AUBURN, Ala. – A tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico appears poised to be the first tropical storm to make landfall in the United States this year. The National Weather Service has warned that the system’s rains mean significant flash flooding is possible. Coastal Alabama is at higher risk, but the entire state could be at risk from the weakly organized but large storm system. This storm serves as an important reminder that everyone should be prepared for severe weather. Alabama Extension encourages people to stock some basic items in in case of emergencies. These include water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools and special items, such as a battery-operated radio, extra batteries and flashlights. Keep items that you would need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. A good rule of thumb is to plan for at least three days.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation and sanitation) for each person in the household. A person who is generally active 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 to drink even more. Store water in plastic containers, such as large soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break.
Store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable 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 and matches. 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, canned fruits, dried fruits, nuts and canned vegetables.
Stock First Aid Supplies
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. A first aid kit should include sterile, adhesive bandages in assorted sizes, assorted sizes of safety pins, a cleansing agent/soap, two paris of latex gloves, sunscreen, four to six 2-inch sterile gauze pads, four to six 4-inch sterile gauze pads, three triangular bandages, three rolls of 2-inch sterile roller bandages, three rolls of 3-inch sterile roller bandages, scissors, adhesive tape, tweezers, needles, thread, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, rubbing alcohol, a thermometer, two tongue blades, petroleum jelly or other lubricant and extra eye glasses. You should also include nonprescription drugs, such as aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, antidiarrheal medication, antacids (for stomach upset), syrup of ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center), laxative and activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center).
Don’t forget to pack any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you and your family may take for health. These include medicines for the heart, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis or other ailments or diseases. Insulin must be kept cool. Check your medications several days before a storm is due to arrive. If you only have one or two days of medicine left, get your refills before the storm. Power may be out after the storm, and pharmacies may be closed. Also don’t forget about denture and contact lenses supplies.
Stock Sanitation Supplies
Sanitation supplies are also essential during emergencies. You should include items such as toilet paper, towelettes, soap, liquid detergent, feminine hygiene supplies, personal hygiene products, plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses), a plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant, household chlorine bleach and facial tissues.
Pack one complete change of clothing and footwear per person. Make sure at least one pair of sturdy shoes or work boots are packed. Rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags, a hat and gloves, thermal underwear and sunglasses may also be needed.
Tools and other supplies should include paper cups, plates,plastic utensils, cash or traveler’s checks, coins, a nonelectric can opener, a utility knife, pliers, Philips-head and flat- head screwdrivers. Also include a hammer, a crowbar, assorted nails, wood screws, a shutoff wrench to turn off household gas and water, duct and electrical tape, a compass, matches in a waterproof container, aluminum foil, plastic storage containers, a signal flare, paper, pencils, adhesive labels, safety goggles, heavy work gloves, a whistle, heavy cotton or hemp rope, a patch kit and a can of seal-in-air, disposable dust masks, plastic sheeting and a map of the area (for locating shelters).
Safeguard Important Papers
If you have babies or small children, store formula, diapers, wipes, bottles, powdered formula, milk, baby food and medications. Keep important family documents in a waterproof, portable container. Include copies of wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks, bonds, passports, Social Security cards, immunization records, credit card account and, bank account numbers, names and phone numbers, inventory of valuable household goods, family records (birth, marriage and death certificates and copies of Supplemental Security Income award letter). You may want to videotape items in your house for insurance purposes. Put the videotape in a waterproof bag and seal it.
Prepare for Pets
Don’t forget your pets. Store pet food, additional water, a leash or harness, identification tags, medications, medical records, litter and pans for all your pets.
And last, but certainly not least, store some games and books for entertainment.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has an iBook to help families, businesses and communities prepare for storms and clean up after they pass. The Emergency Handbook is a comprehensive resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available as a free download from iBooks.
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