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Are You Ready for the Big One? (The 21 Golden Laws That FEMA Attests to)

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We’ve all talked about it. Are you ready if a big earthquake hits? Now that it’s everywhere in the news, is it really time to start thinking about this seriously? We all think we’ll be fine, but if we were suddenly without power, water, phones, etc., how would you fare? How much water do you have on hand? How many days worth of food until you run out? In the event of a catastrophic disaster, we cannot rely solely on emergency personnel, since they will be unable to assist everyone who will need help. It is crucial to be self-sufficient by storing emergency kits in your home, car, office, and/or school, since no one can predict where we will be when the next disaster strikes. If you’re ready to start thinking about this, here are some suggestions from FEMA and American Red Cross of things you might want to gather and have ready… just in case.

1. Backpack. Sturdy good-sized backpack or duffel bag to store this stuff in. Select one with comfortable straps that is easy to carry.

2. Every home should have at least one emergency kit. This medical/first-aid kit should have essentials that are tailored to your family. (Pre-assembled first-aid kits are not the best.) Include burn gel and dressings, antibiotic ointment, eyewash solution, a bottle of potassium iodide and antiseptic moist towelettes. Check expiration dates once a year. Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, assorted sizes of safety pins, latex gloves (2 pair), sunscreen, 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6), 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6), triangular bandages (3), tweezers, thermometer, non-prescription drugs (pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medicines, antacid, laxatives). Check with your doctor about the storage of prescription medications.

3. Water. Amount: A minimum of 2 gallons per person, per day. Change this water every six months.

4. Food. Nonperishables: A 72-hour supply of freeze-dried or meals ready to eat. Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables. Canned spaghetti, ravioli, chili, stew, tamales. Other good choices are canned beans or other vegetables, pudding cups, and ready-to-eat soups. Canned juices, milk. Sugar, salt, pepper. High energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix; foods that will not increase thirst. Vitamins. Comfort/stress foods: cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags. Avoid foods like rice, pasta and dry beans that require a great deal of water to prepare. Remember to restock your food once a year.

5. Pet food: Include can opener, if necessary. At least one ounce per animal pound per day.

6. Cooking: Lightweight camp stove and fuel. Matches: Windproof, waterproof matches in a waterproof container. Also include a second method to start a fire, such as a cigarette lighter or barbecue lighter. Signal flare.

7. Paper cups, paper plates, plastic utensils. Aluminum foil. Plastic storage containers.

8. Toiletries: Toilet paper. Soap, liquid detergent. Plastic garbage bags and ties. Plastic bucket with tight lid. Disinfectant. Household chlorine bleach. Toothbrush and paste, comb, tissue, sanitary napkins, diapers, razor. Include an old towel. Portable toilet. Insect repellent.

9. Shelter. Tent. Tarp. Warmth: Wool-blend blanket or sleeping bag. Emergency reflective blanket: Protects against hypothermia. Warm packs: For hands and body. Rain: Poncho or other gear.

10. Flashlight: Battery-powered, wind-up or both. Candles. Light sticks. Extra batteries.

11. Radio: Powered by batteries, wind-up or alternate power source. Extra batteries.

12. Whistle: With neck cord.

13. Paper, pencil.

14. Pocket knife/utility knife. Shovel. Hatchet or ax. Non-electric can-opener. Pliers. Tape. Wrench, to turn off gas and water. Multi-tool.

15. Small fire extinguisher.

16. Sewing kit. Needles, scissors, thread.

17. Nylon rope: 50 feet long.

18. Clothing and comfort. One outfit: A complete set of clothing for each family member including long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Include extra socks, underwear, hat, sturdy walking shoes or work boots, gloves and warm-weather clothing. Sunglasses.

19. Cash: At least $50 in small bills. Traveler’s Checks.

20. Copies of documents: Birth and marriage records, insurance forms, phone number lists, credit card account numbers and companies. Will, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds. Passports, social security cards, immunization records. Inventory of valuable household goods.

21. Stress relievers: Games, books, hard candy, inspirational reading. For children: small toys, paper and pen, favorite items that provide a sense of security.

OK, so does this list seem a bit ridiculous at first glance? I thought so too until I really started thinking about it. You may not need everything listed here; but, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about what would really be useful to you and your family if you suddenly needed it. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make sure you prepare yourself today!

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