A collection of items necessary to survive in the aftermath of a disaster
An earthquake hits. A category 5 hurricane leaves a coastal city demolished. An ice storm takes down trees and power lines. After a disaster occurs, your primary focus should be to first, assess the situation and second, move to a safe location if necessary. Next comes securing food and potable water for you and your dependents. Obtaining an adequate supply of food and water in a crisis situation could be at best difficult and at worst impossible unless you already have a supply of food specifically set aside for an emergency. Most grocery stores operate on a “just in time” method of inventory control. On any given day, a typical grocery store will inventory a supply of stock to last approximately three days; however, increased demand can render this three-day stock insufficient. You only have to experience the rush on a grocery store when a snow storm is approaching to know that a three-day supply can disappear in hours.
The key to ensuring you and your loved ones have an adequate supply of life-saving food and water is to prepare BEFORE anything happens. FEMA and Red Cross recommend at the very least to have a 72-hour supply of food and water stored away for each family member. There are numerous types of emergency foods on the market which can make the task of building an emergency food supply complicated and time-consuming. To simplify this task, we recommend you begin building your food supply with high-calorie, vitamin enriched food bars such as the ER 2400 Calorie food bar. The ER Food Bar was formulated to contain 72-hours’ worth of calories and nutrition in one compact package that can be safely stored for up to 5 years. 3600 calorie food bars are available for those with higher calorie needs. These bars are a convenient addition to bug-out bags and home, office or classroom survival supplies.
You can supplement the ER Food Bar with additional non-perishable food items as needed such as canned goods and preserved meats, but be mindful of expiration dates. According to the USDA, canned goods do not necessarily spoil due to the commercial method of preserving food but they will lose nutritional value. Low-acid containing canned food such as fruits and tomatoes should be consumed within 24 months for optimal taste and quality. Low-acid canned goods such as meats and vegetables should be consumed within 2 – 5 years depending on the storage conditions. Although studies have been conducted that show canned goods could potentially last for much longer than these guidelines, it is a good practice to rotate your survival goods and throw any cans away that are dented or rusted. Consider adding Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) to your survival supply. Depending on the storage conditions, their shelf life can vary but MREs offer a diverse selection of food choices. According to studies conducted by the U.S. Army Natick Laboratory, shelf-life on MREs can range from 18 months to 84 months depending on the temperatures at which they are stored. Higher temperatures reduce the shelf-life while stable, lower temperatures extend shelf-lives. For longer term survival, freeze-dried goods are available with shelf-lives ranging from 10 – 25+ years. Be cognizant that many freeze-dried foods require water to rehydrate them. Take into consideration this possibility when planning your emergency water supply.
The most fundamental need for human survival is fresh water. Depending on the severity of the disaster, your home could be without potable water for several days or more. Stores may be stripped of bottled water leaving you completely dependent on your emergency supplies. An emergency water supply should contain 72-hours of water per person in the household. This equates to about 1 gallon per person. ER Water Pouches are a cost-effective and dependable solution for drinking water in an emergency. Each Tyvek pouch is hermetically sealed to maintain the water’s freshness for up to 5 years. Six pouches of ER water are all you need to keep a healthy person adequately hydrated for 72-hours. These pouches are easily stored indoors or outdoors in a bug-out bag or home survival kit and are a practical solution for drinking water. Keep in mind store-bought water bottles have a limited shelf life especially when stored in an area that experiences wide temperature fluctuations. On the website www.ready.gov/water, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends bottled water be consumed by its “use by date” which can range from 6 months to a year. As with canned goods, these guidelines are subjective but exercise caution and periodically replenish your emergency water.
When faced with an emergency situation, drinking water is primary in importance, but you also need to consider a clean supply of water that can be used for cooking and cleaning. For that reason, FEMA and the Red Cross recommend 1 gallon/person of water be stored for each person. Consider keeping a 55-gallon drum of treated water outside your home or inside your garage or basement. The water barrel sold on QK.com is specifically designed to block harmful UV rays from penetrating the barrel thus ensuring the safe storage of water both indoors and outdoors. One bottle of Water Preserver Concentrate will treat 55-gallons of water for 5 years. After 5 years, simply empty the water out of the barrel, fill it up with fresh water and retreat it to last another 5 years.
Disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Don’t fall under the misconception that your area is immune to an emergency. You will never regret being prepared for a disaster, but you will regret not preparing for one. If your survival food and water are nearing their expiration dates, move it to your pantry and consume it. Donate the ER bars to your local food pantry or homeless shelter and freeze the ER pouches to use as ice packs. There is no need to waste money. Just remember to replenish your survival supply. Need advice on what you need to prepare your family? Call us at 800-277-3727.
March through August is tornado season in the United States, where some 1,000 tornadoes hit every year. Be prepared. Tornadoes are more powerful than any other storm: They can toss freight trains like toys and throw your house down the block.
If you live in one of the top ten tornado states identified in order below, be smart and prepare yourself and your family for unexpected disaster:
Florida is hit by more tornadoes than any other state in the U.S. and, also, also by more severe thunderstorms than any state.
Oklahoma is the heart of what meteorologists call Tornado Alley. Its weather patterns often make warm and cool air collide — ideal for creating tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms.
Kansas is where a mammoth twister whisked Dorothy and her little dog Toto to Oz, but it’s also where thousands of people are caught unprepared for damaging storms every year.
Iowa was clobbered by 28 tornadoes in 2013 and averages of about 50 damaging thunderstorms every year.
Illinois experienced one of its deadliest years on record for tornadoes in 2013. Storms generated widespread flooding and cut power in more than 160,000 homes and businesses.
Indiana ranks second in the nation for the costs of tornado damage, sixth for the number of deaths and seventh for the number of personal injuries.
Mississippi averages 29 tornadoes per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its coastal regions are hit by devastating hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
Maryland ranks in the Tornado Top Ten because of its mid-south and Atlantic Ocean weather patterns generate many twisters and serious thunderstorms.
Louisiana ranks second in the U.S. for the most thunderstorms annually and as a result, and averages 37 tornadoes per year.
Texas averages 155 tornadoes per year – the most of any state — but its land mass is so large it ranks 10th in the U.S. per tornadoes every 10,000 square miles.
A school emergency doesn’t have to be a terrorist attack. It can be the flu spreading like wildfire through the school, it can be a tornado drill or it can be a bad ice storm that knocks out power. But no matter what kind of emergency strikes your child’s school, they should have an emergency plan.
Does your child’s school have an emergency plan in place? Have you asked? If not, find out if the school has a crisis team. You may be able to volunteer to help establish one if there isn’t one already in place.
A school crisis team should be responsible for teaching staff how to handle various disaster situations including:
Chemical or hazardous material spills
Student or staff deaths (suicide, homicide,
unintentional, or natural)
Acts of terror or war
Outbreaks of disease or infections
According to the Department of Education, each event can be handled by breaking it down into the following sequence of crisis management.
1. Mitigation/Prevention addresses what schools and districts can do to reduce or eliminate risk to life and property.
2. Preparedness focuses on the process of planning for the worst-case scenario.
3. Response is devoted to the steps to take during a crisis.
4. Recovery deals with how to restore the learning and teaching environment after a crisis.
While you may not be involved in the actual crisis management planning, it is good to ask about these things for your own peace of mind. Find out how the school will handle various situations and how parents will be notified of disasters. Also make sure each classroom has a disaster kit and each teacher knows how to use it.
Do you keep potassium iodide in your emergency kit? If not, you may want to consider it, especially if you live near a nuclear plant. And you may be surprised to know that nearly 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of a nuclear plant. Many of these plants are pretty old, and the older they are, the greater the chance of an accident.
Some may think it paranoid, but you really should take some extra precautions if you are close to a nuclear plant. Not sure how close you are? Use this handy tool that allows you to put in your zip code and then tells you the distance to the nearest nuclear plant. The results may surprise you.
Even if you are as far as 50 miles away from a nuclear plant, if there is an accident, the water, crops and livestock could be rendered unusable because of radioactive iodine. If you ingest food or even breathe air that has been contaminated with radioactive iodine, which is then absorbed by the thyroid gland, the thyroid is damaged, which could lead to life-long thyroid issues.
If someone exposed to contaminated food or air takes potassium iodide, it gets absorbed by the thyroid instead of the radioactive iodine in contaminated food, thereby protecting the thyroid from damage.
When Should You Take It?
According to the CDC, Emergency Management officials will notify the public if it is necessary to take potassium iodide. You may also be told not to consume certain foods or drinks.
How Much Do You Take?
Adults, including breastfeeding women, should take 130 mg of potassium iodide. Children between 3 and 18 should take 65 mg, and infants that are 1 month old up to 3 years old should take 32 mg. Newborns up to one month old should take 16 mg.
You should find out if you are allergic to iodine or if you have certain skin conditions that are sensitive to iodine. Side effects can include stomach upset, allergic reactions, rashes and inflammation of the salivary glands.
The government only has enough potassium iodide for people within a 10 mile range of a nuclear plant, however, damage can occur as far as 50 miles from a plant.
Because it may be difficult to get potassium iodide in an emergency, it is a good idea to keep some on hand. It is available as a tablet that can be cut to tailor dosing.