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September is National Preparedness Month, help your family prepare

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Communities and governments routinely plan and prepare for disasters which might happen. Families also need to have a plan for dealing with anything from a spring tornado, winter ice storm, an extended power outage, or a fire.

September is National Preparedness Month, designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Being disaster-prepared includes developing and practicing an emergency plan for your family, understanding the community's warning systems, and preparing a disaster supplies kit for home, office and car.

You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days.

Basic services such as electricity, gas, water, and telephones may be cut off for days, or longer. Or, you may have to evacuate at a moment's notice and take essentials with you. You probably will not have the opportunity to shop or search for the supplies you need. I know people who live in hurricane-prone areas who routinely keep essential items and important documents in a kit where it's ready to grab and go on short notice.

A basic home disaster supplies kit might contain:

* Three-day supply of non-perishable food. Avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Include staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking or water. Include a manual can opener. Consider special dietary needs of family members.

* Three- day supply of water -- one gallon of water per person, per day.

* Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.

* Flashlight and batteries.

* First aid kit.

* Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).

* Matches in waterproof container.

* Whistle.

* Photocopies of credit and identification cards.

* Cash and coins.

* Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.

* Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.

* Other items to meet your unique family needs.

Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed.

* Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is cool.

* Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.

* Throw out any canned goods that become swollen, dented, or corroded.

* Use food before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies.

* Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.

* Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.

* Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family needs change.

* Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as a new trashcan or duffel bag.

* This information came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website, www.fema.gov/areyouready.

Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Bourbon County. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or aludlum@ksu.edu.

Ann Ludlum
FCS Agent, Southwind District
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Southwind District -- Fort Scott office. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or aludlum@ksu.edu.