Disaster Kits-How To Prepare For Storm Season
Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall
Spring has sprung! We've endured a long winter inside; anxiously awaiting the spring thaw, longer days, and warmer temperatures. However, along with the onset of spring come many other changes as well. Not only is it the new beginning of life for trees and flowers; it is also the beginning of the rainy season and the potential for severe weather. Since the entire United States is affected by severe weather of one variety or another, it's important to have an emergency kit put in place before it's necessary.
April Showers Sometimes Bring More Than May Flowers
April is Tornado Awareness Month. While every state in the country has been affected by tornadoes, there is one area in the central U.S. where the risk is especially high. Because of its geography, it's a prime location for super cell storms to form, and tornadoes to strike. This area is referred to as "Tornado Alley". This is where the majority of severe weather occurs most regularly because of the cold, dry air from Canada and the Rocky Mountains meeting the warm, humid air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. Whether you reside in this region or in an area less plagued by severe weather, at some point in time you will be in need of Emergency Kits which will help you ride the storms out a little easier.
Some Things To Consider When Planning Emergency Kits:
Flashlights/Batteries - If you've ever been affected by a storm which has left you in the dark without electricity, you quickly realize how vulnerable you can feel when you have no idea where the flashlights are. You know where they're supposed to be, but they're not there. You need to keep a few hidden away in an Emergency Kit for just such an occasion; and where they'll be easily located. It is equally important to keep tabs on your battery supply as well (especially if you have kids who have battery "emergencies" when their remote control dies, or mp3 player goes dead.) Nothing is more frustrating than reaching for a full pack of batteries only to discover that the only thing remaining is the empty plastic wrapper that once held them.
Battery Operated Radio - When the power goes out, so does the majority of your contact with the outside world. If ever there was a time when something could be "too quiet", this would be that time. This is when hearts sink, pulses race, and tempers begin to flare. You have no idea how bad the situation is, and you can no longer just turn on the TV to see the Doppler radar and what's happening outside. This is when people find themselves rushing to find their disaster kits in search of a backup radio. Battery operated radios or crank radios will be one of the best investments that you have ever made in a situation like this. Again, make sure that you have the proper sized batteries to fit these portable devices.
Whistles (on lanyards) For Everyone - This is an outstanding idea for "extreme" weather conditions. In case you are separated from your family or become trapped, you'll be able to be heard and can be located or rescued if need be. The high pitch of the whistle will carry further than the human voice using the same amount of effort.
Standard or Custom-Designed First Aid Kits - These can be as simple as a box of bandages, antibacterial wipes and gauze bandages; or can be as elaborate as a portable triage unit. Obviously the larger the assortment of first aid supplies, the better off you will be in case someone sustains a more severe injury. At the very least, your kit should include bandages, gauze pads, anti-bacterial wipes, surgical tape, surgical gloves, antibiotic cream, small scissors, tweezers, and a pain reliever. I've always subscribed to the logic of "I'd rather have it and not need it; than need it and not have it."
Bottled Water, Healthy Snacks, Manual Can Opener - After a severe storm hits, it feels like you're being forced to go camping, and "rough it" without all the modern conveniences that you've come to know and love. It's important to have pre-planned emergency food supplies available. Bottled water is one of the most commonly used emergency essentials. Individual juice boxes, granola bars, raisins, and crackers are a few non-perishable yet kid-friendly ideas to take the edge off of those growling tummies. Make sure that you have a manual can opener tucked away also. These little gems are often overlooked, but most people have a stash of canned goods somewhere. Unless the cans are equipped with a pull-tab, you will need a manual opener to be able to get into them.
Pet Supplies - If you think your kids get cranky without their snacks, just wait until Fluffy or Spike figure out that they don't have anything to munch on. You'll have a mutiny on your hands if you try to eat beef jerky in front of your dog. Most grocery stores sell small boxes or bags of pet food that will be the perfect size to store away for a while. A 2-in-1 (food and water) dish is also a cheap investment for your furry friend. They'll thank you for it, too.
Spare Medications - It is a good idea to put aside a week or so worth of medications and add these to your emergency gear. This includes even the allergy pills that you take periodically and the pain reliever for when the arthritis starts acting up.
Cash/Rolls of Quarters - When there's a wide-spread power outage that covers entire cities, you won't be able to access any money through ATM machines. The machines located in the affected areas won't be working; and the machines located nearby will either be overcrowded; or more than likely, empty from all the other people who had the same idea. If you have the ability, try to keep $100 or more tucked away without having to use it for daily living. Whatever you can afford to stick away will certainly be helpful when everyone else is in panic mode. Rolls of quarters are very handy as well. They can be used for pay phones when cell phones are inoperable
Notebook, Pens, and Permanent Markers - These should all be kept in a bag with a zip close seal, as pens will not write on wet paper. The pen and paper will be a great way to pass time for little ones who would like to play tic-tac-toe, hangman, or just doodle. If you end up leaving your home in favor of another destination, the waterproof marker will not run if it gets wet from rain, and it's bold enough to be seen from great distances and will write on any surface.
Spare Shoes, Slippers, or Flip-Flops - I know this sounds like a crazy suggestion, but there is no way you'll be able to get into stores to buy anything without shoes on your feet. Every store has the ever-popular "No shirt, No shoes, No service" policy. Make sure some adult has some kind of footwear tucked aside just in case of such an emergency.
Disposable Cameras - A disposable camera is a good way to document the damage to your home or belongings. The insurance companies will want you to show proof of your loss so they can reimburse you appropriately. If you have pictures of "before" the damage as well as "after" the devastation, it will be easier for you to get a fair settlement if and when you need to file a claim.
The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow………
These ideas are suited for those people who are just simply trying to ride the storm out, or are in a power outage situation. If you live in an area that is known for its weather, you'll want to put together a much more elaborate kit to help yourself get through the long process of cleaning up and rebuilding your lives. Hopefully you won't not need this information; but as the saying goes…"Luck favors the prepared." The majority of these supplies can be found at your local dollar store (even the pet supplies). It's much easier to go out at your own leisure, and pick up a flashlight here, and a pack of batteries there when there's no rush; rather than to go out and invest a pocketful of money all in one trip when there's a severe storm on the horizon and a line-up at the checkout.