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  • POWER OUTAGES AND NATIONAL DISASTERS. ARE YOU PREPARED?

    Saturday, April 14, 2012   /   by Alicia Angstadt

    POWER OUTAGES AND NATIONAL DISASTERS. ARE YOU PREPARED?

    Following Hurricane Earl has really kicked me in the but to be a little more prepared for a possible power outage or something worse like an emergency evacuation from our home. Would we be prepared? HUUUMMMM. Let's see. Historically, on any given day, my family is usually running out the door coat in hand, books, bags, purses and sometimes even food. We count heads, look for keys and someone typically asks "did we lock the door?" Yes we did, but things seem to move quickly. If we had to quickly get the most important things together, could we do it in just a few minutes? I would honestly have to say no.

    I have read many articles and informational booklets that provide helpful tips on survival of Natural Disasters and what items are deemed "important" items to have pre-packed or at least organized and ready to grab in an instant. You may only have ten minutes or less to grab your priority items. First you need to make a list of what those priority items are.

    Other than the obvious items like family members and pets, these items can include: medications and health supplies, first aid kits, flashlights and batteries, cell phones and cell phone car charger adapter, bottled water, non-perishable foods, battery powered or hand crank radio,coins or pre-paid phone cards and an out of the area contact and their phone numbers. You may also want to invest in a small fireproof safe to store social security cards, drivers licenses, birth certificates, wills, mortgage documents and any other important document, as well as a small amount of "emergency" cash.

    For information on national threat preparedness go to http://www.nationalterroralert.com/evacuation-plan/

    For additional information on emergency plans and to locate local offices of emergency management for alert services about road closings, local emergencies and inclement weather visit http://www.ready.gov/america/local/index.html and to create an emergency plan for your family simply go to http://ready.adcouncil.org/beprepared/fep/index.jsp

    I tested out the emergency plan above and it was very easy. You simply fill in your households information and print out your family plan and it also creates separate wallet emergency cards for each member of the family. Once you are done and have printed, it permanently clears your personal data.

    For long-term power outages where you are stranded at home, you may want to keep at least a two week supply of emergency items on hand. In addition to the items listed above, make sure you also have one gallon of water per person, per day for a minimum of 14 days. Some additional items are a corded phone that plugs into a wall phone jack (since most cordless phones don't work when the power is off), a source of heat, if in cooler months, such as gas log fireplace, wood burning stove or a propane or kerosene heater (use extra caution with kerosene and propane). You may also want to invest in a portable generator. With generators, invest in one in the spring or early summer. If you wait until winter or late summer during hurricane season, there may be a limited supply. You may also want to stock up on snow shovels and bags of salt or ice melt. These items should also be purchased before demand for them gets too high. Last winter we had heavy snow week after week here in Virginia and one shovel was not enough. By the time we made it through the two feet of snow in the truck to get to the local hardware store, they were closing and had already sold out of all types of shovels.

    Ideally, you should make storage at your home for your emergency items, so that you will know exactly where everything is when the time comes. Make sure you stock up on food items such as crackers, cereal and canned foods. Be sure not to forget that hand operated can opener! A cooler and ice is always needed along with paper goods, extra blankets and something for entertainment, like books, crossword puzzles or magazines. For those with pets, make sure you stock up on water, food and medications for them too. For further information on power outages and how to prepare for them go to http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/PowerOutage.pdf

    For information on tracking power outages log on to http://powerquality.eaton.com/blackouttracker/default.asp

    Get prepared, be safe and DON'T FORGET GRANDMA!