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Jun 11, 2008

Be Prepared For Natural Disaster

It is best to put two disaster kits together: one for your car in case a disaster strikes while you are away from the house, and another (supplementary) for the house. The kit for the road should include enough supplies for 2-3 days, and the kit for the house should include enough supplies for 5-7 days.

Find a bag, preferably a backpack (in case your car becomes disabled and you need to walk) to hold all of the supplies.
Consider supplies in the categories of clothing, food, shelter, and safety.
Be prepared to dress in layers so you can add or remove clothing depending on the weather. Be sure to pack long and short sleeve shirts, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, good walking shoes and socks, and a wind-breaker rain jacket. Additional items can be added/ removed according to the season and type of potential disaster in your area, such as thermal underwear, sleeveless shirts, or water/canoing shoes (shoes that make it easier to walk in water).
Pack non-perishable items that are easy to eat, such as protein or energy bars, and canned snack-sized fruit. Be sure to pack enough water.
Pack a sleeping bag and tent for shelter, and pack some money for both kits.
Pack a flashlight and a battery-powered radio for safety. Consider purchasing solar or crank rechargable lights and radios, and maybe some glow sticks. Candles should only be used if there is no possibility of gas leaks and always place them where they can be watched so that they do not cause a fire.
Consider buying an LED headlamp. LED lights last a LONG time on batteries, and a headlamp leaves both of your hands free to cook, do dishes, read, or many other things.
For the house kit, pack additional food and water and know what important items you want to take with you if you need to evacuate.
Realize that you can not count on water from your tap, and water can be contaminated, so you need to store enough water for drinking, and additional water for cooking (if you have a camp stove), flushing a commode, and washing.
Have a waterproof, fireproof lock box where you keep all of your important papers. In case of emergency, you can grab the box and go.
Make a list of items that you would grab if you have time to evacuate (photos, family heirlooms). Keep the list with your other disaster kit items.
Include a supply of necessary medications and rotate them to keep them fresh.
Place the kit in an interior closet or basement if you're in a tornado-threatened area, and on a higher level if you are concerned about flooding or earthquakes.
Don't forget your pets, and be sure to have enough food and water for them. (In fact you can prepare kits for your pets to! Be sure to include, a package of food, water, a portable carrying cage, and anything else your pet would need in a safe, accessible place.)
Lastly, don't forget cash. Make sure to have cash in small bills such as ones, fives and tens. This is crucial in case ATM machines are disabled and banks are closed. Also, many convenience stores do not accept large bills.

If you live in an area prone to disasters that cause extended power outages seriously consider keeping a portable generator on hand. The generator should have a capacity of at least 5700-watts - this will power the whole house except central air-conditioning. If you have time to prepare, fill at least six, 5-gallon plastic gas containers with gasoline to power the generator. Gasoline is one of the first commodities to become scarce in an emergency - so plan ahead.
If you have room, consider adding something to heat water to your pack for hot beverages or instant add-water only foods (oatmeal, pasta, rice, etc). Don't forget waterproof matches, a camp stove, a pot, and possibly a can-opener.
Check out camping supply stores near your house or on the web for items and ideas. There are emergency supply kits that have the essentials of high-energy bars and water packs that you can buy that can help remove the guesswork from what to pack.
Make sure there are no leaky pipes, or any other fire hazards.
Have a place you know is safe to go during an earthquake
Lighting and info.: Consider purchasing self-powered radios and lights. The newer lights of this type use LEDs to conserve power and the radio will keep you informed of any complications, such as a fire, explosions following a quake, tornado. Also consider the purchase of light sticks as well. Candles are not a option if there are gas leaks, other flammable, explosive gas has been detected. If candles are used at all, they have to be watched, so that any fire danger can be mitigated, especially if children are present. Both the self-powered lights and self powered radios and light sticks may be found at the local Wal*Mart and Radio Shack.

If you have a generator, be sure it is installed properly. If it is feeding power back into the electrical grid outside of your home it could injure or kill utility workers who are attempting to restore power in your area.
If you are outside during an earthquake, stay away from poles and buildings, and lay flat, covering your head with your hands.
if you use candles, DON'T use them if there are gas leaks, explosive gases in the area, and IF you do, unless there is a gas leak, explosive gases, make sure it is placed SAFELY to AVOID FIRE, and watch them in case there are children around, so they do not get knocked over and start a fire. Get and use "Glow sticks" instead, use candles as a last resort for lighting needs. IF you smell gas, hear any "hissing noises" near you, especially around a gas line, DO NOT USE CANDLES.