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    Reluctant Messenger

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    Terrorism Survival Guide

    Terror Alert Disaster Survival Guide and Emergency Preparedness To Do List - Surviving a Terrorist Attack and other Disasters and Emergencies

    This information was compiled from several sources so there is some duplication.

    I know there are a lot of members of this list that do not live in the United States. This information is still appropriate. Be sure and check with emergency preparedness organizations for your part of the world.

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Be prepared. Just in case.

    In the age of terrorist attacks, that advice isn't just for children. Law enforcement officials, raising the threat level Friday, handed it out to parents in particular. A little advance planning, they say, could protect families and property if an attack knocks out access to home, food and money.

    Households should have on hand three days worth of water and food; an emergency supply kit for both home and automobile; radios with extra batteries; and plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal windows and doors.

    First on any to-do list: "Take the time now to get informed," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said. Ridge specifically urged Americans to arrange a way for family members to contact each other--such as through an out-of-town relative-- and designate a meeting place in case telephone service is knocked out by an attack

    "I think it would make family members a lot more comfortable if they knew they were able to get in touch with one another in the event something happened," Ridge told reporters.

    Those with more time to prepare might check out the government's guidelines on assembling a "disaster plan" taking other steps to protect people and property at nominal expense. Such a guide can be found at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/

    Top tips include:

  • Identify two meeting places: One near home and the second away from the neighborhood in case home cannot be approached.
  • Find out the emergency response plans of employers, school, daycare and other officials. To where would they evacuate workers and students? Write down the answers and keep a copy in your wallet.
  • Keep life, property, health and other insurance policies current, and know their terms. Store copies of these and other important documents -- identification, deeds, wills, a small amount of cash -- in a watertight container.
  • Have a plan for pets, since shelters do not allow them.
  • Assemble a "disaster supply kit" and keep it in a designated place where it is ready to "grab and go." It should include bottled water, food and emergency supplies, perhaps kept in backpacks or duffel bags. Recommended Resource:
  • With guidance from doctor or pharmacist, store prescription drugs and an extra set of prescription glasses.
  • First aid kit.

    The Red Cross Advises:

    Terrorism: Preparing for the Unexpected
    Devastating acts, such as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, have left many concerned about the possibility of future incidents in the United States and their potential impact. They have raised uncertainty about what might happen next, increasing stress levels. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to prepare for the unexpected and reduce the stress that you may feel now and later should another emergency arise. Taking preparatory action can reassure you and your children that you can exert a measure of control even in the face of such events.

    What You Can Do to Prepare
    Finding out what can happen is the first step. Once you have determined the events possible and their potential in your community, it is important that you discuss them with your family or household. Develop a disaster plan together.

    1. Create an emergency communications plan.
    Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact Make sure every household member has that contact's, and each other's, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager and cell). Leave these contact numbers at your children's schools, if you have children, and at your workplace. Your family should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or try e-mail. Many people flood the telephone lines when emergencies happen but e-mail can sometimes get through when calls don't.

    2. Establish a meeting place.
    Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.

    3. Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
    If you need to evacuate your home or are asked to "shelter in place," having some essential supplies on hand will make you and your family more comfortable. Prepare a disaster supplies kit in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can. Include "special needs" items for any member of your household (infant formula or items for people with disabilities or older people), first aid supplies (including prescription medications), a change of clothing for each household member, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each, a battery powered radio or television and extra batteries, food, bottled water and tools. It is also a good idea to include some cash and copies of important family documents (birth certificates, passports and licenses) in your kit.

    Copies of essential documents-like powers of attorney, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, life insurance beneficiary designations and a copy of your will-should also be kept in a safe location outside your home. A safe deposit box or the home of a friend or family member who lives out of town is a good choice.

    For more complete instructions, ask your local Red Cross chapter for the brochure titled Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit (stock number A4463).

    4. Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you may have.

    You need to know if they will they keep children at school until a parent or designated adult can pick them up or send them home on their own. Be sure that the school has updated information about how to reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pickup. And, ask what type of authorization the school may require to release a child to someone you designate, if you are not able to pick up your child. During times of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls.

    For more information on putting together a disaster plan, request a copy of the brochure titled Your Family Disaster Plan (A4466) from your local American Red Cross chapter. You may also want to request a copy of Before Disaster Strikes . . . How to Make Sure You're Financially Prepared (A5075) for specific information on what you can do now to protect your assets.




    If Disaster Strikes

    Remain calm and be patient. Follow the advice of local emergency officials. Listen to your radio or television for news and instructions.

  • If the disaster occurs near you, check for injuries.
  • Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
  • If the disaster occurs near your home while you are there, check for damage using a flashlight.
  • Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches.
  • Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities.
  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact—do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.

    A Word on What Could Happen
    As we learned from the events of September 11, 2001, the following things can happen after a terrorist attack:

    There can be significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to buildings and the infrastructure. So employers need up-to-date information about any medical needs you may have and on how to contact your designated beneficiaries.

    Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels follows a terrorist attack due to the event's criminal nature.

    Health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits, maybe even overwhelmed.

    Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.

    Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.

    You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding roads blocked for your safety.

    Clean-up may take many months.

    Evacuation
    If local authorities ask you to leave your home, they have a good reason to make this request, and you should heed the advice immediately. Listen to your radio or television and follow the instructions of local emergency officials and keep these simple tips in mind:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes so you can be protected as much as possible.
  • Take your disaster supplies kit.
  • Take your pets with you; do not leave them behind. Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan to go to a relative's or friend's home, or find a "pet-friendly" hotel.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities—don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Listen to local authorities.
  • Your local authorities will provide you with the most accurate information specific to an event in your area. Staying tuned to local radio and television, and following their instructions is your safest choice.

    If you're sure you have time:

  • Call your family contact to tell them where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so.
  • Leave natural gas service ON unless local officials advise you otherwise. You may need gas for heating and cooking, and only a professional can restore gas service in your home once it's been turned off. In a disaster situation it could take weeks for a professional to respond.

    Shelter in place
    If you are advised by local officials to "shelter in place," what they mean is for you to remain inside your home or office and protect yourself there.

  • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Get your disaster supplies kit, and make sure the radio is working.
  • Go to an interior room without windows that's above ground level.
  • In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
  • Using duct tape, seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
  • Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate. Local officials may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.

  • Additional Positive Steps You Can Take
    Raw, unedited footage of terrorism events and people's reaction to those events can be very upsetting, especially to children. We do not recommend that children watch television news reports about such events, especially if the news reports show images over and over again about the same incident. Young children do not realize that it is repeated video footage, and think the event is happening again and again. Adults may also need to give themselves a break from watching disturbing footage. However, listening to local radio and television reports will provide you with the most accurate information from responsible governmental authorities on what's happening and what actions you will need to take. So you may want to make some arrangements to take turns listening to the news with other adult members of your household.

    Another useful preparation includes learning some basic first aid. To enroll in a first aid and AED/CPR course, contact your local American Red Cross chapter. In an emergency situation, you need to tend to your own well-being first and then consider first aid for others immediately around you, including possibly assisting injured people to evacuate a building if necessary.

    People who may have come into contact with a biological or chemical agent may need to go through a decontamination procedure and receive medical attention. Listen to the advice of local officials on the radio or television to determine what steps you will need to take to protect yourself and your family. As emergency services will likely be overwhelmed, only call 9-1-1 about life-threatening emergencies.

    First Aid Primer
    If you encounter someone who is injured, apply the emergency action steps:

    Check-Call-Care:

  • Check the scene to make sure it is safe for you to approach.
  • Then check the victim for unconsciousness and life-threatening conditions. Someone who has a life-threatening condition, such as not breathing or severe bleeding, requires immediate care by trained responders and may require treatment by medical professionals.
  • Call out for help. There are some steps that you can take, however, to care for someone who is hurt, but whose injuries are not life threatening

    Control Bleeding

  • Cover the wound with a dressing, and press firmly against the wound (direct pressure).
  • Elevate the injured area above the level of the heart if you do not suspect that the victim has a broken bone.
  • Cover the dressing with a roller bandage.
  • If the bleeding does not stop:
  • Apply additional dressings and bandages.
  • Use a pressure point to squeeze the artery against the bone.
  • Provide care for shock.

    Care for Shock

  • Keep the victim from getting chilled or overheated. Elevate the legs about 12 inches (if broken bones are not suspected).
  • Do not give food or drink to the victim.
  • Tend Burns
  • Stop the burning by cooling the burn with large amounts of water.
  • Cover the burn with dry, clean dressings or cloth.

    Care for Injuries to Muscles, Bones and Joints

  • Rest the injured part.
  • Apply ice or a cold pack to control swelling and reduce pain.
  • Avoid any movement or activity that causes pain.
  • If you must move the victim because the scene is becoming unsafe, try to immobilize the injured part to keep it from moving.

    Be Aware of Biological/Radiological Exposure
    Listen to local radio and television reports for the most accurate information from responsible governmental and medical authorities on what's happening and what actions you will need to take.

    Reduce Any Care Risks
    The risk of getting a disease while giving first aid is extremely rare. However, to reduce the risk even further:

    Avoid direct contact with blood and other body fluids. Use protective equipment, such as disposable gloves and breathing barriers. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water immediately after giving care.

    It is important to be prepared for an emergency and to know how to give emergency care.

    Home Hazard Hunt

    In a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury and damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a potential hazard.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
  • Fasten shelves securely.
  • Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Secure water heater. Strap to wall studs.
  • Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products away from heat sources.
  • Place oily polishing rags or waste in covered metal cans.
  • Clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors, and gas vents.

    Family Disaster Planning
    Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or 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.

    Four Steps to Safety

    1. Find Out What Could Happen to You
    Contact your local Red Cross chapter or emergency management office before a disaster occurs--be prepared to take notes.

    Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each. Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them. Ask about animal care after a disaster. Animals are not allowed inside emergency shelters because of health regulations.

    Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.

    Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or day care center, and other places where your family spends time.

    2. Create a Disaster Plan
    Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.

    Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.

    Pick two places to meet:

    Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.

    Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.

    Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.

    Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

    3. Complete This Checklist

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the utilities (water, gas, and electricity) at the main switches.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
  • Get training from the fire department for each family member on how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Conduct a home hazard hunt.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.

    4. Practice and Maintain Your Plan

  • Quiz your kids every six months or so.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuations.
  • Replace stored water and stored food every six months.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

    Neighbors Helping Neighbors
    Working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors' special skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home. If Disaster Strikes

  • Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
  • Check for Injuries
  • Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
  • Listen to Your Battery-Powered Radio for News and Instructions

    Check for Damage in Your Home...

  • Use flashlights.
  • Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities. (You will need a professional to turn gas back on.)
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately.

    Remember to...

  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.

    Important basics

    There are six basics you should stock for your home:
  • water,
  • food
  • first aid supplies
  • clothing
  • bedding,
  • tools and emergency supplies, and special items.

    Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container such as:

  • large, covered trash container
  • a camping backpack
  • or a duffle bag.

    Water

    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).

    Food

    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
  • Canned juices
  • Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
  • High energy foods
  • Vitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods

    First Aid Kit
    Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pairs)
  • Sunscreen
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • Non-prescription drugs
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Non-Prescription Drugs
  • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Laxative
  • 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
  • Tube tent
  • Pliers
  • Tape
  • Compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Needles, thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)
  • Sanitation
  • Toilet paper, towelettes
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach
  • Clothing and Bedding
  • *Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person
  • Sturdy shoes or work boots
  • Rain gear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Hat and gloves
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Special Items

    Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons

    For Baby

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications

    For Adults

  • Heart and high blood pressure medication
  • Insulin
  • Prescription drugs
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

    Entertainment

  • Games and books

    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.

    Important Reminders

  • 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.

  • Food Supplies in Case of Disaster

    How long can food supplies be stored?
    To judge how long you can store food supplies, look for an expiration date or best if used by date on the product. If you can not find a date on the product, then the general recommendation is to store food products for six months and then replace them.

    Some households find it helpful to pull food products for their regular meals from their disaster supplies kit and replace them immediately on an ongoing basis, so the food supplies are always fresh.

    What kinds of food supplies are recommended to store in case of a disaster?
    Try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don't stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Familiar foods can lift morale and give a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned foods won't require cooking, water or special preparation. 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.

    Store supplies of non-perishable foods and water in a handy place. You need to have these items packed and ready in case there is no time to gather food from the kitchen when disaster strikes. Sufficient supplies to last several days to a week are recommended.

    Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Foods that are compact and lightweight are easy to store and carry.

    Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned food with high liquid content.

    Recommended foods include:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables. (Be sure to include a manual can opener)
  • Canned juices, milk and soup (if powdered, store extra water).
  • High energy foods, such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars and trail mix.
  • Comfort foods, such as hard candy, sweetened cereals, candy bars and cookies.
  • Instant coffee, tea bags.
  • Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets, if necessary.
  • Compressed food bars. They store well, are lightweight, taste good and are nutritious.
  • Trail mix. It is available as a prepackaged product or you can assemble it on your own.
  • Dried foods. They can be nutritious and satisfying, but have some have a lot of salt content, which promotes thirst. Read the label.
  • Freeze-dried foods. They are tasty and lightweight, but will need water for reconstitution.
  • Instant Meals. Cups of noodles or cups of soup are a good addition, although they need water for reconstitution.
  • Snack-sized canned goods. Good because they generally have pull-top lids or twist-open keys.
  • Prepackaged beverages. Those in foil packets and foil-lined boxes are suitable because they are tightly sealed and will keep for a long time.

    Food Options to Avoid:

  • Commercially dehydrated foods. They can require a great deal of water for reconstitution and extra effort in preparation.
  • Bottled foods. They are generally too heavy and bulky, and break easily.
  • Meal-sized canned foods. They are usually bulky and heavy.
  • Whole grains, beans, pasta. Preparation could be complicated under the circumstances of a disaster.

    Water Storage

    Use directions provided by your local or state public health agency. In the case where your local or state public health agency does not have information, follow the recommendations below.

    What kinds of containers are recommended to store water in?
    Make sure the water storage container you plan to use is of food grade quality, such as 2-liter soda bottles, with tight-fitting screw-cap lids. Milk containers are not recommended because they do not seal well.

    Should water be treated before storing it?
    If your local water is treated commercially by a water treatment utility, you do not have to treat the water before storing it. Treating commercially-treated water with bleach is superfluous and not necessary. Doing so does not increase storage life. It is important to change and replace stored water every six months or more frequently.

    If your local water is not treated commercially by a water treatment facility, that is, if your water comes from a public well or other public, non-treated system, follow instructions about water storage provided by your public health agency or water provider. They may recommend treating it with a small amount of liquid household bleach. Still, it is important to change and replace stored water every six months or more frequently.

    If your local water comes from a private well or other private source, consult with your local public health agency about recommendations regarding storage of water. Some water sources have contaminants (minerals or parasites) that can not be neutralized by treatment with liquid household chlorine bleach. Only your local public health agency should make recommendations about whether your local water can be safely stored, for how long, and how to treat it.

    Can I use bottled water?
    If you plan to use commercially prepared "spring" or "drinking" water, keep the water in its original sealed container. Change and replace the water at least once a year. Once opened, use it and do not store it further.

    Three Ways to Treat Water
    In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis. You should treat all water of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene.

    There are many ways to treat water. None is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods.

    Two easy treatment methods are outlined below. These measures will kill most microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.

    Boiling: Boiling is the safest method of treating water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.

    Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.

    Disinfection: You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.

    Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

    The only agent used to treat water should be household liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.

    While the two methods described above will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes that resist these methods, and heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.

    Distillation: Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

    Food Supplies

    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.

    Special Considerations
    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.

    How to Cook If the Power Goes Out
    For emergency cooking you can use a fireplace, or a charcoal grill or camp stove can be used outdoors. You can also heat food with candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label first.

    Short-Term Food Supplies
    Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that long.

    The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves.

    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.

    Nutrition Tips

    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)
  • Potatoes 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)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Hard candy and canned nuts
  • Vitamin C May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
  • Wheat
  • Vegetable oils
  • Dried corn
  • Baking powder
  • Soybeans
  • Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
  • Salt
  • Noncarbonated soft drinks
  • White rice
  • Bouillon products
  • Dry pasta
  • Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)
  • Disaster Supplies

    Flash Flood

    It's 2:00 a.m. and a flash flood forces you to evacuate your home-fast. There's no time to gather food from the kitchen, fill bottles with water, grab a first-aid kit from the closet and snatch a flashlight and a portable radio from the bedroom. You need to have these items packed and ready in one place before disaster strikes.

    Pack at least a three-day supply of food and water, and store it in a handy place. Choose foods that are easy to carry, nutritious and ready-to-eat. In addition, pack these emergency items:

  • Medical supplies and first aid manual
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries
  • Shovel and other useful tools
  • Household liquid bleach to treat drinking water § Money and matches in a waterproof container
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Blanket and extra clothing
  • Infant and small children's needs (if appropriate)
  • Manual can opener

    If the Electricity Goes Off . . . FIRST, use perishable food and foods from the refrigerator.

    THEN, use the foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least three days.

    FINALLY, begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.

    To get copies of American Red Cross Community Disaster Education materials, contact your local Red Cross chapter.

    The text on this page is in the public domain. We request that attribution to this information be given as follows: From "Disaster Supplies Kit." developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross.

    Provided as a service of The Reluctant Messenger

    Recommended Links

  • Red Cross Disaster Planning Preparedness Information
  • FEMA Disaster Preparedness Preparation and Prevention
  • http://www.ready.gov/ US GOV Terrorism Preparedness Planning
  • Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Association Reference Library and Archives
  • US Dept of State Crisis Awareness and Preparedness
  • PrepareNow.ORG Earthquake Disaster Planning and Response
  • International Disaster Planning Links and researches Worlwide




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