By Carol Phillips
Over the past year, millions of people in our country have dealt with a wide range of life-threatening emergencies, including hurricanes, floods, blizzards, mudslides, and wildfires. While these are some examples of extreme situations, there are also countless minor emergency situations, such as short-term power outages, that can negatively affect our lives.
Practicing prevention and spending a small amount of time and money to better prepare for an emergency can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Here are some simple ways to better prepare yourself and your loved ones:
• Bottled water. Purchase gallon containers of water to have on hand. Clean drinking water needs to be high on our list of priorities because it is a crucial part of maintaining our health. Purchase a couple extra gallons to put in the freezer. During a power outage, frozen water can be moved from the freezer into the refrigerator to keep food cold (and edible) longer. Also, store water on each floor of your home in the event of being confined to one floor. For home owners not on municipal water systems who rely on wells, storing extra water is also necessary to have on hand during a power outage.
• Non-perishable foods. Remember to include a manual can opener. Keep a week of food on hand that your family will eat, including healthy snacks that need no preparation. Stock up on baby formula, powdered milk, and juice, if needed.
• Refill prescriptions ahead of time. Have any necessary over-the-counter medications on hand, as well. Stock up on extra toiletries, including toilet paper, hand sanitizing lotion, wipes, and diapers.
• Flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and extra batteries. Never use propane lanterns indoors.
• First aid kits. Be sure kits are well-stocked with bandages, antibiotic cream, gauze, ace bandage, and scissors.
• Smoke and CO2 detectors. Working alarm systems have saved countless lives. Change the batteries twice a year and be sure exhaust pipes on the outside of your home and your car are cleared of snow to vent properly.
• An escape plan. Discuss with family members where to meet to account for each person. Teach children how to be prepared and respond in a wide variety of emergency situations.
• Keep cell phones charged and have a back-up charger, especially when severe weather has been predicted.
• Keep your vehicle stocked with emergency items, including blankets, changes of clothing, food and water, in case you become stranded.
• Keep extra blankets on hand in case of a power outage, especially during the cold season.
• Consider investing in a secondary heating source, such as a wood stove or a portable or whole-home generator to keep your family warm and safe. You’ll need a source of fuel, and remember, don’t ever run a generator inside. A trusted professional can provide assistance in running either type of generator.
These are just a few suggestions you can implement to stay safe and healthy. The key is to have the tools you need to survive and maintain health if you are unable to leave your home for an extended period of time, especially during emergencies when first responders may also be delayed or unable to reach you. Consider checking on your neighbors, especially if they are home-bound or elderly.
Practicing simple preventive measures can keep you and your family safe, healthy, and comfortable during a minor or major emergency. Visit https://www.ready.gov/ for more information on emergency preparedness.
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, helps businesses significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by prioritizing health, wellness, and safety practices. Health Design is a SHRM Recertification Provider. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.