Are you ready? How to prepare for an emergency

During the last month, people I know have had homes burn down. It makes one think: Just how prepared are each of us, personally?

Personal safety comes in many forms. As with everything else, the more prepared we are, the less we stress. Disasters rarely occur during “business hours.”

Before your summer rush begins, make your plan to start collecting necessities. After you know how big your pile is, then proceed with finding good water-tight containers. Whatever container you select, be sure you can carry it when it is full.

Start by scanning important documents onto a memory stick – family records, medical records, wills, deeds, Social Security numbers, charge card and bank account information and tax records. A copy of your most recent home inventory and contents should be included. If nothing else, take a video of each room – as well as garage, shop and barn. A duplicate should be kept in your safety deposit box or safe. This simple action would have saved my friends a great deal of financial loss and frustration. Keep the memory stick in a water-tight Ziplock bag and update every couple of years.

For me, food is security. So I suggest to start off with that pile. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends having a three-day supply of food and water per person in the household. Plan on one gallon of water per day per person for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. Water and food for pets would be in addition to this.

Food choices should require no refrigeration and be foods that your family normally eats. Canned foods should be rotated out every couple of years if possible.

Dehydrated and dried foods can be kept longer and take up less space. Canned goods will work as a cooking and serving dish or can be eaten without cooking if necessary.

Ideas for foods for storage:

Ready-to-eat canned foods such as vegetables, fruit, beans, meat, fish, poultry and pasta. Pre-portioned options are available.

Low-sodium canned soups or dried soups in a cup.

Smoked or dried meats such as commercial beef jerky.

Dried fruits and vegetables – raisins, fruit leather.

Milk – powdered, canned or ultra-pasteurized.

Staples – sugar, salt, pepper, instant potatoes and rice, coffee, tea, cocoa mix.

Ready-to-eat cereals, instant hot cereals. Crackers and hard taco shells work well as a scooper.

High-energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, nuts, trail mix and granola bars.

There are several websites to help you create a list of supplies for the storage container. An interactive one is www.breadysd.com/kit.cfm – ignore the frozen food references. Other easy-to-use sites are www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/emergency/fdsf.html, FEMA and Red Cross; all have good information.

Keep a log to substantiate expenses or losses. A phone calling card is useful if your cellphone battery dies. And cash. Keep cash in the form of bills and coins to get by on for 3-4 days in case you can’t get home should the power go out or ATMs become unavailable.

Good preparation makes emergencies survivable.

ricekw@co.laplata.co.us or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.

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