Unprepared for a disaster? Stock a box

An easy­-to-make kit could help your family survive the unexpected


SAN ANTONIO - From a tornado to fast moving flood waters or a fire, disasters can leave you stranded in seconds.

“In an emergency, you don’t have time to think about ‘what do I need,’” said Scott Simmons, with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness.

He suggests stocking a water-tight storage container full of items you might need in case of an emergency. Keep it somewhere is easy to get to quickly on your way out of your home.

“You want to store your personal documents in a heavy duty plastic bag,” Simmons said.

In that bag, keep items like:

  • Social Security cards
  • birth certificates
  • marriage license
  • medical information
  • cash
  • checkbook
  • any spare credit cards
  • passport

Its also a good idea, says Simmons, to write down a list of important telephone numbers.

“A contact that's maybe out of the county or even out of the state because a lot of times during an emergency or disaster its easier to make a long distance call and get a connection than make a local call,” he said.

Also in your kit, include non-perishable food and water- enough for about three days. Simmons recommends one gallon per person per day.

“Every six months you want to go through your kit and pull out those items that have expired and replace them,” he said.

You should also pack a first aid kit, weather radio, flashlight, batteries, hygiene products, toilet paper, disposable plates and silverware, matches, duct tape, plastic sheeting and baby diapers and formula, if needed.

Keep an extra set of clothes in your kit for the whole family.

Simmons even suggests keeping a kit in your car or at your office because you never know when or where disaster might strike.

It is also a good idea to create an evacuation plan for your home so that all members of your family know what to do in an emergency. Pick a spot a safe distance outside the home where everyone should meet.

And don’t forget about some of the most vulnerable members of your family - your pets.

“It’s the same for humans,” said Hugo Vital, Communications Director for the Animal Defense League. “You’ll want enough food and water for them for about a week. And a lot of times owners don’t have collars or leashes for their pets, so you need to make sure you have collars and leashes, as well as tags.”

That can help reunite you with your animals should they stray or get lost during an emergency.

Keeping a generator on hand can also help you power necessities when you don’t have electricity.

“You’ll have access to power for your refrigerator, fans, TV and radios,” said Jim Tote, who works at Northern Tool and Equipment.

A 7,000 kilowatt generator could power those items, he says, and a 17,000 kilowatt generator could power the average house.

“Make sure its kept up off the ground because if it’s a flood situation and its sitting on the ground, that’s not going to be any good,” Tote said.

Generators can run anywhere from roughly $600 to a few thousand.  

For a list of recent stories Myra Arthur has done, click here.

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