Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Go-kits key to personal emergency planning

January 18, 2007

Surely you have a plan. Let's see, you have a will, a power of attorney, a plan for the next year -- something like: "I'm going to lose weight;" "I'm going to spend more time doing what I want to;" "I will exercise," ... that type of plan.

But I'll bet you don't have a disaster plan or a disaster kit. And if you do ... have you practiced the plan, have you looked in the kit?

Let's see. I'll bet it goes something like this: "I know I need a kit and a plan ... but what are the real odds of anything happening that I would need a plan for or for that matter a kit? Where would I put it? How big does it have to be? What goes in it?"

Maybe I can offer some answers with three types of "go kits" and one household kit. You get to pick and choose. I suggest you have them all by the end of the year.

I will be available by phone, e-mail or through this paper to give you some more sage advice as the year goes on.

Have three kits: one for home, one for work and one for the car.

Buy three really bright, obnoxious colored backpacks (this is so you can see them in the dark when they are stuffed in a corner. Here's what they should include:

The home, work and car kits should all contain the following:

First aid kit, flashlight (with extra batteries); heavy duty leather gloves (workshop type); protective eye glasses or safety goggles; paper dust masks; heavy duty shoes (no sneakers); a plastic container with a copy of your medicines, the phone number of your out-of-state contact, a copy of your driver's license/medical card/insurance card, Social Security card and about $100 in cash and coins; a hard hat of some kind (like construction workers wear); a Siren in a Can (the kind that boaters use on the water); and portable weather radio and extra batteries.

There are a lot of other things that can be put into these go kits, but remember these kits are to put on or "grab and go," so you don't want them to be too heavy.

Next comes the "other" stuff I highly recommend you get over the course of this next year and put aside in a special container in your home or apartment.

Water -- One gallon per person per day. It is important you change this every six months.

Food -- Anything you don't mind eating cold out of a can and anything you would usually eat if you needed a "snack," but not chips; staples like flour, sugar, peanut butter; smoked or dried meats; non-prescription medicines.

First Aid Kit -- purchase one in a box, but only use it if it is an emergency and you are stranded.

Tools and supplies: Camping kits (plates, cups, utensils); battery operated radio; fire extinguisher; pliers; compass; aluminum foil; signal flare; needles, thread; shut off wrench for gas and water; plastic sheeting; flashlight and extra batteries; hand-operated can opener; tube tent; tape; matches in a waterproof container; paper, pencils; and medicine dropper.

Sanitation: Toilet paper; feminine supplies; plastic garbage sacks/ties; plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid; soap, liquid detergent, hand sanitizer; and small shovel.

Clothing/bedding: Sturdy shoes; blankets or sleeping bags; thermal underwear; rain gear; hat and gloves and sunglasses.

Special items: Think of what a young baby or elderly adult might need.

Entertainment: Nothing that needs batteries.

Documents: Keep these in a waterproof, portable container (again buy something bright that you can't miss in the dark); will, insurance policies, stocks, bond, deeds; bank account numbers; household inventory (now there is a good New Year's resolution); passports, Social Security cards, immunization records; credit card account numbers and companies; and family records (birth, marriage, death certificates).

These are only some of the things that can go into a kit. Call me, e-mail me or post me a note and I will get you more information.

- Clarin Blessing is the assistant director of training and public education with the Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Blessing can be reached at (913) 715-1002 or by e-mail, cblessing@jocogov.org.

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