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Keep hazard kits handy

By David Stooksbury
State Climatologist
University of Georgia

Hindsight is 20/20. Watching tragedy unfold on the Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama coasts this week, we see the importance of creating and keeping a hazard kit handy.

Your family should have an all-hazards kit that will be good for most emergencies including hurricanes, flooding, ice storms or even terrorist attack. The all-hazards kit should contain the barest necessities to survive independently for up to two weeks.

It's important to assemble an all-hazards kit long before an impending emergency event.

What you need

What should the kit contain as a minimum?

  • First and foremost; bottled water. FEMA and the Red Cross recommend a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day. Some individuals with special needs, such as children, nursing mothers and the sick, will need more than a gallon a day. You should store a two-week supply. For a family of four that means a minimum of 56 gallons of drinkable water. Additional water will be needed for bathing, flushing toilets and food preparation.
  • Second, nonperishable foods, primarily canned foods that don't require cooking and don't need to be kept refrigerated or frozen. Include with this a manual can opener. Assume that you will not have electricity.
  • A battery-operated radio and a NOAA Weather Radio, and a supply of batteries.
  • Flashlights and other battery-operated lights. You don't want open flames such as candles which can cause fires. Cell and land-line phones may be down and you can't call the fire department. The fire department may not be able to respond because of blocked and flooded roads.
  • Foul weather clothing, including sturdy shoes and jackets. Also pack bedding.
  • Medical and other special-need supplies, including a first aid kit and first aid book.
  • Copies of important documents such as insurance, car title, deeds and social security card.
  • Plenty of cash. The ATM requires power.
  • Sturdy shoes since you there may be debris with nails surrounding your location.
  • Family safety

    Remind your family of these general safety measures:

  • Plan well ahead of the event; buy needed supplies before they are sold out.
  • If told to evacuate, evacuate.
  • Only use gas grill and charcoal grills outside in a well- ventilated area.
  • Treat all power lines as if they are alive; it is impossible by looking to tell the difference between a dead power line and one that can kill you.
  • Determine a contact person in a city well away from the event. If family members become separated, they can call the contact person who can help relay messages and coordinate the reunion.
  • Disasters often happen with little warning. Be prepared.

    (David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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