We cannot always control Mother Nature, but we can prepare ourselves for disasters. In order to be prepared, everyone should do three things: prepare an emergency supply kit, make an emergency family plan, be informed about the different types of emergencies that occur and the appropriate responses for each one. You may need to survive on your own after an emergency so make sure you have enough food, water, and other supplies to last you for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they can't always reach everyone immediately. Keep in mind that basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for an extended period of time.
Get a Kit
A basic emergency kit should include:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Additional items to consider including in your emergency supply kit:
- Prescriptions medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your 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
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding for winter months or if you are evacuating to a cooler climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper - When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Create a Family Emergency Plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes so it's important to plan in advance. How you will contact one another? How and where you will get back together? What you will do in different situations? Creating a family emergency plan will help you answer these questions. Some important things to consider in developing a plan:
- It may be easier to call someone long distance rather than locally in case of emergency. Make sure each member of your family knows the number and has enough change or a pre-paid calling card in case they need to use a pay phone to make the call.
- Inquire about the plans at places your family spends a lot of time: school, work, day care.
- To print out an emergency plan form from ready.gov, click here.
Recovering from Disasters
Coping with power outages. This site from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights healthy steps you should take to ensure food, water, and home safety after an extended power outage. Tips on the site address everything from guidelines on what to do with food in your freezer or refrigerator, to water purification procedures, to carbon monoxide poisoning protection.
Servicing your septic system. Once storm waters have receded, there are several things homeowners should consider regarding their septic systems. This site from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers frequently asked questions and answers on servicing septic systems after flooding. The site also includes links to contact information if assistance is needed from local health departments.
Managing flooding and mold. This site from the Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to providing information on cleaning up your home or office after a storm that has resulted in flooding, including addressing standing water and wet materials. The site offers basic information on addressing viruses, bacteria, and mold that can occur in the wake of a flood.
Removing fallen branches and trees. The CDC provides tips to help safeguard against injury as a result of removing fallen or partially fallen trees and tree branches, including information on properly using chainsaws in hazardous conditions.
Saving family treasures. These guidelines from The National Archives will walk you through preserving some of your family’s most treasured items that may have been damaged by flood waters. The guidelines range in topics from what do to with wet records, to salvaging family papers, to properly air-drying books, to caring for water damaged heirlooms.
Be Prepared for Specific Emergencies
For more information on specific emergencies, visit the Georgia Emergency Management Agency or click on one of the links below: