12 Ideas for Emergency Preparedness in 2017
There never seems to be a good time to focus on emergency preparedness, particularly when heading back to work following Christmas and New Year’s. There is a seemingly endless list of important resolutions to keep, bills that need to be paid, etc.
Taking preparedness a little at a time, focusing on one piece each month, taking “small bites” each week will have you well on the road to recovery before a disaster even occurs.
Following is an example of how you can break down your preparedness journey into 12 areas:
- Water Storage
Start with arguably the easiest item to store, but definitely the most precious. Even our children know that we can only go three days without water, so get some! The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends one gallon a day per person, which is just for survival. For cleanliness and hygiene, you will need more. Buying cases of water or filling up approved plastic bottles and storing them could make a difference.
Other ideas: Fill up five-gallon water container(s) in your garage or shed. Also, study up on ways to purify water, because your stored water may eventually run out.
- Go Kit/96-hour kit
You may have heard the terms Bug-Out Bags, Go Kits, 96-hour Kits…they’re all the same. It is highly recommended that you create at least one for each of your family members. A quick search online will confirm that everyone is different as to what they want/need in their kit. Whatever you decide to include, plan on living out of that kit for up to 96 hours, so include water, food, clothing, shelter, medications, and anything else you think you may need.
Other ideas: As time and money permit, put together three kits for each person in your household, one for home, one for the car, and one for work/school. Following a recent truck roll-over on I-15 near the 7200 South ramps, because the truck contained HAZMAT, the freeway was closed in both directions, traffic was at a standstill, and many people spent an extended period of time in their vehicles. Having a kit(s) in the car would make that time more comfortable.
- Three–Month Food Supply
Take a look at what you and your family normally eat throughout a month, then start purchasing and storing these food items a case at a time. If you cannot buy an extra case, just buy an extra can during your regular grocery trips. Before you know it, you’ll have enough to sustain you for three months. These should be food items that you eat on a regular basis as part of your normal, daily diet. And because these are not long-term storage items, remember to rotate them to avoid spoilage.
Other ideas: Develop and maintain a list of recipes that your family will eat, based on the food items in your storage.
- Financial Reserve/Emergency Fund
A speaker at a Sandy City Citizen Corps meeting recently shared his experience in Nepal during the earthquake in April 2015. Addressing the audience, he pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket and declared, “Cash is king.” Cash was absolutely crucial when he needed get out of the country and back home. It is always good to have a little cash set aside where you can get to it, whether it’s a wad in your pocket or a container where you toss your coins at the end of the day. While you may be able to access electronic funds during a disaster, there is always a chance that those electronic methods may not be available. Having some cash set aside will help, no matter the nature of the disaster.
How much you’ll need to save depends on your needs and family size, but the important lesson is to put aside some when you can, keeping in mind what you might need to purchase following a disaster, such as food, water, gas, a hotel room, etc.
Other ideas: Don’t store all of your money in one location. Spread it around: some in your home, some in your car, and some with you. And, if possible, protect cash from potential heat or water damage.
- Long-Term Food Storage
Food items to store long-term include beans, rice, wheat, and other dry goods (such as sugar, salt, cooking oil, etc.). These items, when packaged properly, can last 20-30 years and will still be able to sustain you. Determine your needs and store the amount you and your family require. When possible, work these items into your normal, daily meals.
Other ideas: Store items that you will actually eat, and learn to prepare them. For example, learn to grind wheat for flour, and learn to bake with that flour.
- Communications Plan
With the technology today, we are able to communicate with just about anyone we want with the touch of a button. Following a disaster event, communication infrastructure (cell towers, electricity, etc) may not be completely functional. In this case, you may not be able to scramble and come up with a meeting place and plan when disaster strikes. Therefore, it is best to decide with your family in advance where you will meet. If that location is destroyed, do you have a secondary location? If cell service is overloaded and you can’t make a local call, do you have a person out of state that you and members of your family can call to use as a communications hub? Many times, when local lines are unavailable, long distance still works.
This is a preparedness tip that doesn’t require multiple trips to the store or extensive preparation. It may only need a few conversations to make a crucial decision that will make you far more resilient in case of a disaster.
Other ideas: In your plan, include everyone’s phone numbers, social security numbers, important medical information including medications, work and school locations, locations you frequent often, and copies of important documents and important phone numbers, i.e., your insurance company.
- Household Items
Just as you would store food, it is important to also store daily household and sundry items. These could include hygiene supplies, such as tooth brushes, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, etc. It’s also best to include items with multiple uses, like duct tape, medications, bleach (unscented), vinegar, charcoal, pots/pans/utensils, can opener, lighters, etc.
Much like the principle of food storage, if you can’t buy all of these items at once, try to buy one extra item during your regular shopping trips.
Other ideas: In case of an extended power outage, you might consider including manual utensils in your inventory such as a wall-mount, hand-crank can opener, coffee pot with percolator, meat grinder, grain mill, classic timer, butter churn, Coleman camp oven, etc.
Like household items, gather equipment that can be used without electricity. Initially, do an inventory of your camping/outdoor equipment. You may at some point have to leave your house (earthquake for example) and campout in your yard. Confidence in the outdoors will make this an easy adjustment, especially if you are equipped to do so. Store a variety of fuels for heating/cooking, including charcoal, propane, and firewood. Learn to use these methods. Add tools to your list, as well as nuts, bolts, nails, and screws. Have an axe, maul, and splitting wedge to cut firewood. While there are the big ticket items like a generator that will provide power to your refrigerator and/or freezer, lighting, power tools, etc – these can be a bit cost-prohibitive for some and require extra fuel storage.
Other ideas: Learn a skill such as woodworking, blacksmithing, leatherworking, knitting, etc.
Don’t forget your furry kids! Often during disasters, people will stay with their pets rather than evacuate to safety. Have a plan for your pets. Create a safe haven and choose designated caregivers where your pet can be housed. Remember your pet(s) in your food and water storage plans; build 96-hour kits for them too. Maintain copies of their registration and shot records.
Other ideas: Call Sandy City Animal Services 801-352-4450 regarding pet disaster planning.
- First Aid
In the event of a disaster, no doubt there will be many injuries of varying degrees. It is important to remember that YOU will be the first responder. You should have basic first aid knowledge and supplies. Add first aid supplies to your inventory. If you lack First Aid experience, there are many resources available to provide the necessary training, including scouting programs for youth, in person classes, online resources, etc.
Other ideas: Sandy City Fire Prevention Division teaches Community Emergency Response Team classes four times each year. Included in these free classes are two modules on basic first aid, as well as a module dedicated to CPR and AED training. For information or to sign up for a CERT course, call 801-568-2944.
If you become displaced because of a disaster or other event, having a place to go such as a Red Cross shelter, a relative or friend’s home, or even a tent in your backyard, will all be dictated by the nature of the event. Sheltering in Place (SIP) may be an option, but if not, have a plan in the event of an evacuation.
Other ideas: There is a lot of information online dedicated to SIP, or how to care for yourself and family in a sheltering situation. Make some time to gather information.
Be sure to include clothing in your inventory. Keeping a variety of sizes and rotating the items is important, particularly if you have children in their growing stages. Also, remember to change with the seasons. Having to resort to your storage in January and finding summer clothing will add to an already stressful situation.
Other ideas: Create a reminder on your calendar or electronic task list each quarter to check your clothing inventory and adjust as necessary.
These are 12 areas to get you started on the road to emergency preparedness. Don’t do everything at once, space them out over the weeks and months, as suggested. You can choose to focus on just one area per month, or a mix of preparation throughout the year. The key is to do something in one of these areas, even if it’s just one thing a week.`
Of all the resolutions and improvements you can make in this New Year, better emergency preparedness will help you protect you and your family if disaster strikes.
If you have questions regarding preparedness, contact Jeffory Mulcahy, Sandy City Emergency Manager, 801-568-7279 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or checkout these websites for preparedness ideas: