National Preparedness Month

19 September 2023

Did you know that September was National Preparedness Month?  Neither did I.  However, considering the tragedy that occurred in this country on September 11, 2001; hurricane season is looming, and winter is just around the corner, it makes a lot of sense.

A natural disaster is an event that is caused by an environmental event (like a severe storm, excessive heat or cold, or other rapid situation) that can or does cause injuries, death, or property damage.  A human-made disaster is one that include technological issues, transportation accidents, failures in public entities, and severe problems with production.  There are also hybrid disasters which is a combination of natural and human controlled.

There is no universal definition of a disaster and, in fact, there are various criteria, classifications, and data that go into declaring a disaster, but they all have severity as a common factor.

There are some basic items that you can assemble and keep in airtight plastic bags and then stored in some sort of portable container like a duffel bag or bin with a lid.  If you have a safe room or other secure space, a duplicate can be kept there. Some of these items can be gathered and kept with no problem.  Others you will need to check and replenish from time to time and some you will only be able to gather at the last minute.  As you will tell, some of these items are general purpose, some are in the event of an evacuation (even to a motel for a couple of nights until the power is back on, etc.), and some are for sheltering in place.

  • It is recommended to allow one gallon per person to include drinking and sanitation.
  • Non perishables like granola bars.  If you stock canned goods, remember a manual can opener.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
  • NOAA weather radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries in various strengths
  • This will be louder than a human voice to signal for help
  • Face masks
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to secure door gaps if there is contaminated air
  • Trash bags and twist ties. Not just for refuse but for personal sanitation
  • Moist towelettes, hand sanitizer, dry towels
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities if necessary
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blankets, folding chairs or other lawn furniture to sit and sleep on
  • Local maps (cell towers may be damaged and GPS unavailable on your phone)
  • Cell phone and chargers plus back up battery.
  • Store phone numbers in writing and somewhere other than your personal cell phone.
  • Prescription medications and over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-diarrhea, etc.
  • Back up eyeglasses and/or contact lenses
  • Clothing, including underwear, more for children or babies, and sturdy shoes
  • Pet supplies and food, plus extra water and bowls
  • Paper and pencil
  • Driver’s license or other ID
  • Books, games or other activities for both children and adults

Rethink your needs every six months to correspond to the major seasons and to accommodate personal and family changes…kids grow.  Keep duplicates in your car, office, work, vacation property, etc.  If you have relatives or close friends in other states, designate someone as a central contact or hub for communications.  Amateur radio operators (hams) are known to travel to areas where large disasters have occurred.  Seek their services to transmit messages to loved ones about your safety.

It all centers around being aware and being as prepared as possible.  Many communities have a disaster planning or emergency preparedness department as part of their services.  Check with them about specifics for your needs.

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