Everyone looks forward to the arrival of spring weather. It’s a chance to get out of the house after the cold winter and enjoy the great outdoors. However, spring weather can be fickle and is often tumultuous. Thunderstorms and tornadoes are a common, sometimes catastrophic occurrence. Some pre-planning and a well-stocked emergency kit can help lessen the impact of a negative weather event.
First and foremost, your family needs to have a disaster plan. Each family member should know where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. This plan should include contact information for doctors, insurance companies, veterinarians and an out-of-state contact person.
Next, the single most important tool you need to have available is a weather radio. Weather radios can be programmed to broadcast alerts for storm watches/warnings. A unit with a battery backup will sound an alarm even when the power goes out. Disaster kits are easily assembled, by purchasing a few items at a time.
Finally, you should assemble an emergency kit that contains your disaster plan and emergency supplies. Keep it in an accessible location, so it is easily retrieved. Some of the very basic items that should be in every emergency kit are: flashlights, extra batteries, battery-operated or hand-crank radio, a first aid kit and water. Work gloves, toiletries and a basic tool kit may also be included. It is also a good idea to keep supply of cash available in your disaster kit, as ATMs and credit cards may be available following a storm event.
Here is a quick look at additional items to be included in your disaster kit. First, obtain a waterproof locker or plastic tote and find an easily accessible location for it. Stock it with three days supply of non-perishable food items and water for each family member. Food items include canned meat, fish, fruit and vegetables; cookies, candy, dried fruit; cereal bars, peanut butter, jelly and bread. Don’t forget a manual can opener.
Make sure you have a basic first aid kit packed as well. Contents should include bandages and gauze pads, antibiotic cream, alcohol, aspirin, bug repellant, sunscreen and any necessary prescription drugs.
Other items to consider including portable battery powered lanterns, emergency candles and holders, trash bags, duct tape, spray paint, rain ponchos and extra eyeglasses/contact lenses. If planning for small children, pack an appropriate amount of diapers, sanitary wipes, food and toys. Space permitting, it is probably a good idea to pack some entertainment items as well, such as playing cards, board games, magazines, and books.
Plan for three to four days of supplies, at a minimum
Update your kit, with fresh food and batteries, every six months
Keep your kit safe from the storm, but easily accessible
Don’t pack more than you can transport, in case you have to evacuate
Resist the urge to pack non-essential items, such as make-up and extra toys
Don’t use kit items for everyday use – you’ll need them later
Visit the Weather Center at your local Bass Pro Shops. You’ll find a large selection of weather radios, to fit every budget, as well as numerous other disaster kit supplies. Checklists for assembling a variety of disaster kits are easily found online. A good place to start is at www.redcross.org. Hopefully, you will never need to use an emergency kit, but you’ll be happy to have it, in the event you need it.