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Friday, 02 August 2013 15:38

Disaster Preparedness Costs Little, Saves A Lot

LINCROFT, N.J. -- Just as every home should have a smoke alarm, every home should have an emergency supply kit packed and ready. Being prepared doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

“Although federal, state and local governments are ready to assist the public during times of emergencies and disasters, you should be prepared to take care of yourself and members of your family for the first 72 hours – that’s three days – following a disaster such as a hurricane, severe winter storm or an ice storm,” said Gracia Szczech, FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer for New Jersey. “A big part of disaster preparation is knowledge and FEMA has developed a comprehensive guide to help folks prepare.”

FEMA’s disaster preparedness website, www.ready.gov is a destination site for information about getting your family prepared for a disaster.

Commercially available disaster kits can range from $75 to $300 and up, but most of the pieces of a disaster kit are already in the home and just need to be gathered together and stored in one place.

An emergency preparedness kit needs to include food and a minimum of one gallon of water for each member of the family, including pets, per day 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.

Your kit should include important family papers such as wills or property deeds and 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, food and medications for family pets.

It’s helpful to have cash in case banks are closed and there is no power for ATMs.

Remember, many shelters will not accept pets, so make sure you have a plan that protects all your family members.

The emergency supplies can be stored in an easy-to-carry plastic storage container or sports bag, making them easy to grab and go when an emergency forces people to leave their homes.

Experts agree being displaced during and after a disaster is especially difficult for children and the elderly.  

The loss of familiar surroundings, schools, favorite toys and pets all contribute to the sense of loss.  Including a few favorite toys or stuffed animals in the kit can help with this, but parents should be alert for behavior changes which can be an indication of stress.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.