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.

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.

Earthquake and Tsunami International Disaster

Between the weather and the earth, hundreds of thousands people have suffered major ill effects this past week. The most devastating of these was the Magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the east coast of Japan on March 11. That was followed by a tsunami that caused more damage to Japan and rolled eastward impacting the U.S. Pacific Region.

USGS map

The EDEN network was alerted early Friday morning to the disaster and, as new reports were issued, the network was updated. We have heard from our colleagues in Guam and Hawaii. Their first reports are now posted on the EDEN site. In addition to these reports, the Tsunami page has been updated to reflect the current situation. In addition, the page provides information about tsunamis and how to prepare for them as well as what to do when a tsunami warning is sounded.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working in support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who is the lead federal agency when responding to international disasters.

Although aftershocks of 6.0 and larger continue off the coast of Honshu, Japan, no new tsunami warnings have been issued. The U.S. Geological Survey monitors earthquake activity around the world.

It’s time to move.. EDENotes at blogger.com has worked well, but we think the time has come to move the blog to eXtension. With that move, it will be easier to post articles by guests and for readers to post comments. In addition, it will keep our blog more closely aligned with our Community of Practice in eXtension. If all goes well, our next post will be from our new site.

Regards, Virginia Morgan, EDEN Chair