Why prepare for a disaster?

Joyce Knorr Aroostook County Branch Manager, Special to The County
17 years ago
    A few weekends ago, Aroostook County residents were warned of severe thunderstorms that would occur in our area. Many of the storms were ultimately very severe resulting in power outages, and disruption in water, sanitation, and communication services for nearly two days. Many residents felt a bit uncomfortable not having the typical every day basic services that we all, sometimes, take for granted.
Stop and think for a moment – what would you do if you had to evacuate your home or workplace immediately due to a major storm, earthquake, winter storm, flood or terrorism? Disaster can strike without warning forcing you to go for days without the basic necessities. Relief workers such as the Red Cross, law enforcement, fire department, and Emergency Management Agency officials will be on the scene following a disaster, but may not be able to reach you immediately or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere for a while. You need to be ready! You should plan to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation.
Planning ahead is the first step to a calmer and more assured disaster response. What you have on hand when a disaster happens can make a big difference. Build a kit that will store supplies for everyone in your household for at least three days. Here are a few suggestions for building a personal emergency kit:
Water – Have at least one gallon per person per day.
Food – Pack non-perishable, high protein items. Select foods that require no refrigeration, cooking and little or no water.
Flashlight – Include extra batteries.
First Aid Kit – Include a reference guide. Also include a bottle of bleach to purify water.
Medications – Don’t forget prescription and non-prescription items, eyeglasses, contact lenses and solution.
Radio – Include extra batteries.
Tools – Manual can opener, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting and garbage bags and ties, and a whistle to signal for help.
Clothing – Provide a change of clothes for everyone, including sturdy shoes, gloves, and blankets.
Personal items – Copies of important papers, identification cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, money, and matches in a waterproof container, etc.
Comfort items – Like small toys, books, crayons, puzzles.
Sanitary supplies – You may need toilet paper, towelettes, feminine supplies, and personal hygiene items.
Contact information – A list of family phone numbers and e-mail addresses, including someone out of the area who may be easier to reach if local phone lines are out of service or overloaded.
Pet supplies – For each pet include food, water, a collar, leash, cage or carrying case, liter box, plastic bags and any medications and vaccination information. Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of states’ health and safety regulations and other considerations except for service animals. Don’t wait till a disaster strikes, contact family and friends to see if they could shelter your animal.
Map – Consider marking an evacuation route on it from your local area.
Include any necessary items for infants, seniors and people with disabilities in your kit, like extra diapers, formula, extra batteries for wheelchairs or oxygen medications, and food for guide or service dog.
Keep a smaller version of this kit in your vehicle. If you become stranded or are not able to return home, having some items with you till help arrives will make you feel more comfortable. The Red Cross has pre-assembled kits for sale that can be customized accordingly to a person’s needs. Please contact Judi Greenier at 762-5671 if you are interested in purchasing a kit.
Being prepared can reduce the fear, anxiety, and distress you and your family may face. It is important to think about how to prepare for a variety of emergency situations and how to persevere during and after a disaster.
The Aroostook County Branch of the American Red Cross-Pine Tree Chapter is working closely with area Emergency Management Agency (EMA) directors and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to ensure public shelters are in place and ready to meet the needs of community members should a disaster occur. Red Cross Disaster-Preparedness trainings are being planned and will be held quarterly beginning late fall.
If you would like more information on planning for a disaster or if you are interested in attending disaster preparedness training, please contact your local Red Cross office at 762-5671 or e-mail arc.aroostook@ainop.com. You never know how many people your actions will affect or what a difference you will make by taking steps to plan ahead.
The Aroostook County Branch of the American Red Cross-Pine Tree Chapter helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Out of every dollar the Red Cross spends, 92 cents is invested in disaster preparedness and response. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on the generous monetary contributions of community members, businesses, civic organization, and towns along with the dedication of volunteer time to do its work.