Friday, June 19, 2009

Don’t be scared, be prepared! Book offers tips for preparedness

Don’t be scared, be prepared! That’s the mantra of Kathy Harrison, author of Just In Case: How to Be Self-Sufficient When the Unexpected Happens, a family-friendly preparedness guide.

To be prepared for anything from a flood to a pandemic, Harrison says that everyone should have at least the following basics:

* plans for communicating and reuniting with family during a crisis;
* a one-week supply of food and water (PDF) for each household member;
* a portable radio with extra batteries;
* back-up copies of all important documents stored in a safe place;
* an emergency car kit with water, light sticks, road flares, unbreakable cup or mug, wool blankets, etc.;
* a back-up heat source (for cold climates);
* emergency lighting, such as flashlights, candles and kerosene lamps; and
* an evacuation kit for each household member.
When putting together your evacuation kit — a backpack is a great way to store and tote emergency supplies — ask yourself: If I had to live out of this bag for three days, what would I need to stay safe and healthy? Here are some things that Harrison’s book recommends: flashlight, trash bags, whistle, water jug, water purification tablets, soap and washcloth, space blanket, energy bars, first aid kit, matches, a change of clothing, toilet paper, insect repellant and sunscreen.

If the idea of gathering all of these supplies sounds unrealistic, use the “OAR” system, suggests Harrison:

* Organize — Think about your risks (are hurricanes common where you live?) and plan storage spaces for all the supplies you’ll need.

* Acquire — Develop a schedule for building up your supply of all the food, water and additional items you’ll need during an emergency.

* Rotate — Occasionally rotate your stored items with your normal supply to make sure food is fresh and medications haven’t expired.

Just In Case also includes tips for improving your “skills for independence.” It teaches you how to do cool things like purify water using basic household items, dehydrate and can food, and even make your own cheese and yogurt.

The idea of preparing for an emergency can be overwhelming and scary. Books like this one provide lots of useful tips that make it easy to be prepared. You may want one on your bookshelf, just in case.

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