The reason I have been thinking so much about this is because I am in a class right now at BYU that is all about disaster response and emergency preparedness. Last night we had a panel of experts come and answer questions. We had people from the Red Cross, Provo City, Police, Hospitals, and BYU. It was such a great class! One really cool thing I learned last night is that contrary to popular belief BYU doesn't have huge amounts of food storage on campus for their students and families. BYU would just use food from its several food service locations (Cougareat, Cannon Center, BYU Creamery, ect.) that they currently have on hand for a disaster and it is only for the students, not the students' families.
I got some really great hand-outs last night. One was called "Plan 9." It's a simple guide about some items you might need in an emergency situation. I thought I would focus on that guide in this post and tell you about the things they suggest.
1. Water: Bottled water. One gallon, per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation.
- Keep the water in a cool, dark place and change to a fresh supply every six months
2. Food: Nonperishable food. A supply of 3.5 days of food per person.
- Ready to eat canned meat, fruit and vegetables
- Canned or boxed juices
- Powdered milk and soup
- Crackers, granola, trail mix
3. Clothes: Collect one change of clothes and footwear per person.
- Consider packing blankets, rain gear and outerwear in case of inclement weather.
4. Medications: Collect three days worth of any prescription medications you're taking.
- Be sure to note the expiration date so you don't keep them past their date.
5. Flashlight: Keep a bright flashlight in case there's no electric power.
- Consider getting a lantern-style light for hands free use
- Don't use candles! They're a fire hazard and are easy to lose track of when the lights come back on.
6. Can Opener: Make sure it's a manual can opener in case there's no electric power.
- Consider buying items with a pull-top opening. You won't need a can opener at all!
7. Radio: A battery-powered radio for listening to news and weather.
- Consider buying a crank-operated or solar-powered radio
- Don't forget extra batteries! Buy them in advance in case they're in short supply.
8. Hygiene Items: Just the basics like soap, toilet-paper, and a toothbrush.
- Moist towelettes can be useful for quick sanitation.
9. First Aid: Basics such as antiseptic, gloves bandages and non-prescritption medicines.
Here are some good web sites for more information about emergency preparedness:
Be Ready Utah, American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control, Disaster Help, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Cool things I have learned from my class:
- Cell phones are the first communication to go down in a disaster so we shouldn't rely on them.
- If your water is turned off, here are a couple of ideas for a toilet: 1) Use your current toilet but place two heavy plastic bags in the bowl of the toilet to line it. Replace the bags every night or as needed. 2) Use a 5 gallon bucket. Line it with two heavy plastic bags and put kitty litter or sawdust in the bottom. Keep the lid on while not in use. The bagged waste should be securely tied and placed in a protected container for temporary storage until the waste can properly be disposed of as directed by the health department.
- If you want to volunteer when a disaster occurs prepare now. The Red Cross won't accept volunteers unless they have had a background check and are registered with them.
- If your cell phone does work text, don't call people, since texting doesn't tie up the lines and your more likely to contact them.
- If your drinking water is contaminated, disinfect it using one of the following methods: 1) Boiling - Boil water vigorously for one full minute. (3 minutes at altitudes over 6500 ft.). 2) Bleach - "Regular" unscented chlorine bleach may be used to disinfect water: 1 quart of water use 2 drops of bleach for clear water and 4 drops for cloudy water. 1 gallon of water use 8 drops of bleach for clear water and 16 drops for cloudy water.
- Gather emergency documents and have them by or in your 72-hour kit so you can leave quickly in an emergency. Some documents you may need are copies of insurance and medicare cards, operating instructions and serial numbers of critical medical devices you use, copies of family records, birth certificate, passports, charge accounts, social security cards, insurance policies, bank accounts.
- Know the emergency plans for your children's schools.
- Pick two meeting places, close-by and one that's out of the neighborhood.
Well I have probably rambled on long enough. If you have any questions about emergency preparedness I would be happy to try and answer them if I can!!