Two years ago a rogue tornado tore through my neighborhood. Eight of my neighbors’ homes were completely destroyed by the violent wind and rain. The tornado came so suddenly, Dr. D. and I barely had time to get down to our basement. We huddled in a crawlspace under our stairwell as we listened to what sounded like a freight train blowing down our street. Our power, phone and cable lines were knocked out for 36 hours. We were stunned by the devastation the tornado brought – particularly because we live in an area where tornadoes are very rare – but thankful that all of our neighbors were ok and no one was injured. At that time, I didn’t have an emergency preparedness kit pulled together. I had to rummage through the house looking for candles, flashlights and batteries. Recent news about environmental crises in the US and around the world have reminded me that Dr. D. and I can be much better prepared than we are.
On my drive home earlier this week I heard an interview on CNN with an official from FEMA. He talked about how families could be better prepared for emergencies just by assembling a handful of items that most of us already own in one central location. At a minimum, he said, we should put the the following items into a basic kit:
- First aid kit
- One gallon of water per person for at least three days
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food (such as peanut butter, canned fruit and tuna)
- Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Whistle signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air; plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Cell phone charger
The FEMA expert also advised having a family plan so that your family members know what to do and where to go should disaster strike. I have to admit that it’s scary to think about a disaster. And the reality is that sometimes there will be no way to prepare. But knowledge is power. The real value the FEMA expert’s words had for me was learning that most of what I need for a basic preparedness kit, I already have in my own home. I went home that evening and started putting my items together. It gives me some peace of mind. For a full list of items to assemble your own emergency kit, log onto FEMA’s helpful website, www.ready.gov .