Disaster Preparedness for Southeast Missouri

Living in Southeast Missouri we are faced with several types of natural disasters. Tornado, earthquake and ice storms are the top three we are prepared for in our area. With some planning and basic survival skills you can also be prepared. There are many agencies that have useful information to help you prepare your family for any disaster. The basic things you need to have on hand at all times in your house is water, food and shelter.

Water is the most important. You need to have a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Since we live in a rural area, my family has one gallon of water per person per day and a ten day supply. I built up this supply by buying one and five-gallon jugs of water when they were on sale. I also have five cases of bottled water. This will get my family through any disaster. Other items I have are chlorine bleach and water purification pills. They are inexpensive and have a very long shelf life.

Food is a must. You need a minimum of a three-day supply of dry goods that can be eaten directly from the package or can be cooked over an open flame. Also, you can go with MRE meals, they are fantastic self-heating meals. Again, I have a ten day supply. Tuna, crackers, cereals, protein bars, canned meats, canned vegetables, boxed potatoes and a large variety of other dry goods fill my emergency closet. Including XMRE Blue Line, just in case if anything else failed. A can opener and basic cooking equipment are located with our food. I have taken a basic outdoor cooking class and can cook many things over a fire. I learned how to bake using a cardboard box as an oven. We keep a supply of charcoal available with our grill in case we need to cook using it. When they are calling for ice storms, we buy kerosene because we can cook on top of our kerosene heater. A fire extinguisher and waterproof matches are handy to have also.

XMRE Blue Line from XMRE on Vimeo.

Shelter is the third basic thing we need. We have two camping tents with our emergency supplies. We keep these in a location with sleeping bags and pillows. Also a change of clothing for each person along with a sturdy pair of shoes. We do change these out as the seasons change and the kids keep growing.

Other items in our emergency closet are flashlights, batteries, a NOAA weather radio along with a well stocked first aid kit. A whistle, dust masks, trash bags, baby wipes are in the closet. To accommodate sanitary needs, we keep a supply of plastic grocery bags and moist towelettes and toilet paper in a small tote by itself. We keep a wrench to shut off the gas and water. Everyone in my household knows how to turn off the gas, water and electric. A few other items that are not thought about are an extra pair of glasses, hygiene items, a list of phone numbers, copy of insurance policies and a cell phone charger. I keep a notebook along with a few ink pens in my supplies along with a variety of books, games, cards and other activities to occupy my children.

Our family does not have pets, young children or elderly. We do not have anyone on any types of medications. Those situations would call for more items to care for those people.

Our family goes over our disaster plan every few months. Find the plan that works for you and your family. Go over it regularly no matter how many times your kids roll their eyes at you. Should you ever find yourself in a natural disaster, your kids will thank you because they knew what to do.

How I Am Prepared for a Natural Disaster in Delaware

Delaware, which is less than 2,000 square miles in area, is packed with potential for natural disasters including tornado, hurricane, flood, nor’easter, winter storms, like a blizzard or ice storm that might make roads impassable or cause power outages, and summer droughts. A house being struck by lighting and potential of fire from other sources is also a possibility. I have the typical emergency preparedness kit with cash, flashlight, and other recommended items, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being prepared for natural disasters if you are planning on, or are forced to, stay at home.

Loss of Power

One winter left us without electric for a couple of days following a blizzard. Our heating system would not function and outdoor temperatures never rose above 40 degrees. Fortunately, we had the foresight to install a gas fireplace. The electronic ignition can be overridden to light the fireplace by match. We closed doors to the rest of the house and remained quite cozy until electric was restored. Our kitchen stove is also gas with an electronic ignition that can be overridden to light the stove with a match, allowing us to cook and make that ever-important coffee.

Batteries

We have a large supply of batteries, two flashlights, a battery-powered radio, plus a hand crank flashlight that also has a radio, alarm and jack adapters to charge a cell phone. We have three battery backups offering about one hour of power each to operate the television or notebook computer to be able to access news or get to the Red Cross online to track the location of relatives or to report our location and status for the benefit of relatives.

Maintain Constant Supply of Food and Necessities

Once I open a bag or container of food or personal care items, I immediately add that item to the grocery list. For instance, when I open a new bag of dog food, box of cereal, container of deodorant or a bulk-size package of toilet paper, I immediately add that item to the grocery list so there is an unopened backup in supply.

With the concern over loss of electric, I now focus more on canned foods and MRE meals, we like civilian types such as one from Eversafe, rather than frozen, and yes, I do recycle the empty cans. I still buy fresh vegetables and fruit, but those items in cans, in addition to canned tuna, tomatoes, soups and similar items, will carry us for a couple of weeks, maybe more.

Lots of Water

We live less than one mile from the river, so if our water supply is cut off, we can transport water in large plastic storage tubs to use to flush the toilet. For drinking and cooking, gallon containers of fresh water are in storage. I’ve also tucked away cleaned gallon milk cartons now filled with tap water for bathing or that we can boil for drinking (though it may be suitable for drinking as-is). A rain barrel will nourish the vegetable garden.

Other Emergency Preparedness

Being prepared before natural disaster strikes also means to ensure you have the proper insurance on your house, vehicle and possessions. I am also keen on not letting the car gas tank to drop below half full and I keep a five-gallon container of gas in the garage.

If my husband and I are not together when a natural disaster hits, cell phone service is not available to contact one another and the resulting damage prevents us from reaching the house, we agreed to meet at our business office. If it too is impacted, we will meet at the entrance to our town’s hospital. The hospital is a major medical facility for a large area of the state and if it too is impacted, the hospital may likely receive attention quickly from local rescue services.

Last Minute Snow Storm Preparedness

Taking the time to prepare for a winter snow storm shouldn’t happen after the weather man has already announced that the storm is on its way. But if you forgot to plan ahead for a snow storm and ice, and you have at least a few hours before it arrives, it’s not too late to prepare your home, your car and yourself.

Getting your home ready for the snow storm

To get your house ready for a winter storm, start with the basics. Do you have a snow shovel and ice melt? If not, buy them now. They will be marked up if the storm is looming on the horizon, but you might need them.

If you waited to the absolute last minute and the store is out of ice melt, consider picking up a bag of cheap clay kitty litter. The clay can help melt the ice, but more importantly, it will give you traction on top of it. Remember this for when we get to the car section.

Is your house already well-insulated against the cold? Winter snow storms are often accompanied by temperatures that are well-below zero and stay that way for extended periods of time. If you haven’t already done so, spend a couple hours winterizing your home.

Do you have exposed pipes? Pick up some heat wrap, it looks like tape, and wrap those vulnerable lines. It’s also a good idea to leave at least one sink dripping when the temperatures fall well below freezing. While at the store for ice melt, pick up a couple gallons of drinking water, just to be safe.

Check your emergency candles and flashlights. Do you have matches or extra batteries? Do the flashlights work? Buy an extra set of batteries for each flashlight and store them close to the flashlights.

Next, it’s time to look at your heat source. If the power goes out during the snow storm and stays that way, will your family be warm? Most newer gas furnaces have an electric ignition switch, so even with a gas heater, the house may get really cold if the electricity goes out. Have a plan in case it becomes too cold to stay at home.

Getting your car ready for the snow storm

In the final hours before a predicted winter storm, it seems like everyone is out getting gas. And, if your tank isn’t full, you should join the line.

While a full tank won’t automatically save you from frozen fuel lines, it can help. In the middle of the snow storm, if you have to leave your house to seek shelter elsewhere, you don’t want to have to try to get gas as well. While you’re there, top of the wiper fluid as nothing hampers visibility faster than dirty, salt-covered windows.

Consider buying a can or two of de-icer. These can be a lifesaver when the car gets iced over and you need to see out the front windshield, or if the locks are frozen. A word of caution though: De-icer doesn’t help if it’s inside the car.

Buy a 20-lb bag of cheap cat litter and put it in the trunk. Yes, you need the really big bag. First, it adds weight to the rear end of the car. Try to place it as close over the tires are you can. Second, it can provide traction when spread over ice. But if you need traction for all four wheels, you need a lot of kitty litter.

Consider the option of ammonium nitrate if you have a local feed store where you can buy it. This fertilizer creates a chemical reaction when dumped on an ice. Rock salt only works to a certain temperature, but the chemical reaction will work to temperatures well below freezing.

Buy a cheap backpack or get “go bag” and stuff it with bottled water and non-perishable foods such Blue Line from XMRE. Poptarts are always an easy option as are granola bars or energy bars. Keep this along with some extra blankets, extra gloves and a small shovel in the backseat of the car. If you keep it in the trunk, the water will likely freeze.

Getting yourself ready for the snow storm

Stop by the library and pick up a couple books to read if the cable goes out or the power goes off. If you have children at home, think about grabbing some videos or board games to keep them occupied during the storm.

Stop at the grocery store and buy the makings for sandwiches, even if it’s just peanut butter and jelly, in case you lose power and can’t cook. Of course, you do not have to if you already have some meals ready to eat.

Finally, treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate and settle in to ride out the snow storm. After all, your prepared and ready for it. Now, you can just enjoy the silence.

Stock Up on Family Supplies for Disaster Preparedness

Often when we think of stocking up on supplies it’s food that comes to mind. There are many other things that may be needed to make uncertain times much more comfortable. These items can increase comfort, which can boost spirits more than you can imagine during stressful times.

Vitamins are something to always have on hand. Extra boosts of immunity and staying healthy may call for increased supplementation. It’s an inexpensive price to pay when they’re available, but they may not be in a crisis situation.

Hygiene supplies make a world of difference. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash and floss, nail clippers, soap and other basic supplies are often overlooked but add up. Men’s and women’s hygiene supplies are another basic comforts – skin creams, razors, aftershave, shaving cream, talc, antibacterial and waterless soaps, baby wipes and ointments are all important.

Remember there may not be items available in stores, and it may be days before someone can get to you. A county in Tennessee was cut off from communication for days, with no awareness of the devastating floods elsewhere. Travel to get to you may be interrupted, so be sure to have enough on hand.

Baby supplies if needed are often overlooked – diapers and formula are essential. Aspirin and other mild health care items can make a difference and allow prioritizing for those seriously injured when help does arrive.

Don’t forget clothes. Thermal underwear, both shirts and pants, and woolen clothing can be a lifesaver if blizzards take out electricity or other issues expose you to cold weather. Don’t forget scarves, ear muffs, hats, cotton neckerchiefs, gloves and mittens for all members of the family. Clean socks, underwear and shirts that allows for extras can mean a much more comfortable time.

Ideally, these items will be easy to transport and safely stored. Remember this is for survival. Blankets, sleeping bags and other items should be easy to grab. Also, keep on hand cots or inflatable mattress with a way to inflate it.

These are all items we often don’t think of when minutes count. All can easily be stored in “go bags” for fast evacuations. When minutes count and your life is on the line you’ll be happy to be alive, but you’ll be much more comfortable with items that ensure being able to complete basic tasks.

Several years ago in California a mudslide across the highway meant I couldn’t get home. I had a cot and sleeping bag with me, crates in the back of the truck for the dogs and basic supplies. The shelter didn’t have any more room or cots available but because I had my own I was able to be warm and dry, as were my dogs. They couldn’t come into the shelter but were much more comfortable in familiar crates in the vehicle than with strangers or abandoned. Ideal circumstances usually aren’t fitting for such situations, but the best available choices are increased if you have basics for yourself. Work towards this goal every week!

Hope you don’t ever need it, but if you do you’ll be glad to have it!