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ASK THE EXPERTS

Prepare for disaster

POSTED: September 26, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Most of us are fortunate to live fairly comfortably in our everyday lives. We are lucky to live in a stable society that allows most of us to never worry about our food supply. We all have access to electricity, and all of the comforts and entertainment that comes with it.

Have you ever thought about what you would do if a natural disaster stuck? What if you no longer had electricity, water and access to the grocery store for extended periods of time?

September is national Disaster Preparedness Month.

GEMA, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, has put together a GA Ready Web site (www.ready.ga.gov) to help Georgians prepare for natural disaster events. It offers several features that can help the average homeowner plan for unexpected events.

One great feature is the list of items they recommend for a Basic Ready Kit. This is a collection of items they suggest should be kept on hand at all times.

The list is based on a three-day period of being without food, water and electricity. Your basic kit should include at minimum 1 gallon of water per person per day, as well as a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

Flashlights with extra batteries are a must for any situation involving loss of electricity, which is common in disaster situations. A battery-powered radio or hand-crank NOAA weather radio is recommended to keep your family informed of the latest severe weather developments in your area. You should also have on hand a first aid kit and a whistle to signal for help. Simple face masks are suggested to filter contaminated air. Wrenches and pliers are also recommended to turn off utilities. Local maps can be an essential part of your kit should you need to travel out and contact emergency services. Don't forget about personal hygiene and sanitation. Include some garbage bags and moist towelettes in your kit.

The site also has additional emergency items to consider based on your unique family situation.

Prescriptions, spare glasses, baby formula and diapers and pet food should be stored based on your needs.

Insurance policy numbers, bank account information and cash/checks should be stored in waterproof containers that are easily portable.

Extra clothing, sleeping bags, utensils and plates should also be kept on hand. It is also suggested that you keep paper and pencils, books, games and other activities in your kit to allow for activities for children.

Another scenario to consider in your disaster preparations is what to do if your family is separated during a natural disaster.

Does your family have a way of contacting each other if the power is out and all cell phone service is unavailable? Do you have a local meeting spot where you will gather if a disaster displaces you from your home?

The GA Ready Web site has several videos and Web tools that allow you to think through plans that can fit the needs of your family.

Planning with your kids the best way to exit the house in the event of fire, and where to go during a tornado, can greatly increase your family's chances of survival should a disaster strike.

Although this may be a subject most people don't like to think about, natural disasters are a real possibility. We have all seen the stories of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and ice storms on the news in areas not far from us.

Many of us live in rural areas, which increases the chances of being cut off in the event of a disaster event.

We can't plan for each individual occurrence, but being prepared with a basic ready kit and emergency plan will help you and your family in tough times.

Clark MacAllister is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

 

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