Preparing for natural disaster... whether it's a hurricane, tsunami, flood, or some other event...could mean the difference in survival. Taking the time to assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit to meet the basic needs of your household will help bridge the temporary loss of everyday conveniences. What would you do without food, water, and electricity? Your supply kit should be built around basic items which help cope with these and other personal hardships.
The time to prepare a disaster supplies kit is now. During an emergency, supplies will be in big demand and stores will run out of inventory quickly. And once disaster hits, there won't be time to search for supplies.
The American Red Cross recommends six basics to stock at home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy – to – carry container.
For more information, contact your county civil defense agency or local chapter of the American Red Cross.
Below are guidelines to consider for basic disaster supplies. Items most likely needed in case of evacuation are marked by an asterisk (*).
Store 1 gallon of water per person per day ( 2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation). Keep at least a 3 – day supply of water for each person in your household.
To purify water for safe drinking supply:
Boil vigorously 1 – 3 minutes.
Use purification tablets available at most drug stores. Follow package directions.
Use household bleach. (Must contain 5.24% hypochlorite) For one gallon of water, add 8 drops (⅛ teaspoon) if water is clear; if water is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon). For five gallons of water, if water is clear, add ½ teaspoon; if cloudy, 1 teaspoon. Let water stand at least 30 minutes before drinking.
Store at least a 3 – day supply of nonperishable food. Select items which don't require refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. * Include a selection from food listing below in your Disaster Supplies Kit. Suggestions:
Ready – to – eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables.
Canned juices, milk, soup. (If powdered, store extra water)
Staples – sugar, salt, pepper, etc.
High energy foods – peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
Foods for infants, elderly or persons on special diets. (Do not use left – over baby food if not refrigerated)
Comfort/stress foods – cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, instant coffee, tea bags, etc.
How long food remains frozen in the freezer depends on the amount, type, temperature, and freezer insulation. Keep freezer door closed for as long as possible to prevent loss of cold air. Large cuts of meat or poultry will stay frozen longer than baked goods or small items. In fully loaded separate freezers, food may remain frozen for 48 to 72 hours. Food thaws quicker in a refrigerator/freezer, but should remain frozen about 12 hours or longer in a side – by – side unit or up to 24 hours in a top or bottom – mount freezer.
Use refrigerated foods as soon as possible. It is difficult to make general recommendations about food safety as this depends on the type of food, its preparation and handling.
Butter, margarine, and hard cheese are safe unless mold or rancid odors develop.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as long as the are not mushy or slimy.
Eggs will be safe for several days if shells have no cracks.
Fresh meat, poultry, luncheon meats, or frankfurters should be discarded if allowed to warm to room temperature for more than two hours.
Milk and cream will probably be sour after eight hours without refrigeration.
Commercial (purchased) mayonnaise should be kept refrigerated once opened. Discard if left without refrigeration for more than two hours.
Vinegar and oil salad dressings, jellies, jams, may be left unrefrigerated unless they have been contaminated by poultry or meat juices. Discard if moldy: mustard, catsup, and pickles.
Previously frozen foods: Meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables can usually be safely refrozen if they still have ice crystals present or are very cold (40 degrees F or lower), but there will be some loss of quality. Refrozen foods should be used as soon as possible. When cooking, remember that refrozen foods have been thawed once. If thawing is necessary, do it in the refrigerator or microwave, not by thawing at room temperature.
Discard any food that has an off color or odor, or food that has warmed to room temperature for an unknown length of time.
Generally, if in question about the food safety, discard it.
NOTE. Most shelters in Hawaii are not equipped to provide meals, beds, or emergency care. You must bring food, clothing, bedding, and special items with you. Pets are not allowed in shelters. Contact your local humane society or vet for information on how to care for pets and livestock in a disaster.
Contact your local civil defense office or American Red Cross chapter for information on preparedness. See the Emergency Information section in the white pages of telephone directories for information and instructions.
Meet with family members to discuss what to do in an emergency.
Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster.
Pick two meeting places:
a location a safe distance from your home in case of fire;
a place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
Choose an off – island or out – of – state friend or relative as a "check – in contact" for everyone to call.
Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.
Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches.
Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test monthly and change batteries at least twice a year.
Contact your local fire department to learn more about fire hazards.
Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross for information and training.
Meet with neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster.