“The best preparation for the future is the present
well seen to.” - George McDonald
Since 9/11, Rita Ready had a plan
for her family in case of a terrorist attack:
everyone was to head to Aunt Alma’s in the country and
call Momma in Mississippi as soon as they were safe.
Good for Rita; she’s more prepared than most of us.
But while the average American has a one in ten million
chance of being killed by a terrorist, we have a one in
68,000 chance of dying at the hands of Mother Nature.
What Rita doesn’t know could hurt her.
September is National Preparedness Month, a nationwide
effort sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security to encourage Americans to take simple steps to
prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and
The most time-consuming and important activity is
formulating a plan and gathering information.
Make a Plan
Each person’s needs are unique, but we all should begin
with the basics when preparing for a possible emergency
situation. Think in order of importance: fresh water,
food and warmth. Consider the following:
What resources do I (or those I care for) use daily,
and what can we do if they aren’t available?
Get an emergency supply kit
Plan in advance for shelter alternatives outside
your immediate area in case you need to evacuate.
Consider any pets, and make plans for them.
Be sure to have at least a week’s supply of any
medications or treatments in your
Make copies of important documents for your
emergency kit. Keep these in a
The Emergency Kit
So you’ve got a plan; now for the kit. Most of the
preparation for your family emergency kit can be done,
thank goodness, while you go about your regular day.
Adding basic items like bottled water, flashlights and
batteries to your shopping list requires few brain
cells. It helps to have a designated collection
site where you can dump stuff as you collect it—one of
those flat, under-the-bed plastic storage boxes works
First the basics:
Water: you’ll need one gallon per person, per
day. Enough for three days. Use
pre-bottled or put clean plastic soda bottles to
Food: have a three-day supply of non-perishable food
that doesn’t require cooking or water. Avoid
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Dust mask, to filter contaminated air
Moist towelettes and garbage bags for personal
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Can opener, if using canned food
When I made our family’s kit, I added a deck of cards, a
long-burning emergency candle and feminine products.
If your home is like mine and often shelters three or
four generations, consider the needs of the very young
as well as the elderly: diapers and infant
formula. A great resource is www.ready.gov.
They have a comprehensive section of ideas for every
Because our family lives less than a mile from a
railroad track and within a couple of miles of an
interstate, I chose to follow the plan for the
‘shelter-in-place’ on the web site, basically guidelines
for sealing a room in your home to block out airborne
contaminates. Statistically, our family has a
greater chance a semi-truck or railcar accident will
spill chlorine gas or some other hazardous material than
of terrorist-released small pox. If you live in an
urban setting or a densely populated area, decide what
your family’s biggest risk is, and plan accordingly.
By making a plan and an emergency
kit for your family and those you care for, you can have
one less thing on that checklist in your mind. These
easy steps will leave anyone responsible for the care of
others prepared, and that preparation will breed
confidence; a confidence that you have one less thing to
worry about. And that can ease the burden on your
shoulders just a bit.
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