The topic of individual preparedness has recently come into the forefront, as reports of downed cell phone communications and potential threats to infrastructure have been in the headlines. Couple that with the usual seasonal potential of weather-related emergencies, and it makes it even more plausible to look at what, as an individual, you can do to be prepared.
Some may not recall, but in 2003, North Royalton and much of northeast Ohio and beyond had a power outage, due to a problem with the electric grid, that lasted over two days. What would you do if there was no electricity or cell phone service? Stores, gas stations and banks could not operate. Do you have enough food, water and other necessities in your residence to survive?
The U.S. Government website, Ready.Gov is a great source of the various areas of preparation for individuals, families and communities. It encourages residents to make a plan, built a kit, know the risks and to share information with others about being prepared. The website even has an easy-to-use preparedness form where residents can simply fill out the information that may be invaluable in the future.
Know the Risks
In order to limit the impacts that disasters or events may have on individuals and families, it is recommended to know the risks. Although it is impossible to know all the risks that can be faced, there are things that can be done in advance, such as making a plan and gathering items needed for day-to-day life. Protecting assets can be as simple as ensuring that insurance coverage is up-to-date.
Make A Plan
It is recommended that residents talk to friends and family about how communication will take place before, during, and after a disaster or event. Revisit the plan on occasion to ensure the plan continues to be viable.
Build A Kit
Gathering supplies that will last for several days after an event is recommended. Make sure it will provide for everyone living at each location. “Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly,” according to government officials.
Share Preparedness Information
Share information about being prepared with friends and family. It is recommended that discussions with family about how to prepare for an emergency situation, such as what to do in case family members are separated. Ensure that each member has the information necessary to make decisions in order to be protected.
The North Royalton Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) has, in the past, issued the following recommendation: “You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.” As part of their training, CERT continues to train its members for disaster preparedness, but, as they mention, each resident should also prepare.
If the electricity goes out, make sure that your appliances are secure by purchasing a high-quality surge protector to plug them into. Have a phone with a handset that does not require electricity. If you have an electric garage door, make sure you know how to open the garage door manually. Make sure your vehicles are at least half full of gas at all times, as gas pumps require electricity. Consider purchasing a generator.
Organize an emergency supply kit, with enough supplies to last for at least three days for each household member. Preparedness kits should be customized to meet your household’s needs. The following is a recommended list of basic supplies that could be included in your kit:
Food/Drink for at least three days
One gallon of water per person per day
Ready-to-eat, non-perishable, canned meats, soups, fruits, vegetables
High energy foods (peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix)
Canned, bottled or boxed juices
Comfort foods (cookies, hard candy, cereals, instant coffee, tea bags)
Tools and Supplies
Flashlights and extra batteries
Battery-operated radio/Weather Radio/television
Paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
Camping equipment such as sleeping bags, camp stoves, lanterns
Cash, extra credit cards, traveler’s checks
Extra set of house keys/vehicle keys
Manual can opener/Utility knife
Basic tools (pliers, screwdrivers, hammer)
Shut-off wrench (to turn off household gas and water)
Manufacturer’s instructions for opening power-operated garage doors
Duct, electrical tape
Plastic sheeting
Plastic storage containers
Foam, plastic or insulated coolers for food storage
Bagged ice to surround food stored in coolers
Cell phone, extra battery and charger
Fire extinguisher
Signal whistle
Dust mask
Local maps
Toilet paper, towelettes
Soap, liquid detergent
Hand sanitizer
Feminine supplies
Plastic garbage bags, ties
Plastic bucket
Household chlorine bleach
Clothing and Bedding
At least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person
Sturdy shoes or work boots
Rain gear
Blankets or sleeping bags
Hats and gloves
Thermal underwear
Special Items
Medications (prescription and non-prescription)
Spare eyeglasses/contact lenses
Important family documents (store in a waterproof, portable container)
Board games, books, playing cards (for entertainment)
Part 2 of this series will deal with the Preparedness for Specific Situations.

Contributing Writer