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The Voice of the Black Community


Are you prepared for an emergency?
Be ready for unexpected with basic supplies
Published Friday, March 30, 2012 8:11 am
by Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity

In recent days and weeks there have been many news stories about weather related and other disasters across the United States and the world. But how many of us know what we should to do to prepare for disasters like these? There are many questions that come to mind when thinking about these situations. Where can I go if I have to leave my home? What supplies do I need? What paperwork should I take with me? Read on to learn the answers to these and more important questions.

The most important thing you can do to give you and your family the best chance of survival in a disaster is to be prepared. It is recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Association and the American Red Cross that everyone should have a basic emergency supply kit that consists of:


• Water - 1 gallon of water per person, per day, for at least 3 days, for drinking and sanitation


• Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a can opener


• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both


• Flashlight and extra batteries


• First aid kit and Emergency reference material such as a first aid book


• Whistle to signal for help


• Dust mask - to help filter contaminated air; plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place


• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation


• Wrench, pliers or multi-tool


• Local maps, paper and pencil


• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger


Other things you should consider for your emergency kit are:

• Prescription medications and glasses


• Infant formula and diapers


• Pet food and extra water for your pet


• Cash or traveler's checks and change


• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.


• Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.


• Matches in a waterproof container


• Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items


• Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels


• Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


Be sure to include important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container in your emergency kit. In a situation where you cannot return home, or your home has been damaged, you may not have access to these essential documents.  You should also develop a plan with your loved ones of where you would meet (if you could not meet at your home) and how you would contact each other in the event of an emergency. 


Sometimes, phone lines or cell phone signals are tied up with emergency communications during a disaster, so it is important to have these plans in place.

Most communities in the United States do have plans that they would follow in the event of an emergency. It is essential to inform yourself of your community’s plans, which include: emergency shelters, animal shelters (if you can’t take your pets with you), multiple ways in and out of your community, local health care/hospital locations, and contact information for local law enforcement and rescue personnel. Some communities also have alert services, which send text messages or emails to let people know about bad weather, road closings and other emergencies. The best way to find out all of this information is to talk to your local Office of Emergency Management, Red Cross, or law enforcement/rescue agency.


When a disaster or emergency occurs, the most important thing for you to do is stay informed. Watch TV, listen to the radio, and use the Internet as often as you can to stay abreast of what is happening in your area. This information is crucial for you to decide if you should stay where you are or if you need to evacuate. Remember that in a disaster, you may be forced to rely on yourself and your loved ones for basic living needs, so having plans in place will give you the best chance at not only surviving, but recovering from a disaster.


For more information, check out Ready America, the FEMA Emergency Preparedness website at www.ready.gov or the American Red Cross website at www.redcross.org.


Do you need further information or have questions or comments about this article? Please call toll-free 1-877-530-1824. Or, for more information about the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, visit: http://www.wakehealth.edu/MACHE.




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