Friday, September 09, 2005

Personal Disaster Readiness

Like many Americans in the days after September 11, 2001, I gave thought for the first time to emergency preparedness. I was not old enough to remember Cold War bomb shelters, so preparing for an attack on my community was something new for me.

In a few days, it will have been 4 years since those attacks and I am no longer prepared. My supply of bottled water has expired, the stock pile of canned goods has been eaten, and the batteries have disappeared into various toys around the house.

Hurricane Katrina is a reminder that individual citizens need to take some responsibility for our emergency preparedness. We cannot place all of our reliance on governments to come immediately to our aid. As part of my remembrance of September 11, I will replenish and improve my store of emergency supplies.

My sister and I did some brainstorming the other day, and here is our starting list:

  • Bottled water (enough for 3 days, and don’t forget enough for any pets)

  • Battery/crank-powered radio with light

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Matches

  • Non-perishable food (including dry legumes, canned meat and vegetables)
  • Can-opener (non-electric of course!)

  • Ziploc bag with passports, birth certificates, car titles, insurance policies etc.

  • Vaccination/health records/Rx

  • First aid supplies

  • Important family photos (baby pictures etc)

  • CASH (in small bills)

I am packing these supplies (except the water) into a backpack that I could grab quickly in event that I needed to leave my home in a hurry. I will also make sure the children know where it is kept. (Some additional supplies might be useful for shelter-in-place…I hate to even mention duck tape!)

The National Capital Area Region Emergency Preparedness Campaign has a preparedness check list that you may find useful:

My mom would probably say this is alarmist, but nothing is lost by being ready. I hope I never have to grab that backpack and go.

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