Power outages and other emergencies are unexpected. While they can happen anytime, they are likely during winter storms. Taking the time to plan ahead can make the difference between being comfortable or suffering.
Families need essentials like drinking water, food, medication, first aid, staying warm and dry. Additionally, a device for communicating with the outside world should not be overlooked. Make sure to have a charging cable and a power bank for each phone.
Store the phone numbers of local emergency agencies and extended family members in the contacts. Do not forget to write them down as well.
Also, add the local emergency alert system to cell phones. This is separate from the Presidental Alert System already present on phones. For national alerts, register online at https://www.publicalerts.org/ and Google emergency alerts for the area.
Consider buying a generator strong enough to power a refrigerator, microwave or portable cooking element, a portable heater, and charge a cell phone for emergency communication would keep a family safe while waiting out an emergency.
Create an Emergency Supply Kit
FEMA recommends the following list for families, seniors, and pets:
- Prescription medication and glasses.
- Infant formula and diapers.
- Pet food and extra water for the pet.
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change.
- First Aid Kit. A whistle for signaling for help.
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information found at www.ready.gov/.
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation.
- Non-perishable food; at least a 3-day supply. If kit includes canned food add a hand operated can opener.
- Flashlight with extra batteries. Battery-powered or hand crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
- Solar or battery powered
- Fire extinguisher.
- Dust mask for each person to help filter out contaminated air. Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if living in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Extra socks and shoes. Consider additional clothing if living in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners.
a) When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, the solution can be used as a disinfectant. Its effectiveness does not matter whether the water is hot or cold. The disinfectant properties only last 24 hours.
b) Emergency drinking water can be created by adding 16 drops of bleach to one gallon of water.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities. The video below demonstrates how to turn off the gas line to the house.
- Matches in a waterproof container.
- Personal hygiene items and feminine supplies. Towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation. An outdoor portable toilet.
- Mess kits; paper towels, cups, plates, and plastic utensils.
- Local maps. Paper and Pencil. Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for children and adults.
The FEMA website, https://www.fema.gov/ offers extensive emergency information. Choosing the Navigation icon readers will discover the agency’s data list.
It is important to learn about the potential natural disasters in the area, and past extreme weather events to prepare for the worst possible situation.
See Parts 2 and 3 for further Emergency Preparedness and Safety for Families.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Ready.gov: Plan Ahead for Disasters
FEMA: Important Things To Know Before a Disaster
FEMA: Emergency Supply List
Public Alerts: About Public Alerts
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Rick Cochran – Used With Permission