Sandy’s devastation reminds us to be prepared

A week after Hurricane Sandy roared up the East Coast thousands a still without power and many are faced with the daunting task of rebuilding their homes — and lives — in the wake of this powerful storm.

This tragedy serves as a reminder of the importance of being ready for a crisis, whether it’s a hurricane, blizzard, fire, or a man-made event.

Josh Frances, MPH, an expert in emergency preparedness, says “personal preparedness is huge,” and goes a long way to riding out a crisis situation. Unfortunately, too many wait of us until the last minute. “Grocery stores are so crowded just before a storm because people don’t prepare,” he says. “And you don’t have to be doomsday about it — just be simple about it.”

Some important steps to take before a potential situation arises:

  • Check your flashlights and battery supply. Avoid candles — they can be a fire hazard
  • Stock a supply of water for drinking and washing-up
  • Keep some cash on-hand in case ATMs and credit card processors are down
  • Prepare a first aid kit
  • Conduct an inventory of items needed for infants (diapers, formula, etc.) or elderly family members (medications, etc.)
  • Charge your cell phone, iPad, and other communication devices
  • Fill your tub with water (for flushing toilet)
  • Test your generator and check for gas/oil
  • Gather basic tools for emergency work: hammer, nails, wrench, saw
  • Fill your vehicle with gas
  • Listen for, and heed any orders to evacuate

Grab and go
Finally, prepare an emergency grab bag in the event you have to make a quick exit. Include anything you may need if away from home for a couple of days:

  • Clothing
  • Cash
  • Flashlights
  • Medications
  • Emergency radio
  • Contact information of family, friends, work, etc.
  • Non-perishable food and water
  • Pet food and medications

Emergency preparedness is something we all should do, but hope we never need.

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