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.

Earthquake Warning in Oklahoma

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Oklahoma Geological Survey have issued a rare Earthquake Warning for a potential magnitude 5 or above quake for the state of Oklahoma.  How rare?  This is the first earthquake warning ever for a location east of the Rocky Mountains.

183 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or higher were reported in Oklahoma between October of 2013 and mid-April 0f 2014.  Up to 2008, the long term average was just 2 a year.
The surveys say that past experience has shown that clusters of smaller earthquakes often precede a quake of magnitude 5 or stronger.  Oklahoma experienced a damaging 5.6 magnitude earthquake in 2011.  14 homes were destroyed and two people were injured.

Scientists are studying a possible correlation between the increasing use of deep injection wastewater wells used in connection with hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry  and the increase in the frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Earthquake SafetyThe Federal Emergency Management Agency has a very good earthquake preparedness website .

In addition the USGS has preparedness tips.

A consortium of organizations from earthquake prone California has a seven step preparedness guide.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has a downloadable game that can help families learn about earthquakes together.

Earthquakes can and do occur in every one of the 50 states so the current situation in Oklahoma provides an opportunity to review our personal, family, institutional and business plans.

2012 Great Central U.S. Shakeout February 7

Has the earth moved beneath your feet lately? When I checked the USGS site this week, there were 935 earthquakes recorded for the past eight days in the 48 conterminous states, Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Those earthquakes in the conterminous (great word!) states occurred from California to Massachusetts.

The 2012 Great ShakeOuts begin in February with the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. On February 7, more than one million people will participate in the ShakeOut. Other states, British Columbia, Guam, and New Zealand will hold their ShakeOut events later in the year. Regardless of when the event is held, all have a common message. When you feel that first jolt, immediately Drop, Cover and Hold On.

What can you do to help your communities?

  • If you live in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, or Alabama,  encourage your audiences to participate in the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut— it is free and open to the general public.
  • Teach audiences how they can become resilient and resistant to earthquakes. Youth groups can focus on science (what causes earthquakes) and staying safe during an earthquake. Adults can be shown how to taking steps to protect property and homes from an earthquake can actually be good practice for normal times.
  • Partner with EMA (select your state and drill down to find the local office) or Public Safety department to host an earthquake drill.
  • Model good preparedness practices. Make sure your home, office, family and colleages know the drill and are prepared.