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Archive for Thursday, August 10, 2006

Families should plan ahead for emergency needs

August 10, 2006

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Deadly summer weather can still strike in August, from hurricanes near the Gulf to severe storms in Kansas. Here are some ideas for your family's emergency preparedness:

¢ Emergency experts advise people to have enough nonperishable food and water on hand for three to four days.

¢ Utility companies may request that service be shut off. Know the locations of the shut-off valves for natural gas and water. Also, know how to turn off the electricity at the service panel. Remember, turning the natural gas valve back on could be a job for the utility.

¢ Keep fresh batteries readily available for operating transistor radios and flashlights. Better yet, purchase new, battery-free windup flashlights and radios.

¢ Gallons of bottled water can be used for sanitary concerns, including flushing toilets. Stock up with a few gallon-size cases of distilled water and rotate the supply every two to three months. Smaller bottles are fine for drinking; larger containers address sanitary and cooking concerns. Before the storm hits, fill up bathtubs with tap water. A bucket of water from the tub can be used to flush toilets.

¢ If you have a grill, store an extra container of propane. An extra bag or two of charcoal is wise for conventional grills.

¢ Keep several bags of ice in the spare freezer. Rotate them often. In the event of a power outage, ice will help preserve perishable food.

¢ Store and restock a supply of nonperishable food. Items like dried fruit, jerky, nuts, cereal and protein bars can be rotated monthly. Ready-to-eat meals, the kind used by the military, are available at sports outlets and camping specialty stores.

¢ Consider a small gas-powered generator if a family member needs an electric machine for health reasons. If you purchase a generator, be sure it is powerful enough to run the machine and that it will run when needed. Like any small gasoline-powered machine, the generator's engine needs maintenance. Also, have enough gasoline on hand to operate the generator for three to five days.

¢ Designate an out-of-state family member as a telephone contact. During emergencies, local phone lines can be jammed, but long-distance lines often are available. Should family members be separated, notifying an out-of-state contact via long distance can help.

¢ Take a CPR course, just in case someone is injured during a disaster.

¢ Have a working fire extinguisher on hand because gas lines and electric service panels could be sources of fire.

¢ Create a disaster supplies kit. Depending on need, the kit could have everything from batteries, flashlights and radios to rope, first-aid supplies and prescription medicine.

¢ For more tips, go online. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Web site has a wealth of information on preparing for and dealing with storms.

¢ Consider buying flood insurance. Flood insurance is available through about 100 insurance companies in more than 21,000 communities nationwide. Information is available at the National Flood Insurance Program Web site, www.floodsmart.gov or by calling ( 800) 427-2419.

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