For the second time in three years, I’ve had to think about my family’s disaster preparedness plan. I live in North Carolina and the last few days have been nerve-wracking as we watched Hurricane Irene hit the coast. It’s not the first time. Two years ago a rogue tornado tore through our neighborhood. Eight of my neighbors’ homes were completely destroyed by the violent wind and rain. The tornado came so suddenly, Dr. D. and I barely had time to get down to our basement. We huddled in a crawlspace under our stairwell as we listened to what sounded like a freight train blowing down our street. Our power, phone and cable lines were knocked out for 36 hours and our yard was destroyed by uprooted trees. We were stunned by the devastation the tornado brought – particularly because we live in an area where they are very rare – but thankful that all of our neighbors were ok and no one was injured. Two years ago I didn’t have an emergency preparedness kit pulled together. I had to rummage through the house looking for candles, flashlights and batteries.
- First aid kit
- One gallon of water per person for at least three days
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food (such as peanut butter, canned fruit and tuna)
- Battery-powered or hand-cranked radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Whistle signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air; plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Cell phone charger
FEMA experts also advise having a family plan so that your family members know what to do and where to go should disaster strike. The good news for most families is that much of what you need in an emergency kit you already own. For a full list of items recommended items log onto FEMA’s website, www.ready.gov .