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15 Preparedness Tips

The following 15 tips will help prepare you and your family for emergencies.

Preparedness Tip #1: Assess Your Current Emergency Preparedness Level

Through the assessment of your current preparedness level, you have taken one of the most important steps in preparing yourself and your loved ones for an emergency. For starters, assess the condition of fire and carbon monoxide detectors, accessibility and exit ability of doors in your house, amount of stored potable water and non-perishable food and quantity of vital medications.

Preparedness Tip #2: Create an Emergency Exit Plan and Designate Meeting Areas

Take a moment to imagine that there is an emergency in your home and you need to leave quickly. What are the best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways out of each room. Once you have written down the routes, you've got the beginning of a plan that will be expanded upon using helpful hints found in the proceeding.

Designate two areas that your family can meet in the event of an emergency. Choose one right outside your home in case of a sudden household emergency, and chose a second meeting area just outside of your neighborhood in the event of a larger incident.

Preparedness Tip #3: Designate Emergency Contacts

Careful consideration should be taken when choosing emergency contacts. Because emergency contacts can be local or outside of your geographic location, be aware that it may be easier to call a long distance contact in the event of a localized/regional disaster. After confirming that you have a willing emergency contact, be sure to share the contact's phone number with everyone in your family. During an emergency, you should call your contact who will then share with other family members where you are, how you are doing and how to get in contact with you.

Preparedness Tip #4: Prepare a Personal Emergency Contact Card for Each Family Member

Complete a Family Communications Plan (64KB) and make copies for each member of your family to carry with them. Be sure to include any pertinent past medical history, allergies and an out-of-town contact on your contact card. Visit www.redcross.org or www.ready.gov for sample emergency contact cards.

Preparedness Tip #5: Plan for Pets

Due to health regulations, most emergency shelters cannot house animals. Find out in advance how to care for your pets and working animals when disaster strikes. Pets could be taken to a veterinary office, family member's home or animal shelter during an emergency. Also be sure to store extra food and water for pets. For more information, visit the Animal Safety section on www.redcross.org or visit the Humane Society website at www.hsus.org.

Preparedness Tip #6: Review, Renew, Replenish and Rehearse

Check your Emergency Supply Kit every six months to be sure nothing has expired or spoiled. Purchase foods that are non perishable, do not require cooking and can be easily stored. During this time, a review of your emergency exit and preparedness plan should be reviewed and acted out.

Preparedness Tip #7: Educate Children on Preparedness

Check your child's school website or call the school office to request a copy of the school's emergency plan. A copy should be kept at home, at work or other places where you spend a lot of time. Incorporate the school's plan into your family's emergency plan. Teach your children how and when to call Emergency 911 and local Emergency Medical Services number for help. Post these and other emergency numbers by telephones in your home.

Preparedness Tip #8: Get Familiar with Your Company’s Emergency Preparedness Plan

If disaster strikes at work you need to be prepared. Being proactive in the preparation for emergencies is crucial. In addition to knowing multiple ways to exit your building, you should participate in workplace evacuation drills and consider keeping some emergency supplies at the office. Visit www.ready.gov and click on "Ready Business" for more information about preparedness at the workplace.

Preparedness Tip #9: Practice Makes Perfect

Conduct fire and other evacuation drills twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are blocked or gridlocked. Practice earthquake and tornado drills at home, school and work.

Preparedness Tip #10: Include Neighbors and Friends in the Assessment and Expansion of Plans, Roles and Skills

Discuss with your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency. Make note and start inventorying specialized equipment like a power generator and supplies. Determining roles and assessing skills can save time and lives in an emergency. Decide who will conduct wellness checks on elderly or disabled neighbors. By creating contingency plans, a neighborhood can create several plans of action in the event of an emergency. By combining or sharing plans a neighborhood can be better prepared.

Preparedness Tip #11: Prepare a 72-Hour Emergency Bag

Prepare and keep enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of you and your family for at least three days. This "72-hour bag" should be taken with you in the event of an emergency or evacuation. Consideration should be given to having an emergency bag in the home as well as your motor vehicle. The basics to stock in your kit should include: your emergency contact list and emergency evacuation plan, water, food, battery powered radio, flash lights, extra batteries, a change of clothing, blanket or sleeping bag, utility tool, fire extinguisher, jumper cables, dust mask, plastic sheeting, duct tape, trash bags, sanitary and hygienic products, maps, first aid kit, household chlorine bleach, tin foil, signal flair, paper and writing device, plastic storage containers, mess kits and a manual can opener. In addition to this inventory, special items for infants, elderly and ill or those who require additional assistance should be considered.

Preparedness Tip #12: First Aid Kit

First aid kits can be purchased complete or can be assembled separately. Consider having multiple kits for various places. See how your kit compares to the suggested kit below:

Adhesive Bandages (Various Sizes) Elastic Bandages Over-the-Counter Pain Medication
5"x9" Sterile Dressing First Aid Guide Paper & Pencil
Activated Charcoal Flashlight Paper Drinking Cups
Adhesive Tape Gauze Pads (Various Sizes) Prescribed Medications
Alcohol (Rubbing 70%) Hot Water Bottle Roller Gauze (Self Adhering)
Alcohol Wipes Household Ammonia Safety Pins
Antacid Hydrocortisone Cream (.5%) Salt
Antibacterial Hand Sanitizer Hydrogen Peroxide Scissors
Antibiotic Ointment Hypoallergenic Tape Soap
Baking Soda Ice Bag Space Blanket
Calamine Lotion Insect Repellent Sam Splint
Chemical Ice Packs Insect Sting Swabs Sugar or Glucose Solution
Chemical Hot Packs Matches Syrup of Ipecac
Cotton Balls Meat Tenderizer (for Bug Bites) Thermometer (Oral & Rectal)
Cotton Swabs Moleskin Tongue Blades
CPR Breathing Barrier (Face Shield) Needles Triangular Bandages
Diarrhea Medication Non-Adhering Dressings (Telfa) Tweezers
Disposable Latex or Vinyl Gloves Oil of Cloves Waterproof Tape

Preparedness Tip #13: Get and Stay Hydrated!

A three day supply of potable water per person should be stored in the event of an emergency. It is recommended that you should store one gallon of water per person per day. Considerations should be taken to account for heat and activity. Water should be stored in soft drink bottles or water jugs. Decomposable or breakable containers, such as milk cartons or glass bottles should be avoided. When purified water is not available, it is important to know how to treat contaminated water. By consuming contaminated water, an individual runs the risk contracting such illnesses as dysentery, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and all of the associated symptoms. All water of uncertain purity should be treated using one or a combination of the following treatments:

Filter: Filter the water using a piece of cloth or coffee filter to remove solid particles.

Boil: Bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute. Cool and then pour it back and forth between two clean containers to improve taste before drinking.

Chlorinate: Add 16 drops (1/8 tsp) of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water and let stand for 30 minutes. If the chlorine smell is still detected in the water after 30 minutes, it is ready for consumption. If the smell dissipates, add 16 drops of chlorine and let stand for 30 minutes. If the smell continues to dissipate, discard the water and find another source. Because flood water can be contaminated by toxic chemicals, never try to treat flood water.

Preparedness Tip #14: Locate Utility Shut-Off Valves

Some emergencies may require you to turn off your utilities. To prepare for this event, you will need to be able to locate and effectively turn off the gas, electricity and water being supplied to your house. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. All adult members of the family should know how to turn off the utilities. However, if the gas is shut off to the house, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this yourself.

Preparedness Tip #15: Get Connected, Be Informed and Stay Prepared

Engage your Emergency Management Department at the Local, State and Federal levels for resources and recommendations on how to get and stay prepared. Use public resources on the internet and preparedness brochures to help broaden your emergency preparedness knowledge. During an emergency, public messages will be publicized and it will be important for you to stay informed. Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio and portable battery operated television in addition to your battery-operated radio. It is important to regularly reassess your emergency plan, evacuation plan and inventory your supplies at least twice a year.

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