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Get Act Together: Disaster Preparedness Month Is Right Now

Editor’ s note: The following column was compiled by Carlene Mac- Pherson, a Kailua resident and president of the Windward Neighborhood Security Watch Coordinators Group.

Sept. 1 was the beginning of FEMA’s Disaster Preparedness Month, and the recent hurricane, flooding, and tornado activity are reminders that everyone needs to be ready.

Here are some ideas:

1) Determine your needs if the power were to go out. Would you still have a water source? Many community water sources depend on electricity to get the water to you. Can you power needed medical equipment? How would you prepare meals for your family? Have plenty of non-potable water available for flushing toilets, cleaning, etc. Perhaps you may invest in a generator — something small enough to provide your family with enough power for the refrigerator and easy to operate. Flashlights, batteries and a portable NOAA radio (There are new devices that will actually charge USB units!) Try to avoid using candles as the open flame creates another hazard: fire.

2) Can you pool your efforts with other family members or neighbors? Basic needs can often be shared and utilized more efficiently. Work with your family and neighbors to help each other. Could you share a grill? Could you share an ice chest?

3) Drinking Water. The rule of thumb for drinking water: One gallon per day per person in a home. So, for a family of four to sustain 72 hours (minimum) would require 12 gallons of potable drinking water.

4) Don’t forget about your pets. Discuss specific needs for your animals. They’re similar to family requirements but obviously a little different. Stock up on food and medications. If you need to evacuate, your pet will need to be placed in a carrier.

5) Family activity kit: Especially important for families with young children. When storms or incidents interrupt our daily life, power, the Internet and cell phone service may be affected. A small kit with playing cards, board games and coloring books with crayons can serve as a perfect distraction to what’s happening in the real world.

6) Family plan: Dedicate yourself to preparing your family during the first week of September. Find out what they would do if you weren’t available. See if they can answer these questions: How would you communicate? Where would you meet, if you were separated? Are there family members out of state who you would need to notify? How long could your family be OK if you weren’t around to immediately help? Who could step in until you got home? Post your plan where it can be readily found (refrigerator, behind front door).