The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”. The Langlade County Health Department takes that message seriously and so should you. Planning and preparing for emergency situations requires you to think through situations in advance before the emergency is upon you so that you are able to face challenges and survive the event. What would you do if you were affected by a prolonged power outage or stranded due to severe weather, and had no food, water, or other supplies to get you through the crisis? How long could your family survive without electricity, heat, transportation, or the ability to communicate with the outside world? What if there was a fire and you had to evacuate your dwelling quickly? These are the types of questions that you need to ask yourself and your family when preparing for emergencies.
The first thing that you should do is discuss these issues with your family. Communication is important in any emergency and discussing these issues beforehand allows for a more effective response. Make sure that everyone understands what role they play and what needs to be done in an emergency situation.
If you need to evacuate your building quickly, have an evacuation plan ready. Family members and pets must be located quickly and be ready to evacuate the area as planned. If time and safety permit, retrieve important documents such as insurance papers, medical information, and the names and contact information for friends and other family members that you may need to contact later. It is a good idea to have copies of any important documents stored in another location such as with a trusted friend, family member, or in a safe deposit box in case the originals are destroyed. Have medications in one easy to locate area, as well as car keys, cell phones, and other personal items that you may need to take.
If you become stranded in your home due to inclement weather, or experience an extended power outage, you should have a survival kit available. These kits are prepared ahead of time and contain various items you may need if you are without electricity, water, or heat for a prolonged period of time. The kits should include a three day supply of drinking water (1 gallon per family member per day, not including pets), canned foods, dry cereal and crackers, juices, paper plates, cups, and utensils, baby food or formula, and pet food if you have pets. Other items include a portable radio, batteries, candles, matches, a flashlight, blankets, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, paper towels, toilet tissue, feminine hygiene products, diapers, first aid kit, and over-the-counter medication such as pain relievers and vitamins. If using a portable heating device, remember that these units must be properly vented to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. The emergency kits should be stored in a cool dry place in large sealable containers. Rotate the supplies once or twice a year and check the “use-by” dates in order to keep items fresh.
The items that I listed may or may not fit your purposes and do not take into account all possible types of emergency situations, but the idea is to think about what you will need and then prepare accordingly. It is important to start a family discussion on these topics and form a plan. Remember to include the children or grandchildren (they might have fun assembling the survival kit), and make concessions for your pets or other animals. Surviving an emergency can be a challenge, but with effective communication and proper planning, you can be just as “prepared” as a Boy Scout.