The recent blizzard that has blanketed the East Cost in several feet of snow and left thousands without power is a great reminder of the importance of being prepared.
This winter made it clear snow and ice storms can hit just about anywhere. In recent years, tornadoes and hurricanes also have increased in number. The fact is, our weather is getting more erratic.
In case of a serious emergency, you may need to survive on your own. That means having enough food, water and other supplies on hand for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will likely be on the scene after a major disaster, but they won't be able to reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days. Also, such basic services as gas, electricity, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or longer.
If you haven't already created a comprehensive kit for just such emergencies, here's all you'll need to know, as supplied by FEMA.
1. Water: One gallon of water per person for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation purposes.
2. Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
3. Radios: Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert. Don't forget extra batteries for both.
4. Flashlight with a strong light and extra batteries.
5. Whistle to signal for help.
6. Dust mask to help filter contaminated air.
7. Plastic sheeting and duct tape to create an air-filtration shelter.
8. Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
9. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
10. Can opener, if kit contains canned food.
11. Local maps, in case you need to evacuate the area.
12. Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.
13. Toilet paper.
14. First-aid kit, including:
ADDITIONAL ITEMS TO CONSIDER
15. Prescription medications and glasses.
16. Infant formula and diapers.
17. Pet food and extra water for your pet.
18. Important family documents, such as copies of insurance policies, personal identification and bank account records, all sealed in a waterproof container. Use Operation Hope's Emergency Financial Aid Kit to help organize your information.
19. Cash or traveler's checks and change.
20. Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person, depending on your climate.
21. Complete change of clothing.
22. Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper as a disinfectant (diluted nine-parts water to one-part bleach). Bleach can also be used to treat water by using 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water.
23. Fire extinguisher.
24. Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
25. Mess kits, cups, plates, utensils and paper towels.
26. Matches in a waterproof container.
27. Paper and pencil.
28. Books, games, puzzles and other activities for both adults and children.