FIRST PERSON | With the news of Hurricane Irene heading to the northeast coast of the United States, the National Hurricane Center is advising residents to be prepared by having an emergency disaster kit. Those who could be affected by the oncoming storm are not the only ones who should have a kit ready for an emergency.
The recent earthquakes in areas that don’t normally experience them are a reminder that natural disasters can hit almost anywhere. For nearly 11 years, I lived in Colorado and thought I had gotten away from earthquakes. I felt safe in the knowledge that other than fire or a major snowstorm, the Rocky Mountain state was immune to most disasters. Then Colorado Tuesday experienced the largest earthquake it’s had in nearly 30 years.
Moving back to the West Coast, I realized the dangers of earthquakes and tsunamis were potential threats, but I was still shocked when we received a knock on our door about 2 a.m. on March 11, 2011. We had been living on the Oregon coast for less than three months when we were told we needed to evacuate.
Our area was under a tsunami warning, and as I got out of bed in a daze, the only thing I could think of to say was, “Really?!” This is a bad joke. It was no joke, and we had to grab what we could and head up to an evacuation center in the wee hours of cold, pitch-black morning. Emergency kit? We didn’t really have one.
We were fortunate that nothing happened, and finally, almost 12 hours later we were able to return to our home. That day was a wake-up call to the importance of an emergency kit. There is no area that is immune to natural disasters, and mother nature has proved that this week.
Here are the items you should store in case of emergency:
* one gallon of water per day, per person, with enough to last for a week.
* one week’s worth of food for every family member
* non-perishable food items, such as canned foods
* manual can-opener, plates and utensils
* first-aid kit
* cash and identification documents (such as a birth certificate or passport)
* warm clothes and protective weather gear
* water purification kit or household bleach and a eyedropper
* bucket for waste, along with hygiene supplies
* basic tools, flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries
* blankets or sleeping bags
* any special needs items for infants or the elderly, as well as medications .
Though you may never have to use your kit, one day it just might save your life. Be prepared.