Every once in a while the Lincoln News Messenger asks me to write an article about real estate in Lincoln. This time I decided to do something a little different…
Over the last 6 years or so, I have had the opportunity to work with the Boy Scouts. Recently, a number of boys in our troop started working on their Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge. Shortly after we started, the tanker fire in Lincoln took place. About a week after the dust had settled, we had the chance to meet with one of the people who had been in charge during the disaster. He spoke to the boys about what had happened and stressed the importance of having an emergency kit in their homes. Instead of giving home beautification tips or how to cut down on your utility bills, I thought it would be worthwhile to pass along some information that could be essential for every home.
One of the first things he told us was that it was important to put together a kit that would have the essentials for at least 96 hours. He was involved in operations during 9-11 and Katrina and said that 96 hours’ worth of supplies was needed before many people were rescued or evacuated. He told us that it should be in a place that is easily accessible and probably close to the car. He suggested keeping it in backpacks or in the large plastic bins you can find at the store.
One of the first things he spoke about was having cash in relatively small bills readily available. The amount may depend on your family size, but having some cash very important. Also having some change on hand could be useful.
Food and Water-He talked about having a 4 day supply of food and water per person. He said that having a box (or boxes) of bottled water would be adequate but that it should be rotated every once in a while. Food would be items that aren’t perishable, can be stored, and don’t require cooking or refrigeration. Some items that would work well are jerky, granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit, canned foods, gum, candy and dehydrated foods. I have a backpacking stove and fuel in my kit and prefer the dehydrated backpacking meals. They don’t take up much space and the kids like them. Along with your food you should think about having utensils and a simple mess kit or paper plates.
Personal items-One of the most important items would be a first aid kit. You should also have a toiletries kit for each person that includes soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, comb or brush, toilet paper or wet-wipes. Travel-size items that are available at some large retailers are perfect for your kit. Some members of your family may have needs that will require prescription medicine, extra contact lenses or eye-wear. Medications including Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, cough medicine and children’s medicine should be included. Babies will require additional items.
Shelter, Warmth and Clothing-I keep my camping supplies close by and ready to go in case of an emergency. Sleeping bags, foam pads and tents are part of my kit. Along with this, jackets, hats and gloves should be included for every member of the family. Even in warm weather these items can be useful. Each person should have a change of clothing for warm and cool weather, extra under garments, rain gear, extra socks and a sturdy pair of boots.
Additional equipment-flashlights, headlamps, extra batteries, lantern, flares, candles, lighters, shovel, radio, work gloves, rope, a roll of duct tape, pen and paper, whistle(s), dust masks, tarp, camera and other items can be added if deemed necessary. He did tell us that it could be helpful to have some simple games included. Some individuals prepare more or less items and this list is not comprehensive, it just gives an idea of some things you may want to think about.
Emergency plan-each household should have an emergency plan laid out for any time of the day. Who picks up the kids if a disaster happens while they are at school? Where does everyone meet? Communication by cell phone may not be possible during a disaster and it is good to go over everything and have a plan for every situation. “Be Prepared” like the Boy Scouts and a tough situation can turn into an event that the whole family will get through and look back on as an adventure.
Let me know if you have any ideas about emergency preparedness!