First off, happy Memorial Day to all the veterans out there! If you see a veteran today, stop and say thank you. If you are a veteran, then let me take this opportunity to do the same. Thanks for your service and patriotism. In our last segment on planning for emergencies, we talked about all the things that can go wrong. For this segment in this three-part series on how to survive an emergency, let’s discuss some of the items you need in order to better prepare yourself for an emergency, whatever type it might be.
What is the average person supposed to do to get ready in advance? The answer may be much simpler than you might think. The first thing you should do when preparing for an emergency is to get a kit. A decent, inexpensive place to start might be the Grab and Go Premium Emergency Kit. These kits are often called Go Bags, Bug‐Out‐Bags, Grab Bags, or a 72‐hour kit. A comprehensive guide to building your bug out bag can be found here. What goes in your Bug‐Out‐Bag is up to you. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following.
- Water, one gallon of water per person 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 wet wipes 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
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charge
Other considerations you might take are proper protective clothing. If your area is prone to floods then add a pair of rubber boots or waders to walk in. If in a high-threat area for terrorist attacks, consider a full NBC gas mask like the MIL-1200. Don’t forget to change out the filters as they do expire.
Having a well-stocked Bug-Out-Bag is only part of being a fully prepared individual. Having a plan for what you are going to do in an emergency situation is often times just as important. Consider your area and possible threats that are more likely to occur in your region. People who live along the coast are more likely to consider hurricane related emergencies than people who live in tornado alley. Identify an out-of-town contact; it may be more effective to call long distance than across town depending on the situation. An out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Be sure everyone in your family knows the phone number and has a means to call it. If you have a cell phone, program that person as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. Emergency personnel will often check for ICE listings in order to get in touch with someone you know. Make sure everyone knows how to text. Many times a text message will get through a bogged-down phone system when a phone call will not. You can also subscribe to an automatic text message alert service that will send you vital information during an emergency. Depending on the type of emergency, you have to make the decision to either evacuate or shelter in place. You should have a plan for both possibilities. Local authorities may or may not be able to provide you with current information; however you should keep paying attention to television, Internet or radio broadcasts in case new information becomes available.
Being prepared for an emergency is something that should be done by everyone. Government and local authorities may not be able to get to you and your family in time and you may have to fend for yourself for several days. Staying informed and stocked with supplies is the best way to ensure your loved ones will get through any disaster with relative ease.