pour contaminated water through. Then, disinfect the filtered water using one of the methods described above. Change the soil in your filter after every 50 quarts of water.
Food: Have a two-week supply of food on hand of nonperishable food in your disaster kit. Choose foods that are easy to carry, high in calories, nutritious and ready-to-eat. Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and the elderly, nursing mothers may need liquid formula, juices, and soups may be helpful for the ill or elderly. Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition.
For emergency cooking, you can use a fireplace, or a charcoal grill or camp stove outdoors only. You can also heat food with candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label first.
It is also important that you keep a copy of any important records in a waterproof, portable container. These records should include: Wills, insurance policies, deeds, other important legal documents Account numbers for banks and credit cards numbers Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
If you are interested in learning more about how to prepare for emergencies, contact your local or State Office of Emergency Management, or write to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, D.C. 20024, and ask for any of the following publications:
Emergency Preparedness Checklist (L-154) Item #8-0872
Are You Ready? Your Guide to Disaster Preparedness (H-34) Item #8-0908
Emergency Preparedness Publications (L-164) Item #8-0822