Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN

Are You Ready for a Disaster? Follow These Steps

by Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN on May 9th, 2011


gluten free emergencyFearsome tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, radiation contamination, tornados, thunderstorms, mudslides and floods are in the news.  Still, other kinds of disasters like hurricanes, house fires, wildfires, explosions, extreme heat and biological threats and are real possibilities in the upcoming months. Being ready is being smart.

Underlying any disaster is the need to prepare for injuries, lack of power, unsafe water, contaminated food, loss of clothing and loss of shelter.  www.ready.gov site says, “You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately.”

Make an emergency plan now for these three options and review it with the family:

1)       For staying in your home. Stock an emergency kit for at least 3 days use.

2)       For going to a safe location.  Pack a go-bag for at least 3 days use when you need to leave home.

3)       For your car.  Pack a travel bag for use when you can’t get home.

Make sure EVERYONE knows how to find the emergency kit, go-bag, and travel bag.

Items for a Home Basic Emergency Supply Kit from Ready.gov:

 

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable gluten-free food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place (eg. broken windows, roof)
  • Moist towelettes, bucket, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities – show family members now how to do this
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

 

Additional Items You Can Add to Your Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher that everyone knows how to use
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

 

My county (Montgomery, PA) adds to the Emergency Kit:

 

  • Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily.
  • Disposable camera
  • Tools such as a crowbar, hammer & nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench, heavy work gloves, and bungee cords to deal with house damage.

 

San Francisco’s site is easy to navigate… http://72hours.org- they add

  • 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.
  • Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
  • Make sure each member knows who your family’s out-of-state contact is and instruct them to call this person and tell him/her where they are.

 

Items for a Go-bag - Be sure your gas tank is always at least half full:

 

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable gluten-free food
  • Infant formula and diapers, if needed
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet, if needed
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes for personal sanitation
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Local maps
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

 

Checklist items when leaving home:

  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
  • Prescription medications and glasses

 

Items for a Travel-bag: same as go-bag. Refresh food weekly.

Being Ready with Food for the Long Haul…Make it a Way of Life

Buy the food you will need for survival, date it and rotate your stock so it stays useable.  Stock what your family likes and normally eats so you can keep it fresh.  Ideas are canned meat (tuna, sardines, clams, oysters, chicken, turkey, beef) canned soup that you just heat, canned beans, vegetables, fruits, canned milk, nut bars, nut butter, roasted nuts/seeds, jelly or fruit spread, crackers, rice cakes, honey, pretzels, fruit drinks in individual containers, raisins and other dried fruit, salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda (for cleaning teeth, indigestion, cleaning surfaces, etc.) and tea/instant coffee (optional). Nothing that needs refrigeration.

Growing up in the mountains of Pennsylvania we always had a garden, orchard, and grapevines to provide a cellar full of home canned foods, sauerkraut, jelly, and potatoes enough to last a year. My folks, who were born at the turn of the last century and lived through the World Wars, the Great Depression, labor strikes often lasting half a year and so on, considered being ready a rule of life.  When there was no meat, they took their family and camped along the river. Dandelions with fish and chips on an open fire…exceptionally nourishing!

Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency. Visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/emergency/index.html and http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm076881.htm

State sites such as  http://www.readynotifypa.org/ tell you what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made are most likely to occur in your area and local government can send notification to your devices such as cell phone, Iphone and e-mail.

----------------------------- Author Information: Cleo Libonati, RN, BSN Cleo Libonati is a Co-Founder of Gluten Free Works, Inc.  She is the author of Recognizing Celiac Disease. She can be reached by E-mail. 


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