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How Prepared Are You...Really?

Emergency (pl. –ies) - a sudden, urgent, usually unexpected occurrence or

occasion requiring immediate attention.

About half of all Americans say they now have a disaster supplies kit, the other half do not. In which half are you? Less than half of all Americans have an evacuation plan, more than half do not. In which half are you?

There are 163,000,000 dogs and cats in the US, yet 65% of their owners have no plan to keep their pets safe in an emergency. More people die in fires than in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and all other natural disasters combined, yet 85% of parents in a recent poll said they do not discuss fire safety with their children. 72% of Americans think they have a 3-day supply of water, but only 23% know that each person needs one gallon of water per day in an emergency situation.*

Begin to get the picture? Okay. Most of us are not really prepared for an emergency. Let’s get down to what it takes to survive an emergency: preparation, preparation, preparation. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security lists 30 Tips for Emergency Preparedness.

I’ll summarize DHS’s key tips and offer a few of my own that should be on everyone’s list:

• Have a plan, write it down, make sure everyone has a copy, rehearse it:

- how to get out of the house or apartment

- where to meet nearby, where to meet if you can’t remain nearby

- choose an emergency contact person out of the area, store the

name and number on your cell phone(s)

• Keep emergency supplies handy, enough for at least 72 hours

- important documents, credit cards, back-up cds, money, coins

- extra sets of keys (car, house, safety deposit box, etc)

- flashlights/lighting, portable AM/FM radios; preferably self-powered

- food and water (human & pet), emergency distiller and/or filtration device(s)

- extra set of clothing & shoes, extra blankets/sleeping bag(s), backpack

- first aid kit

- pet first aid kit and thermometer

- prescription and non-prescription drugs

- portable toilet (preferably a dry toilet) and toilet paper

- cell phone charger, preferably hand crank

- evacuation kit(s) (see below)

• Keep key survival tools handy (in or near evacuation kit)

- ABC type fire extinguisher(s)

- gas shut-off tool

- pocketknife, whistle, compass, waterproof matches

- ax, shovel, pry bar

- escape ladder for every floor above first

- smoke/evacuation hoods (one/person, 20 minutes of air)

• Be prepared for bird flu and/or biological contaminates; all of the above plus:

- N-95 (or better) face masks, preferably enough for at least 2 weeks/person

- Tamiflu (see your physician)

- surgical gloves

- hand sanitizer

- additional food & water

• Evacuation Kit – one per person; can include some of the above, be

creative, think ahead

- sturdy backpack

- substantial first aid kit

- 12-hour light sticks (1-3)

- 36-hr survival candle

- flashlight & extra batteries or hand crank flashlight

- portable AM/FM radio & extra batteries or hand crank

- multi-tool or Swiss Army-style pocketknife

- hand warmers (2-4)

- box of waterproof matches

- food bars for 3 days (3600 calories)

- water pouches for 3 days (6-8 4 oz. pouches)

- plastic cup (collapsible if available)

- roll of duct tape

- 25’ – 50’ of nylon cord or rope

- 2 or more dust masks or N95 masks

- leather work gloves

- folding shovel

- toilet paper, toothbrush/paste, personal hygiene items

- insect repellant, sting relief, sun screen, hand sanitizer

- waterproof bag for important documents

- compass, whistle, signal mirror

Sounds like a lot, but you only have to do this once and you’re ready to deal with any emergency for the next five years or so. Call it life insurance. Pretty good Insurance too. Ask anyone who managed to survive a hurricane, flood, tornado, earthquake or fire. They didn’t expect an emergency either. Catastrophe only happens to other people, right? Wrong.

Next time, I’ll discuss how you should prepare for emergency survival in your car.

* Harris Poll # 60; recent ORC International poll for the Red Cross.

Rocky McCloud is a partner of Rock Bottom Company of Tonasket, Washington. He writes on the subject of emergency survival preparation and authors the “Free Emergency Prep Guide” found on both of the company’s Internet sites: &