Here in Alabama, residents are no strangers to natural disasters. Civic histories of many cities and towns throughout the state include references to natural disasters such as fires, tornadoes and hurricanes.
Alabamians know they must be prepared. Every home should have a smoke alarm; every home should have an emergency supply kit packed and ready.
What not everyone realizes, however, is that being prepared doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster preparedness website, www.ready.gov is a destination site for information about getting your family prepared for a disaster.
“FEMA urges residents of every community in every state to Be Informed, Have a Plan and Prepare a Kit,” said Albie Lewis, federal coordinating officer for the Alabama recovery. “Each of these may be critical in a family’s ability to recover from disaster. A family preparedness kit, particularly, is one of the most important tools at your disposal to keep your family safe in a disaster.”
Commercially available disaster kits can range from $75 to $300 and up, but most of the pieces of a disaster kit already may be in the home and just need to be gathered together and stored in one place.
“The rule of thumb for residents who are survivors of a disaster is that they should be prepared to take care of their family’s needs for the first 72 hours after a disaster strikes,” says Art Faulkner, director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency. “It may take that long for responders to get to you.”
FEMA recommends that an emergency preparedness kit include food and water for each member of the family for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, non-electric can opener, local maps and personal sanitation items such as hand sanitizer, moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties.
Water supplies should be sufficient to meet both health and sanitation needs.
Family emergency kits also should include important family documents such as wills or property deeds, personal identification and any prescription medicines a family member may be taking.
Other items to consider include sleeping bags or blankets, paper towels, books, puzzles and games for children, pet food and medications for family pets.
It’s helpful to have cash in case banks are closed and there is no power for ATMs.
The emergency supplies can be stored in an easy-to-carry plastic storage container or duffel bag, making them easy to grab and go when an emergency forces people to leave their home.