Thursday, January 14, 2010

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Lessons from Haiti: Get your Family & Baby Emergency Kit Ready



All these images I've been viewing from the coverage about the Haiti disaster have me thinking I need to update my emergency kit. Especially, if you are pregnant and/or have young children or an infant in tow, you may want to make sure your family is extra prepared to make it through long periods of time without electricity or communication.


We had a portable emergency kit I made in each car and one in the basement. Sometime this summer, we cleaned the cars an out went the kits and the various elements scattered about. I think the water and other stuff in the basement kit has expired. Yes, bottled water does have an expiration date.


The earthquake coverage also got me thinking about our decision to switch telephone service to FiOs by Verizon which is a voice over internet phone that relies on electricity. There is a backup battery in our basement that has a shelf life of 7 days. In case of a disaster, I'm screwed. With our traditional landline underground based telephone service we traded in, we wouldn't need electricity to communicate with the outside world should wireless phone towers get toppled. Granted, I live in DC and we aren't near a fault line and usually don't get hit bad too much by hurricanes and never ever get tornadoes, but there was 9/11 and we are quite close to the source of a constant terrorist target, the Nation's Capital.


Whew! So I did some research and came across this excellent list of items to have in your kit. Check it out. Get yourself prepared, people! (oh and these Tips from Wired magazine are a must read)


What Belongs in an Emergency Kit
When trouble strikes, it's helpful to have an emergency kit handy - something that's accessible to your entire family. Here are some things you may want to include in a waterproof container:
Food Items:
  • Bottled water
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Cookies, snacks
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned meat, fish
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned/boxed beverages
  • Fruit drinks
  • Peanut butter
Non-Food Items:
  • Plastic forks and cups
  • Napkins
  • Can opener (non-electric)
  • Batteries for flashlights and radio
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Charcoal
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Flashlights
  • Candles and matches
  • Clothing and bedding
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping bag and blankets
  • Washcloth and towel for each person
  • Soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Shaving kit
  • Contact lens solution
  • Hair care items and mirror
  • Dentures
  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Paper towels, toilet paper
  • Hearing aid batteries
  • Watch or clock
First Aid Kit:
Keep contents of first aid kit in a waterproof metal or plastic box.
  • Prescription medicines (four-week supply)
  • Bandages and Band-Aids
  • Antiseptic
  • Adhesive tape rolls
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Allergy medication
  • Insect repellent
  • First aid handbook
  • Scissors
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Safety pins
  • Thermometer
  • Needle (for splinters)
Items for Infants:
  • Small toys – don’t forget favorite stuffed animals
  • Clothes
  • Diapers and baby wipes
  • Milk or formula
  • Powders, creams or ointments
  • Bottles and nipples
  • Baby food
  • Sheets, blankets, rubber pads
  • Portable crib
  • Plastic bags
  • Pacifiers
You should also store some basic hand tools such as a hammer, nails, screwdrivers, wrench and small hatchet. These could be useful if you need to make emergency repairs to your home later. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the emergency kit is kept.
Develop an emergency plan, too!
Most public safety experts strongly recommend that you develop an "emergency plan" and review it with your family. Children may be at school and adults at work when the storm hits. Have a plan for getting back together in a safe place that you've all agreed on. Ask an out-of-state relative to serve as a central family contact point. Post the written emergency plan in a place where your family knows to look, and don't forget to add an extra copy to your emergency kit.

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