By: Kevin Onishi, Community Engagement Specialist, Keiro
Ask any Boy Scout in his tan-colored uniform what the Scout motto is and he should reverently reply, “Be Prepared.” While this simple two-word motto is imprinted onto the mind of any boy who has participated in the scouting program, most people take for granted the importance of this motto’s connotation. “Something like that will never happen to me” or “I don’t have time to do that, someone else will take care of it for me” are both common answers one might hear in conversation about emergency preparedness. However in recent history, the United States has had its share of natural disasters like the Moore Tornado, Hurricane Sandy, and recently the California wildfires. With multiple major earthquake faults looming in our backyards, we are constantly being reminded of the next “big one.”
Realistically we all have way too much on our plates to begin to even worry about the next big natural disaster. We have work, our families, maybe even a round of golf with the buddies. Then when it comes to our own personal health, we spend our time and effort going to the gym, getting ready for “beach season,” or reading up on the newest studies in diabetes prevention. These aren’t bad things and I actually encourage you to invest your time in these. However the point is, emergency preparedness is something we always put on our back burners. That is why September is National Preparedness Month – so we can be reminded that all the things we do to take care of our personal health will go to waste if we do not prepare ourselves mentally and physically for a natural disaster. Let’s be honest, if we can dedicate the month of March to watching 64 collegiate basketball teams, we can dedicate the next few minutes reading the rest of my post.
When a natural disaster hits, we use the basic training we learned in school to protect ourselves. If there is an earthquake, we get underneath a table or doorframe. If there is a fire, we stay low to the ground and find the nearest exit. Other information on creating emergency plans can be found on the Ready.gov website (http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan).
But what do you do after you are safe from the disaster? Do you have a list of all your daughter’s medications? What are you going to do about water now that the water lines are shut down? This is where your emergency preparedness kit will come into play. While generic emergency preparedness kits that you can buy from places like Target are great, they do not have the unique items you and your family may need. Please take the time to read the list below, gather the materials, and modify the list as you see fit.
1. Water – your kit should include at least one gallon of water per person per day, for a minimum of three days. So for a four-person family, you should have at least 12 gallons of water stored away. I recommend using gallon jugs versus the small 16-ounce bottles in case you have to refill them. Remember to include additional water for family pets.
2. Food – your kit should include a minimum of three-days’ worth of non-perishable food. This means time breaking out the canned foods and ditching your grandma’s homemade tsukemono. If you have canned food, please remember to have a can opener handy. Also include additional food for pets.
3. Radio – your kit should include either a battery-operated or hand crank radio. For obvious reasons, if it is battery-powered please remember to store extra batteries. Radios are useful to gather information when you do not have access to your Twitter feed or television. Some radios are also solar-powered and can double as a charging station for your cell phones.
4. First aid kit – your kit should also include a small first aid kit that can assist in basic medical assistance. Band aids, sterilizer, tweezers, gauze, and aspirin are all handy and do not require extensive training to use. For life-threatening injuries, please seek assistance from a trained medical professional.
5. Whistle – your kit should also include a loud whistle to use to signal for help.
6. Dust masks/plastic sheeting/duct tape – your kit should also include dust masks, plastic sheeting, and duct tape to help protect yourself from exposure to contaminants. In some emergencies, there will be a lot of dust and a mask will help filter some of the particles. Plastic sheeting and duct tape can be utilized to build a makeshift shelter to protect you.
7. Moist towelettes/trash bags/zipties – your kit should include moist towelettes, trash bags, and zipties to use for personal sanitation. You may not have access to a bathroom in the aftermath of a disaster.
8. Wrench or pliers – your kit should include a wrench or pliers to turn off any utilities. After a natural disaster, you may need to shut off any water or gas lines in your building. These cannot be shut off with your bare hands.
9. Local maps – your kit should include a map of the local area for you to navigate to Red Cross or evacuation locations. Plan on not having access to Google Maps or Waze on your phone. You should also have basic knowledge of how to read and orient a map.
10. Backpack/duffle bag – your kit should be stored in some sort of backpack or duffle bag. In an emergency, this bag can be grabbed on your way out of your home or office building.
These are the basic items recommended by Ready.gov. Remember, everyone’s needs are different, so please feel free to modify the supply list as you build your kit. Stay prepared!
About the Author:
The material presented on this site is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the opinions of Keiro, or its contributors. Readers should consult appropriate health, legal, or financial professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. Full disclaimer