Weather Wednesday – The Family Go Kit

From time to time on Weather Wednesday we will step away from purely meteorological topics to address preparedness. This week we’ll discuss one of the most basic preparedness items, a personal or family Go Kit.

A Go Kit should be assembled and customized according to individual needs following some general guidelines from FEMA. Be sure to look under the tabs for additional suggested items.

AP_fairdale_tornado_14_sk_150410_16x9_1600Let’s look at some of the items which should be included:

Water, one gallon per person per day for three days for drinking and sanitation. For long term storage the crystal clear containers hold up better, but water and food stocks should be rotated out regularly.

Food, a three day supply of non-perishable food. If using canned food, be sure to include a can opener. Specialty meals designed for use by campers are also a good option. Check preparation instructions to be sure you have all of the necessary equipment.

Battery powered, hand cranked and/or solar powered radio capable of receiving NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio and standard broadcast. Carry extra batteries.

Flashlight and extra batteries. Batteries will generally last considerably longer in LED flashlights.

Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 -- A Red Cross "ready to go" preparedness kit showing the bag and it's contents. Red Cross photograph
Red Cross via FEMA

First aid kit. A good basic kit will suffice unless special needs are involved.

Whistle to signal for help. A small air horn is also a good addition, but you can’t beat a whistle for convenience. It takes less volume of air to blow a whistle than to yell which can be important if one is trapped by debris. A whistle or horn also has a better chance of being heard over heavy equipment.

Dust mask.

Plastic sheet and tape if asked to shelter in place.

Local maps. Remember, familiar landmarks may be destroyed in some disasters.

Cell phone with chargers, inverters, solar power, charging packs, etc. Note, avoid using accessories such as the built in flashlight which tend to run down the battery rapidly.

Prescription medications and glasses. Setting aside medication can be problematic so work with your physician and pharmacist to see what can be done.

Cash and change. If the power is out or communications lines down, ATMs will be out of service.

Copies of insurance papers, account numbers, etc. Do keep these in a special place in the kit so you can keep track of them.

Infant formula, diapers, pet food, etc if applicable. Include a leash for your pet and count their water needs as well.

Change of clothes. Err on the side of warmth and waterproof items.

A couple of items recent experience has shown to be very valuable. Sturdy shoes or boots. Sandals and flip flops are not at all useful when walking through debris. If you have identified a shelter area in your home, you might want to keep the spare shoes/boots there.

Bicycle helmets or hard hats may also be useful if easily accessible to your shelter area.

Remember a Go kit should be able to do just that, pick up and go, should the need arise. It is important to temperate the desire to plan for all contingencies with the practical need to perhaps carry the kit for some distance. Kits are also available from retailers, but make sure to customize to your needs.

5 Things to do to be Hurricane Ready

Post by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant

With the first hurricane of the season in the East Pacific Ocean approaching Central America and the Atlantic Ocean clear for now, there is no better time to begin preparing. There are 5 important steps to follow now when preparing for hurricane season.

1. Build an emergency kit
This should be done before a hurricane is forming, so plan ahead and buy a few things every time you go to the store. Do not wait until the last minute to buy supplies for your kit, they may not be available! To find out what to put in your emergency kit by visiting redcross.org. Dog at table, "Where's the plan?"Also don’t forget your pets while making emergency kits. The ASPCA and PetMD provide good overviews of what should be in a pet emergency kit. Ready.gov also provides great information on preparing your pet for emergencies.

2. Make a plan
Your family should have an emergency plan prepared and in place long before NOAA announces a tropical storm or hurricane. Make sure in this plan you include where your family plans to evacuate to if necessary. If you plan to evacuate to friends or relatives make sure they are aware and correctly prepared to house (not the word I wanna use, but can’t think of another one) you and your family should the need arise.  Check out this free printable checklist from getbuttonedup.com. What tasks can you check off in twenty minutes a night for a week?

3. Know your surroundings
Check the area you live to see if it is prone to flooding from storm surges and rains. If it is make sure insurance will cover any flooding that might occur this hurricane season. Research the local evacuation routes and how to get to them. If an evacuation becomes mandatory the routes might become extremely congested or difficult to reach. Can you identify an alternate route? Being prepared beforehand and confident of the location of the routes will make the evacuation much smoother. If you don’t live on the coast, you still might be affected by hurricane evacuations. Is your community a destination for evacuees?

4. Plan to secure your belongings
If a hurricane becomes imminent and threatening, it might be necessary to move some of your belongings to better protect them. If you discuss this ahead of time, the stress of moving them can be reduced. You will want to bring in all outdoor furniture and anything else that might blow away. If you have antique or sentimental pieces of furniture and your house is prone to flooding, or you think it might, moving those pieces to a higher level will better protect them. You can also take inventory of your belongings ahead of time, either by pictures or pen and paper. This will better help the insurance company assess losses.

5. Prepare your property
There are things you can do around your house now to better protect your property from wind or rain. Trim dead limbs or branches off trees and bushes to make them more wind resistant. Clear gutters of debris. Install storm shutters on your windows. These are permanent and prevent breaking. If you plan on riding the storm out, buy or inspect your generator to insure that it is working properly.

Even though hurricane season is just beginning, it is never too early to get prepared! Check back next week to see what you should do once a hurricane is formed and approaching!

p.s.  Here are homeowner handbooks from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.

Family Preparedness Friday

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Emergencies Affect All of Us, Including Our Pets

If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. When planning your family for disaster, don’t overlook the needs of your cherished family pets. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or any of the all hazards depends largely on emergency planning done today.

September is National Preparedness Month (NPM); while you make a plan to prepare your families also consider your family pet. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the un

If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR #PETS BEHIND! Read this short #blog post about what to do with your animals in case of a #disaster. #familypreparednessfriday #dogs #cats

expected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals

If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive alone and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.

If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency. Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends, and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for your pets, if you are unable to do so.

For more information, check out: