As the scouts say, “Always be ready”! This simple phrase can apply to the many aspects of life. Life is unpredictable, and so are emergencies.
Emergencies can strike at any moment; therefore readiness is the best tool to deal with the unexpected. As we begin a New Year, it is a good time to revisit the steps needed to prepare for an emergency. Whether man-made or weather-related, disaster can come quickly and you may be required to leave your home or office immediately or be confined to one location with little warning. Planning in advance is an important part of emergency preparedness. Gathering the supplies you will need and developing an action plan for you and your family now are essential, should an incident occur.
Assembling an emergency supply kit is a great place to start, and experts recommend that you include the following:
- Water. Each person should have one gallon of water per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
You may want to include additional items such as prescription medications and glasses, pet food and extra water for your pet, important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container, cash or traveler’s checks and change, a sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person, and matches in a waterproof container. To contain your items, you should invest in a water-proof storage trunk. Storage trunks can be bought at several retail stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, The Container Store, etc.
Once your supply kit is ready, devise an emergency plan. Include family emergency phone numbers, school contact information, an emergency meeting place, local contact information, and out-of-town contact information. Discuss the plan with your loved ones so they know exactly what to do in case an emergency arises. Make sure you plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets (if any), as public shelters often do not accommodate pets. Check with family and friends outside of your area who might be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency. And of course, make sure that you and each of your loved ones have a copy of your plan to carry at all times.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the web at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/emergency/ or call the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000.