National disasters can happen at any given time and emergency preparedness is something we all should think about. Since I don’t live in tornado alley, in a flood plane, or even where a hurricane might hit, I’ve never really given it much thought. Yes, I have a pantry with enough canned goods and toilet paper to survive the occasional winter snow storm that Pittsburgh gets, but I’ve never really thought about preparing for a natural disaster.
That is until this week. Here in the United States we have…Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma getting ready to slam into Florida, with Hurricane Jose hot on her trail, and wild fires all over the North West. Any and all of these disasters can be cause for evacuation, loss of power, or flooding. It started me thinking about what we, as celiacs and NCGI, should do to be prepared for a natural disaster, especially one that causes us to leave our safe gluten-free environment.
So here is what I came up with:
Before disaster strikes
- Make a family plan – This one is extremely important, especially if you have school age children that could possibly be away from you when the disaster hits. Make sure everyone has all the important phone numbers and designate a trusted friend or family member who doesn’t live in the area to be the contact person for everyone. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:
- Different ages of members within your household
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Locations frequented
- Dietary needs – This one is very important for anyone with special dietary needs, but especially for Celiacs. Make sure you have enough safe food and water for you, and anyone in your family that needs to be gluten-free, to eat for at least seven (7) days. That is per person! Make sure you have safe food that can be taken with you if you must evacuate. The shelters are only going to have the minimum of food and it is very doubtful that they will have gluten-free foods. Remember, the last thing you want during an emergency or disaster is to be sick because you’ve eaten gluten. Plan ahead and be safe.
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment – I personally am not on any prescriptions, but my husband is, so we would have at least two weeks worth of his meds, on hand. I would hope that two weeks would be enough time for things to be getting back to some semblance of normal.
- Essential Oils – This is huge for me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use essential oils in some way. My essential oils help me support my immune system, stay focused, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Help with relaxation. All of which are super important during an emergency or disaster.
- Pets or service animals – Please, please, please do not leave your pets to die in a storm or fire. If you can’t take them with you, find someone to care for them. Make a kit of pet emergency supplies. Just as you would do with your family’s emergency supply kit, think first about the basics for survival, particularly food
and water. Here’s a list of things to consider:
Food: Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
Water: Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets, in addition to water you
need for yourself and your family.
Medicines and medical records: Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a
regular basis in a waterproof container.
First aid kit: Talk to your veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s
emergency medical needs. Most kits should include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape
and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol
and saline solution. Include a pet first aid reference book.
Collar with ID tag, harness or leash: Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag
and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet’s
emergency supply kit.
Important documents: Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption
papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof
container and also add them to your kit.
Crate or other pet carrier: If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation take your pets
and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so.
Sanitation: Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic
trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs. You can
use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency
you can also use it to purify water. Use 8 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon
of water, stir well and let it stand for 30 minutes before use. Do not use scented or color safe
bleaches or those with added cleaners.
A picture of you and your pet together: If you become separated from your pet during an
emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and
allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species,
breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
Familiar items: Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce
stress for your pet.
Consider two kits. In one, put everything your pets will need to stay where you are and make it on your own.
The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you and your pets have to get away.
- Households with school-aged children – Preparing for emergencies shouldn’t fall on your shoulders alone. Young children and teens alike need to be part of the process — for their own safety and sense of empowerment.
- Work together to build an emergency kit.
- Sit down as a family to talk about your communications plan.
- Role-play what you would do during a disaster.
- Hold fire drills in your house.
- Have a safe place to meet – If the disaster is a fire in your home, make sure you have designated a safe place away from your home for everyone to meet. That way you know that everyone is out safe or if someone is missing.
- Document your property – Take pictures of everything of value, write descriptions also, including the year, make, model number. For valuable items, you may want to get them appraised to determine the value of the item. Then store everything in zip lock bags to ensure that they don’t get wet or send everything to your email or the cloud.
- Make copies of all of your personal information and vital records – Store the copies in zip lock bags,inside plastic containers, high up, possibly the second floor if flooding is a possibility, or in the cloud.
- Be sure to have cash on hand – You will want to make sure you have enough cash on hand to make it through toll booths if evacuating.
I didn’t write the following, I saw it posted on Facebook. If you know who wrote this I would be more than happy to give them credit. But I thought the information was just too good not to include.
Hurricane advice. (Reposted. I did not write this.)
- For a big storm like Irma, you need enough water to drink for 7 days. The water does NOT have to be bottled. You can simply buy water containers and fill them with tap water.
- Get a plastic sheet to line the tub. Then you can fill your tub with water without it leaking out. You’ll use this to flush the toilet and for basic cleaning if the water goes out.
- Have enough food on hand to eat for 7 days – food bars and other packaged food is good.
- Buy a large number of Ziploc-like plastic bags – large and small. You’ll use them to protect papers and other valuables AND you’ll fill them 3/4 full of water and stuff the freezer full. Do that by midweek to be sure they are frozen when/if the power goes out over the weekend. It will keep the refrigerator colder. Do NOT set your fridge on the lowest setting.
- Get a portable radio that receives AM and FM. NOAA radio is good, but doesn’t get you information on evacuations and other instructions. Get batteries.
- Get LED flashlights and/or lanterns. They run forever on fewer batteries. But you still need plenty of extra batteries.
- Get large plastic bags. They are invaluable for keeping valuable things dry if you have a leak.
- Get large plastic boxes. If you put your valuables, photos, and papers in plastic bags inside the boxes, they will likely be okay.
- Get plastic sheeting and plenty of duct tape.
- Do your laundry this week! Lol
Just in case…..A few hurricane tricks for those who may need it:
- Start running your ice makers now and bagging the ice in freezer bags. Fill as much space in between your freezer items as you can.
- Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning or drinking in tupperware-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between the top of the water & the lids so the ice expands but doesn’t crack the container.
- Start using up your perishables to make more room for ice in the freezer.
- Fill up all vehicles & check tires & oil.
- Cash from ATM, at least enough to get you through tolls and gas out of town. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don’t freeze your card for out-of-area “suspicious” transactions.
- All important docs screenshot & send to your email. Take originals in sealed bags or plastic bins.
- Pet & livestock food & supplies. Vet records in case you need to shelter then at a storm-safe facility.
- Evacuation plans and share with family members so they know where you’re headed.
- Consider putting heirlooms & photos in plastic bins in a high place, second floor, or safe room if you don’t plan on taking them with you.
- SECURE ALL FIREARMS & AMMUNITION PROPERLY.
- Old rags & beach towels on your windowsills. Even with the best windows & shutters, water seeping from the wind pressure happens. A few damp towels is better than soaked drywall or floors!
- Shutter windows and doors and bring everything outside into your garage or house NOW. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early and relax than wait until its too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY PERSONNEL (hospital employee or first responder).
- If you don’t already have your hurricane supplies, you might want to get them now. Shelves are already empty in most places.
Be safe and remember you can find a lot of really helpful information on preparing for a natural disaster at ready.gov