An everyday task for everyday life
Being prepared for emergencies is crucial at home, school, work and in your community.
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood, workplace or school or can confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off?
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. The best way to make you and your family safer is to be prepared before disaster strikes. We encourage you to:
Get a Kit
Make a Plan
You can also Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed by taking the Be Red Cross Ready online educational presentation.
Click here to visit the American Red Cross Headquarters’ web-site for additional information.
“Red Cross Talk”
Straight talk from the Red Cross. Take a moment and listen to some simple, down-to-earth advice on how you and your family can become safer, healthier and more resilient in the face of an emergency.
Make A Plan
In the midst of rushing through everyday life, it’s important to take a minute or two to prepare for emergencies. Being prepared helps you and your family, schoolmates, or workmates minimize the impact of a disaster such as a hurricane or an emergency such as a broken leg.
The best way to make your surroundings safer is to be prepared before disaster strikes.
Make a family communications plan that includes an evacuation plan and coordinates with your school, work and community communication plans. Practice this plan with your entire family.
Whether you are a business owner, a manager or an employee, make sure you know what to do in the case of an emergency.
If you commute to work, make sure you know alternative routes and carry appropriate supplies such as a disaster supplies kit in your car and a compact kit on public transportation.
Build A Kit
Prepare for Disasters Before they Strike: Build A Disaster Supplies Kit
There are six basics you should stock for your home in the case an emergency:
water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items for medical conditions.
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container. Below is a comprehensive list of what should be included in your kit – recommended items are marked with an asterisk(*).
Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack or a duffle bag.
Remember to check your kit every six months.
Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
Store one gallon of water per person per day.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).*
Water sources during an emergency
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight.
Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:
Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
High energy foods
Food for infants
Food supplies during an emergency
First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
(20) adhesive bandages, various sizes.
(1) 5″ x 9″ sterile dressing.
(1) conforming roller gauze bandage.
(2) triangular bandages.
(2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.
(2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.
(1) roll 3″ cohesive bandage.
(2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
(6) antiseptic wipes.
(2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves.
Adhesive tape, 2″ width.
Scissors (small, personal).
CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield.
Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
Antacid (for stomach upset)
Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Tools and Supplies
Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils*
Emergency preparedness manual*
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries*
Flashlight and extra batteries*
Cash or traveler’s checks, change*
Non-electric can opener, utility knife*
Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
Matches in a waterproof container
Plastic storage containers
Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
Map of the area (for locating shelters)
Toilet paper, towelettes*
Soap, liquid detergent*
Personal hygiene items*
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
Plastic bucket with tight lid
Household chlorine bleach
Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.
Sturdy shoes or work boots*
Blankets or sleeping bags*
Hat and gloves
Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons
Heart and high blood pressure medication
Contact lenses and supplies
Extra eye glasses
Entertainment (based on the ages of family members)
Games (cards) and books
Portable music device
Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
Passports, social security cards, immunization records
Bank account numbers
Credit card account numbers and companies
Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
When Food Supplies Are Low
If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women.
If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don’t stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
You don’t need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned foods, dry mixes and other staples on your cupboard shelves. In fact, familiar foods are important. They can lift morale and give a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned foods won’t require cooking, water or special preparation. Following are recommended short-term food storage plans.
As you stock food, take into account your family’s unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are best.
Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and elderly people. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.
Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. And don’t forget nonperishable foods for your pets.
Food Storage Tips
Keep food in a dry, cool spot – a dark area if possible.
Keep food covered at all times.
Open food boxes or cans care-fully so that you can close them tightly after each use.
Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in tight containers.
Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or air-tight cans to protect them from pests.
Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.
Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
During and right after a disaster, it will be vital that you maintain your strength. So remember:
Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (two quarts a day).
Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition.
Shelf-life of Foods for Storage
Here are some general guidelines for rotating common emergency foods.
Use within six months:
Powdered milk (boxed)
Dried fruit (in metal container)
Dry, crisp crackers (in metal container)
Use within one year:
Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables
Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)
Hard candy and canned nuts
May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
Noncarbonated soft drinks
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)
The third major step in emergency preparedness is: Be Informed.
Here are three key parts of being informed:
Get Info – Learn the ways you would get information during a disaster or an emergency.
Know Your Region – Learn about the disasters that may occur in your area.
Action Steps – Learn first aid from the Eastern Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Learn about the available methods to obtain important information during a disaster, either from your local authorities or other services. These sources of information can include those listed here:
Local Emergency Warning Systems
Person to Person
Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur in your area, and what to expect from them. If unsure call the Eastern Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross, for more information, (304) 725-5015.
If you find yourself in an emergency situation, stay calm and follow these emergency action steps:
Check the scene and check the person
Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
Care for the person based on the conditions you find
Before you can help an ill or injured person, first you must make sure the scene is safe for you and any bystanders. Look over the scene and try to answer these questions.
Check the scene for safety, to determine what happened, to find out how many people are involved, and to see if there are any bystanders who can help.
Check the person for what is wrong, especially any life threatening conditions.
Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number for these life threatening and other serious emergencies
When your call is answered, you will be talking to an EMS call taker (or dispatcher) specially trained in dealing with emergencies over the phone. Focus on remaining calm so that you can give clear answers. No matter what, DO NOT hang up until the person at the other end tells you to do so.
The call taker will ask for your phone number and address and other key questions to determine whether you need police, fire, and/or EMS. It may seem that the call taker asks a lot of questions. Once EMS is on the way, the call taker may stay on the line with you. Many call takers are trained to give first aid instructions, so they can assist you with life saving techniques.
Once you have called 9-1-1, you may need to give care until EMS personnel arrive. If so, follow these guidelines. Now we will give you two examples of first aid events for which you can give care:
Conscious choking for an adult victim
Cardiac arrest for an adult victim, where CPR is needed