After a major disaster, the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration, and telephones, may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days.
Spring in Minnesota marks the start of tornado season. During the past couple of years, there have been some major storms and tornadoes that we've been through or to which we've been very close.
In the basement during the 2008 tornado.
The house had some damage and needed a new roof and siding.
About 10 minutes south of here, over 50 homes were destroyed
and a child died...many more people were injured.
So, this week, for the Preparedness Challenge, I looked at last week's participants and one of them, Falling Like Rain, had a list of items for an emergency kit. I thought this would be a good starting point and give me something to assemble over the next month.
I've modified it to fit our needs, and marked the items with an * for what I already have on hand. Although I may have some of the items on the list (e.g., food, first aid kit) they aren't yet set aside specifically for the emergency kit, so until that is done, I won't mark the item on the list with a *.
At-Home Emergency Kit
A large, watertight container to hold everything (it's recommended to store the kit in an easily accessible location. One idea was to put everything in a large, plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels so it can be moved easily)
Canned fruit* (canned peaches and pears in jars from Summer 2010)
Jam* (homemade jam in jars)
Non-fat dried milk
Copies of important documents
First Aid Kit (see section below for more information about contents in a First Aid Kit)
Manual Can Opener
Clothes and Rain Gear for each person
Heavy Work Gloves
Disposable camera (for recording damage)
Unscented liquid household bleach
Feminine Hygiene Products
Heavy Duty Plastic Bags
Battery Operated Radio/Batteries
Phone that plugs directly into the outlet (not cordless)
Permanent marker, paper and tape (to leave a note if you decide to evacuate)
Disinfectant (spray, wipes)
Items for pets and horses/livestock (see section below for information about pets)
Notes regarding food:
- Mark a rotation date on any food container that does not already have an expiration date on the package.
- Most canned foods can safely be stored for at least 18 months. Low acid foods like meat products, fruits or vegetables will normally last at least 2 years. Use dry products, like boxed cereal, crackers, cookies, dried milk or dried fruit within six months.
- After a power outage, refrigerated food will stay cold longer if you keep the door closed. Food should generally be consumed within 4 hours. Food in the freezer will normally remain safe for 2 days.
Go-Bags (one per person)
Backpack to hold it all
Flashlight and Glo-Stick/Batteries
Change of clothes/hat/rain gear
Water/Food (see above)
Permanent marker, paper, tape
Photos of family members (in case you are separated)
Lists - emergency point of contact numbers
Identification and list of any allergies
Copy of health insurance cards
Small First Aid Kit
Small Sewing Kit
Toothbrush and Paste
Extra Keys (house, car)
Small books, games or puzzles
Camping Utensils (spoon, fork, knife)
This week for the Preparedness Challenge, I also read about water. There have been many times over the years when we have been without water - due to the electricity being out (after a storm) or the time that my brother and I accidently hit the water line when trying to install a water line from the outdoor well to the barn.
Going without water for a week was a huge challenge, but thankfully a neighbor was gracious enough to allow me to get containers of water and take a shower as needed.
Sophia drinking water from a disposable cup.
Here's some information about water that I thought is important. It's from the 72 Hours website.
In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. Store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days.
Store one gallon of water per person, per day. Three gallons per person per day will give you enough to drink and for limited cooking and personal hygiene. Remember to plan for pets (and horses/livestock, in our case).
If you store tap water:
Tap water from a municipal water system can be safely stored without additional treatment.
Store water in food grade plastic containers, such as clean 2-liter soft drink bottles. Heavy duty, reusable plastic water containers are also available at sporting goods stores. Empty milk bottles are not recommended because their lids do not seal well and bottles may develop leaks.
Label and store in a cool, dark place.
Replace water at least once every six months.
If you buy commercially bottled “spring” or “drinking” water:
Keep water in its original container, and don’t re-store a bottle once it’s been opened.
Store in a cool, dark place.
If bottles are not marked with the manufacturer’s expiration date, label with the date and replace bottles at least once per year.
Treating Water after Disaster:
If you run out of stored drinking water, strain and treat water from your water heater or the toilet reservoir tank (except if you use toilet tank cleaners). Swimming pool or spa water should not be consumed but you can use it for flushing toilets or washing.
Strain any large particles of dirt by pouring the water through layers of paper towels or clean cloth. Next, purify the water one of two ways:
Boil – bring to a rolling boil and maintain for 3-5 minutes. After the water cools, pour it back and forth between two clean containers to add oxygen back; this will improve its taste.
Disinfect – If the water is clear, add 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water. If it is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon. Make sure you are using regular bleach— 5.25% percent sodium hypochlorite— rather than the “ultra” or “color safe” bleaches. Shake or stir, then let stand 30 minutes. A slight chlorine taste and smell is normal.
Items for a First Aid Kit
Two pairs of disposable gloves
Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect
Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
Over-the-counter medicines such as Aspirin or other pain reliever, laxative, anti-diarrhea medication
Prescription medications you take every day or frequently (e.g., asthma inhaler)
Prescribed medical supplies (e.g., nebulizer with albuterol sulfate). Need to figure out how to use this when there's no electricity since the nebulizer relies on electricity.
Plan for Pets in an Emergency Disaster
These ideas are from the 72 Hours website as well:
Keep a collar, current license, and up-to date ID tags on your pet at all times. Consider having your pet micro-chipped (both the dogs are micro-chipped, but the cats are not at this time).
Make sure your pet is comfortable being in a crate, box, cage, or carrier for transport.
Keep an updated list of trusted neighbors who could assist your animals in case of an emergency.
Make a Go-bag for each pet. Include:
Sturdy leashes and pet carriers. A pillowcase is a good option for transporting cats and other small animals (though each of the cats has her/his own transportation bin, in our case). Muzzles for dogs. Food, potable water, and medicine for at least one week.
Non-spill bowls, manual can opener, and plastic lid
Plastic bags, litter box, and litter
Recent photo of each pet
Names and phone numbers of your emergency contact, emergency veterinary hospitals, and animal shelters
Copy of your pet’s vaccination history and any medical problems
Portable fencing or baby gates
Remember that animals react differently under stress. Keep dogs securely leashed and transport cats in carriers or pillowcases.
If your pet is lost, contact the nearest animal shelter to report your pet missing. When it is safe, return to your neighborhood to search and distribute “Lost Pet” posters; include a current picture of your pet.
In the case of livestock/horses, it's important to have enough feed and/or alfalfa on hand. Extra bedding (straw or wood chips) should be stored in your barn.
With regards to water, after experiencing multiple power outages and no water for extended periods of time, I have always kept the stocktanks, heated water buckets, or waterers full. Especially if I hear about a major storm approaching, I make sure all the tanks are full. In that way, there is a good supply of water right on hand.
Having one Go-Bag per livestock species would be sufficient (e.g., a pack for horses, sheep, chickens).