Preparing a disaster kit

By Marilyn Wells - For The Yadkin Ripple

Hurricane season is here and the time to prepare is now. There is always a possibility of power outages due to natural disasters, so take the time to plan with your family today. The more prepared you are the better the family can cope if a natural disaster does occur. Make emergency plans for escape routes and meeting points ahead of time and be sure everyone understands the instructions.

To be prepared for the needs of the family keep in mind there are six basic supplies that should be available. Plan for a disaster kit to hold water, food, first aid supplies, clothing/bedding, tools and emergency supplies plus any special items that may be needed for babies, the elderly or pets. Pack in tough garbage bags and store in plastic tubs in a cool, dry area.

• Water is the most important item to have on hand. Have enough water for each family member to have 1 gallon per day (2 quarts for drinking and 2 quarts for cooking, washing dishes, etc). Children, nursing mothers, and sick people will need more. Keep a three-day supply for each person. To keep stored water fresh, change it every 6 months. Water can be kept in plastic jugs or clean drink bottles. Include coffee filters and chlorine bleach in the kit in case you run out of water. Run water through the filter and then add 1/4 teaspoon bleach to purify additional water. If the main water line was cut off before the disaster, the water in the line will be safe to drink. Keep extra water or run your bathtub full for adding to the toilet so that it can be flushed.

• Keep a two-week supply of nonperishable food in the kit. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking. Canned foods such as vegetables and fruits will have water included and can be kept for several years. Purchase foods with long shelf life and switch out cans to ensure freshness. Buy sizes that be eaten at one meal. Include protein and high energy foods such as meats, peanut butter, granola, trail mix, dried fruits and nuts. Also available are dehydrated meals which are perfect for disaster kits. Throw in some hard candy, coffee and tea for comfort. To prepare some food, you need matches in a waterproof container, charcoal, wood, steno cups or propane gas. Store these items where they would be dry and available. Remember to never use any fuel burning source within the house, due to the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.

• First aid supplies are a must for any disaster kit. Purchase enough kits for one in each car and one for the disaster kit. Add a pair of scissors, safety pins, soap, sunscreen, moist wipes and a thermometer. For prescription medication, fill ahead of time and include a pain reliever, an anti-diarrhea, vitamins and an antacid. Store all items in an airtight plastic bag.

• Clothing needs should include items that can be used in warm or cold temperatures. Bedding can be sleeping bags or just extra blankets and quilts.

• For tools and emergency supplies, include a wrench and pliers to cut off any broken water or gas lines. Pack a flashlight and a battery-powered radio and extra batteries. A hand can opener, fire extinguisher, signal flare and compass could be helpful. Pack garbage bags, paper towels, toilet paper, disposable dinnerware, needle and thread, a cell phone and tarpaulin. Add cash in case of emergency where card machines will not work.

• Special items would include baby, elderly, or pet needs. Keep personal information in waterproof, fireproof container in a safe location. Include a camera for taking pictures of damages. Insurance policies, bank account numbers, social security numbers, birth, death and marriage certificates should also be kept there.

In case of power outage for safe food storage of the refrigerator and freezer, do not open the door. Food in most freezers will stay below 40 degrees for up to three days, even in summer. You may safely re-freeze foods that still contain ice crystals or that has a temperature at 40 degrees or below. A disaster kit is to provide items to help ease the effects of a possible natural disaster.

For more information call to Marilyn Wells, Yadkin Center, NC Cooperative Extension, 336-849-7908 or Davie Center, 336-753-6100.

Marilyn Wells is an agent with the Yadkin Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

By Marilyn Wells

For The Yadkin Ripple