Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The essentials of a disaster supply kit

It's not something you should attempt to quickly assemble with one trip to Wal-Mart AFTER the local news has issued a hurricane watch. A disaster supply kit should be fully stocked year-round, and be restocked with fresh water and food as hurricane season approaches. 

Here are some essentials of a well-stocked disaster supply kit, that's ideally placed in a "grab and go," container. In fact, because we don't know where we'll be when a disaster strikes, FEMA recommends we have three kits assembled -- one for home, work, and in our vehicle. How do your kits measure up?

Water. Include a three- to seven-day supply of drinking water in your kit; at least one gallon per person for five to seven days. Remember water for your pet(s) as well -- a half-gallon per pet, per day for five to seven days is recommended. Commercially bottled water has a longer shelf life than containers of water you fill yourself.

Food. Supply your kit with at least three meals per day, per person, for three to five days. The food supply should include canned or dry milk, cereal, snack foods, canned vegetables, peanut butter, canned meats. Remember the special dietary needs of infants and the elderly.

Medications and special needs. Remember to include a five- to seven-day supply of medications and special-needs items such as diapers and formula for infants. A two-week supply of medications is recommended, too.

Personal items. What would make a weeklong evacuation more tolerable for you and your family? Make room in your disaster supply kit for personal items. They may include personal hygiene items, toilet paper, and a change of clothes for each evacuee.

First aid kit. Prepare a kit that contains supplies ready for use in the case of a minor medical incident. Include items such as aspirin, latex gloves, sunscreen, first-aid tape, bandages, a thermometer, tweezers and antiseptic ointment.

Other necessary items. Round out your stocked disaster supply kit with other essentials, such as flashlights, matches, a portable AM/FM radio, a severe weather radio, flashlights, a manual can opener, cleaner/disinfectant and wash cloths, flares and jumper cables, and important papers in waterproof plastic bags or containers and cash.

A couple times a year, check your kit for expired or missing items, replace them, and keep the kit in an accessible place in your home. Hopefully, you'll never have to load it in the car on your way out of town, but if you do, you'll be prepared for the week ahead and better able to handle the crisis at hand.

7 Ways to Prepare Your Home During Hurricane Season

With hurricane season underway as of June 1, no one in Florida is immune to the possibility of heavy winds sending trees through windows, or the front doors flying off their hinges. It's a simple truth: The force of nature can be quick and punishing. Not only can homes be significantly damaged, treasured keepsakes and belongings also can be destroyed when rain causes internal damage to the house, too.

Many hurricane-preparedness and weather websites advise readers to stock up on canned goods, gather items for a survival kit and cover all windows. These tips are important, but there are many preparations to ensure that your home itself is secure as well. From purchasing homeowners insurance to pruning shrubs and trees in the yard, you can lessen the risks of losing your investment during a hurricane.
Here are seven tips to prepare your home during a hurricane season when the severest weather strikes:
Limit the amount of debris around your home by pruning trees and shrubs in the yard. A hurricane can carry debris into your house destroying windows and more. Pruning the yard will reduce the amount of flying debris and maybe prevent significant damage.
Create a list of all items in the yard that should be stored inside during the storm. Storing all outdoor furniture and appliances inside can save money and time, keeping them from causing damage outside your or another's home, and the possibility of replacing it later.
Remove leaves and clogs from gutters to prevent flooding. Water damage takes a long time to repair. Clearing gutters is a simple yet important step to prevent flooding caused by their backlog.
If there's a hurricane watch, turn up the settings on the fridge and freezer to the coldest temperatures. The food inside will stay colder, longer, in the event of a long-term power outage.
Avoid windows to void flying glass! When it's time to hunker down, secure your family in a room or an area of the house that's windowless. This is the safest place to be when a severe storm hits.
Use clean bathtubs and jugs to store clean drinking water. A steady supply of clean water will come in handy for consumption, bathing and cleaning if water lines in your community are disrupted.
Know where and how to evacuate. Local officials may set up shelters or evacuation routes in your community in the case of an emergency. Know this information ahead of time. Consult the Volusia County Emergency Management's website at www.volusia.org/storm for tips, local shelter information and evacuation routes in case of severe weather.
Every hurricane is different, but with these tips, you will see the hurricane season through knowing you did all you could for the best possible outcomes. Preparation is time well spent.