By David Stooksbury
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
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
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.
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-
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
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.)