Take a moment to think back to February earlier this year. What were you doing?
Chances are at some point you were sitting at home in the dark after the ice storm wondering when the power company would make it to your street.
Thousands of us were stranded at our homes without power, many for five or six days. It took a long time for all of the downed trees to be removed before the power company trucks could even begin to fix broken lines.
How prepared were you for the ice storm?
Did you put back enough supplies to feed your family?
Were you able to keep your well pump from freezing?
Did you have a generator on hand for power?
September is national Disaster Preparedness month. GEMA, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, has put together a GA Ready website (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 very 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.
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 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 website has several videos and web tools that allow you to think through plans that can fit the needs of your family.
Although this may be a subject most people don't like to think about, natural disasters are a very real possibility. Many of us live in rural areas which increase the chances of being cut off in the event of a disaster. 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.