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Are You and Your Family Prepared For the First 72 Hours?

Experience gained from previous disasters has shown that it can take up to 72 hours or more to mobilize a major relief effort in an emergency. So everyone should be prepared to fend for themselves for at least the first 72 hours – that’s 3 days – of an emergency. Of course, common sense dictates that we should be prepared for any emergency, but the fact is that few of us are prepared for even the smallest crisis, let alone a major one.

An obvious advantage of being prepared is that it allows emergency workers to focus on people who most urgently need their help. To support their efforts, the rest of us must be prepared to fend for ourselves for at least 72 hours.

The San Francisco area is exposed to a wide variety of hazards, both natural and man-made. The path of destruction left by Hurricane Katrina in its wake across the southern US in August 2005 and the widespread flooding of 2007-2008 served as a stark reminder of the importance of disaster preparedness. Unfortunately, no part of our country or North America is immune to a natural or man-made disaster.

Earthquakes, power outages, floods, fires, severe storms and acts of terrorism are just some of the possible emergencies. Many of these emergencies have been fatal in the past. Being prepared can save lives and can help reduce the impact of a disaster on you and your family.

Why prepare your family?

Imagine for a moment that you have no electricity, gas, water and phone. Imagine that all businesses are closed and you are without any emergency services. What will you do until help arrives? What will you do if local authorities also issue an emergency evacuation order? Remember, in such a case there will be no shops open for you to buy anything, the shop staff will also be evacuated!

If you have not prepared in advance for any of these events, both you and your family can have a very difficult time when a disaster strikes your town. While governments work hard to keep citizens safe, we all have an important role to play in emergency preparedness and response. By being prepared to take care of yourself, you enable more efficient use of community resources during an emergency while helping to keep your family safe. Quite simply, emergency preparedness must start at home.

Start planning today!

As neither man-made nor natural emergencies can be predicted. Therefore, it is imperative that we all be prepared well in advance of disaster.

I cannot stress this point enough.

Prepare your emergency kit and your family – so in the event of a major emergency such as a flood or blackout – you are ready to take care of yourself and your loved ones for at least 72 hours. You should be prepared to live without running water, electricity, natural gas, telephones and assistance from security services for at least three days after a disaster.

What do you need?

You should have an “Emergency Kit” in your home, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

Your family emergency kit consists of two separate parts, a first aid kit and a go bag.

Your own 72-hour emergency kit should be tailored to meet your family’s basic survival needs. Store your emergency supplies in an easily accessible if evacuation is required. Items can be stored in a 32-gallon bin, suitcase, bag, backpack, tote bag, or individual packaging.

Your first aid kit

In any emergency situation, you or a family member may be cut, burned, or otherwise injured. It is imperative that you have basic first aid supplies with you so that you are ready to help when someone is injured. Medical assistance may not be available during or immediately after a large-scale disaster.

My personal list of items that should be in your first aid kit:

· Self-adhesive bandages in various sizes

· Gauzes and bandages

· Butterfly closure bandages

· Sterile dressings to stop bleeding (Blood Stopper)

· Elastic wrap

· Instant cold pack

· Detergent/soap and antibiotic wipes for disinfection

· Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection

· Burn ointment

· Sting Relief Pads (for insect bites)

· Sun protection packages

· Eye wash solution for rinsing the eyes or as a general disinfectant

· Cotton tips

· Scissors

· Tweezers

· At least two pairs of disposable gloves

· First aid instruction guide

· Hygiene kit

· Flashlight or glow stick

· Medicines such as aspirin or other analgesic, laxative, anti-diarrheal medicines

Your Go Bag:

An important component of the destruction kit is the Go-bag. Every household should pack a Go Bag – a collection of items you might need in the event of an evacuation order.

Your Go Bag can be assembled or purchased as a ready-made kit for convenience. Your Go Bag must be packed in a durable backpack or wheeled suitcase.

The Go Bag should be easily accessible if you need to leave your home in a hurry. Make sure it’s ready to leave at all times of the year, as an emergency evacuation order can arise at any time of the year.

Prepare a Go-bag for each family member and make sure each one is labeled with the name of the person it was packed for. You may not be home when an emergency strikes, so keep a few extra supplies in your car and at work.

Items that should be in your Go Bag:

· Prescription medications you take every day, such as insulin or heart medications.

· All prescription medical supplies such as glucose or blood pressure monitors

· Drinking water

· Non-perishable food, such as ration bars or Meal-in-a-Box

· Manual can opener

· Plates, utensils and other cooking items

· Flashlight and extra batteries or Manually charged Flashlight

· Pocket knife or multi-tool

· AM/FM radio with batteries and extra batteries

· I whistle

· Waterproof matches

· Water filtration bottle

· Tape, permanent marker and paper

· Cable ties

· Light Stick

· Rope or twine

· Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls

· Heavy duty gloves

· Disposable lighters

· Phillips screwdriver

· Standard screwdriver

· Folding shovel with case

· Garbage bags

· Toothbrush and toothpaste

· Personal hygiene kit

· Shaving kit

· Maps

· Sturdy shoes, change of clothes, gloves and warm hat

· Emergency survival sleeping bag

· Rain Ponchos

· Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes

· List of emergency contact telephone numbers

· List of allergies to any drug or food

· Copy of health insurance and ID

· Extra prescription glasses, hearing aids or other vital personal items

· Prescription drugs

· Extra keys for your house and vehicle

· Disposable camera

· Any types of special needs for children, the elderly or people with disabilities.

Don’t forget to make a Go-bag for your pets.

Remember that if you have to leave your home because of an evacuation order, you will be living and sleeping somewhere else for a while. So it’s a good idea to add some activity items to the kids’ Go bag.

Some suggestions might be some favorite books

· Paints, pencils and plenty of paper

· A puzzle

· A favorite toy, such as a doll or action figure

· A board game or two

· A deck of cards

· A favorite stuffed animal or puppet

· Favorite blanket or pillow

I sincerely hope this article will give you the motivation to prepare for an emergency now. Don’t put it off for another day. Your family’s safety and well-being is at stake.

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