09 August 2012

Disaster Preparedness

It is quite alarming that even monsoon rains can create such wide-scale disasters and can affect all of us.  The other night, while watching the news, Mickey told me that we really have to build that disaster kit urgently.

Since we are building ours, we would like to share with you what should be in a disaster preparedness kit and how to plan during emergencies for each of your family members and even your pets.  This is quite a long list, but being prepared can save your lives and of others:

Household Disaster Kit
After a major disaster some services may be unavailable, such as water, electricity and communications. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, water tight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily.

Your basic emergency kit should include:
1.    Water
One gallon per person per day. If you buy commercially bottled “spring” or “drinking” water. Keep water in its original container, and don’t re-store a bottle once it’s been opened.  Store in a cool, dark place. If bottles are not marked with the manufacturer’s expiration date, label with the date and replace bottles at least once per year.
2.    Food
Ready to eat or requiring minimal water. Store food items that are familiar, rather than buying special emergency food. Consider any dietary restrictions and preferences you or your household members may have. Ideal foods are: shelf-stable (no refrigeration required), low in salt, and do not require cooking (e.g. canned fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, jam, low-salt crackers, cookies, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, canned soup or meats, juices and non-fat dry milk). Mark a rotation date on any food container that does not already have an expiration date on the package. Whenever applicable, include baby food and formula or other diet items for infants or seniors. Store the food in airtight, pest-resistant containers in a cool, dark place. Most canned foods can safely be stored for at least 18 months. Low acid foods like meat products, fruits or vegetables will normally last at least 2 years. Use dry products, like boxed cereal, crackers, cookies, dried milk or dried fruit within six months.
3.    A manual can opener and other cooking supplies
4.    Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
5.    First Aid kit & instructions
6.    Copies of important documents and phone numbers in a sealed plastic envelope
7.    Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member
8.    Heavy work gloves
9.    A disposable camera
10.  Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
11.  A blanket or sleeping bag
12.  Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
13.  Any special-needs items for children, seniors, people with disabilities and pets - Don’t forget water and supplies for your pets

A Go-bag is a component of your disaster kit. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly. Prepare one Go-bag for each family member and make sure each has an I.D. tag. You may not be at home when an emergency strikes, keep some additional supplies in your car and at work, considering what you would need for your immediate safety.

1.   Flashlight
2.   Radio – battery operated
3.   Extra batteries
4.   Whistle
5.   Dust mask
6.   Safety goggles
7.   Rain coat
8.   Neon vest with reflectors
9.   Life vest (for those who live or pass through flood-prone areas)
10. Safety hat
11. Pocket knife
12. Emergency cash in small denominations and coins/public phone call card for making phone calls
13. Sturdy shoes and a change of clothes
14. Some water and food
15. Permanent marker, paper and tape
16. Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
17. List of emergency point-of-contact phone numbers
18. List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
19. Copy of health insurance and identification cards
20. Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
21. Prescription medications and first aid supplies
22. Extra keys to your house and vehicle
23. Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities and also, don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets.

First Aid Kit
In any emergency, you or a family member may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. Keep the following basic first aid supplies so you are prepared to help when someone is hurt.

1.   Two pairs of disposable gloves
2.   Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
3.   Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect
4.   Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
5.   Burn ointment
6.   Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
7.   Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
8.   Scissors
9.   Over-the-counter medicines such as Aspirin or other pain reliever, laxative, anti-diarrhea medication
10. Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine, or asthma inhaler
11. Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose monitoring equipment or blood pressure monitors

For Children

1.   Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety.
2.   Teach your children their basic personal information so they can identify themselves and get help if they become separated from a parent or guardian.
3.   Prepare an emergency card with information for each child, including his/her full name, address, phone number, parent’s work number and out of city contact.
4.   Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get to them.
5.   Regularly update your child’s school with current emergency contact information and persons authorized to pick up your child from school.
6.   Make sure each child knows the family’s alternate meeting sites if you are separated in a disaster and cannot return to your home.
7.   Make sure each child knows how to reach your family’s out-of-city contact person.
8.   Teach children to dial their home telephone number.
9.   Teach children what gas smells like and advise them to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency.
10. Warn children never to touch wires on poles or lying on the ground.
11. Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses such as evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll.
12. Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured.

Kit for every child should include:
1.   Include a family picture and a favorite toy, game or book for each child in his/her Go-bag.
2.   Include your child’s emergency card and include information on reunification locations and out-of-area contact.
3.   Provide comfort food and treats for each child in your family disaster supplies kit.
4.   Keep a recent photo of your children in your Go-bag.

Seniors & Disabled
1.   Set up a Personal Support Network: Designate someone to check on you in an emergency and to help with evacuation or sheltering-in-place.
2.   Prepare and carry with you an emergency health information card: This will help you to communicate if you are found unconscious or incoherent. Include information about your medications, adaptive equipment, blood type, allergies and sensitivities, insurance numbers, immunization dates, communication difficulties and preferred treatment, as well as contact information for your health providers, personal support network and emergency contacts.
3.   Personal Care Assistance: If you receive assistance from a home healthcare agency or in-home support provider, find out how the provider will respond in an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
4.   For Persons Using a Wheelchair: Plan for how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup.
5.   For Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Keep an extra cane by your bed. Attach a whistle; in case you need to attract attention. Exercise caution when moving, paths may have become obstructed.
6.   For Persons who are Hearing Impaired: Keep extra batteries for your hearing aids with emergency supplies. Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly after a disaster.
7.   For persons with Communication Disabilities: Store paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board and preprinted key phrases in your emergency kit, your wallet, purse, etc.

1.   Keep a collar, current license and up-to date ID tags on your pet at all times.
2.   Make sure your pet is comfortable being in a crate, box, cage, or carrier for transport.
3.   Keep an updated list of trusted neighbors who could assist your animals in case of an emergency.
4.   Tighten and secure latches on birdcages. Fasten down aquariums on low stands or tables.

Make a Go-bag for each pet, include:
1.   Sturdy leashes and pet carriers. Muzzles for dogs. Food, potable water and medicine for at least one week
2.   Non-spill bowls
3.   Plastic bags, litter box and litter
4.   Recent photo of each pet
5.   Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters
6.   Copy of your pet’s vaccination history and any medical problems

1.   Remember that animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs securely leashed and transport cats in carriers.
2.   If your pet is lost, contact the nearest animal shelter to report your pet missing. When it is safe, return to your neighborhood to search and distribute “Lost Pet” posters; include a current picture of your pet.

Locate all your animals and keep them with you. Be aware that shelters will only allow service animals. In a large-scale disaster, animal shelters will be set up when possible.

If you must leave your pets behind:
1.   Inform animal rescue workers of your pets’ status: On your front door or in a highly visible window, use chalk, paint or marker to write the number and types of pets in your residence. Include their location in your home and the date that you evacuated.
2.   Leave plenty of water in a large, open container that cannot be tipped over.
3.   Leave plenty of food in timed feeders to prevent your pet from overeating.
4.   Do not tie up your pet in your home.

Talk with your family about potential disasters and why it's necessary to prepare for them. Involve each member of your family in the planning process. By showing them simple steps that can increase their safety, you can help reduce their anxiety about emergencies.

1.   Make sure everyone knows where to find your disaster supply kit and Go-bags.
2.   Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone’s bed in case there is an earthquake during the night. Use a plastic bag tied to the leg of the bed to keep these items from moving during an earthquake.
3.   Plan where to meet after a disaster if your home becomes unsafe. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate. Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full.
4.   Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
5.   Make sure each member knows who your family’s out-of-city contact is and instruct them to call this person and tell him/her where they are.
6.   Locate the water main and other utilities and make sure family members know when and how to turn them off.
7.   Practice your evacuation routes, Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll drills.
8.   Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.
9.   Create emergency response cards for each of your family members.
10. Take into account the special needs of children, seniors or people with disabilities and pets.

Please build your emergency kits and Go-bags urgently and pass on this list to family members and friends so that they may also be prepared for any disaster.

Keep safe everyone.

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