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Serving people with disabilities during and after Isaac

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Even before Tropical Storm Isaac hit the Gulf coast, FEMA disability integration specialists from across the nation were preparing to travel to the areas that would be hardest hit. There, they would join other FEMA personnel and countless others from voluntary and community organizations, local, state, federal and tribal government, and the private sector who would answer the call to help the survivors of Isaac’s lingering and widespread deluge of rain and wind.

Right now, FEMA has seven Disability Integration Advisors serving in Louisiana and Mississippi. Their expertise is guiding the actions of the officials who lead FEMA’s response in areas hardest hit by Isaac. They are experts in disability inclusive emergency management who use their knowledge to prevent, address or solve problems for individuals with access and functional needs and their communities. 

Our Disability Integration Advisors work with state and local government officials to coordinate and advise on issues such as:

  • The availability of accessible transportation,
  • Evacuations from nursing homes, group homes, assisted living facilities, and people served under state programs, such as mental health and developmental disability programs,
  • Access to prescription medication,
  • Access to medical, personal assistance services and durable medical equipment in shelters. 

On a daily basis, they also address the need for access to effective communication such as remote and in-person sign language interpreting, captioning services, public lines in support of video phones and caption phones.  In addition, they reach out specifically to the disability community in the affected area and facilitate collaboration with federal, state, local and Tribal government concerning evacuation, application for FEMA assistance, accessible messaging, and cleanup tips. 

Often, advisors have the opportunity to talk with disaster survivors and help them firsthand.  Linda Landers, one of our Disability Integration Specialists, is working in Louisiana where she recently helped a mother and her adult son who has a spinal cord injury. After several days without power, they were forced to make a decision to shelter in place or travel from Jefferson Parish to a shelter in Baton Rouge. When the family decided to shelter in place, Linda made sure that local emergency responders and emergency management were aware of their decision and knew how to contact them. Throughout the night and next day, Linda checked in with them to be sure they were not in danger.  The power has since been restored and all are doing well. 

Ongoing support for recovery

As FEMA and the states began setting up Disaster Recovery Centers, FEMA disability integration advisors assessed conditions to determine potential issues, such as physical accessibility so people using wheelchairs can easily enter a building or area. They also looked for equipment that ensures effective communication by people who have low vision or are blind and others who are hard of hearing or deaf when filing assistance claims in Disaster Recovery Centers.

Here's an example of some of the equipment that is available at a center:

FEMA’s Disability Integration Advisors will continue to ensure those with access and functional needs have equal access to the assistance and services available after Isaac. Visit our webpage to learn more.

 

FEMA Youth Preparedness Council Kicks Off

This week members of the FEMA Youth Preparedness Council attended their inaugural meeting in Washington, DC to discuss steps to strengthen the nation’s resiliency against all types of disasters.

Council members had the opportunity to share their ideas, experiences, solutions and questions on youth disaster preparedness with FEMA leadership including Administrator Craig Fugate, Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, and Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness Tim Manning, other federal agencies and national organizations.

When meeting with the council, Administrator Fugate explicitly charged the Council with holding the agency accountable to the unique needs and interests of youth in emergencies. The Administrator encouraged the members to continue their community-based preparedness efforts but also pressed them to be candid about where and how FEMA can improve. 

youth preparedness council

Washington, D.C., Aug. 7, 2012 -- FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate takes a group photo with members of the National Youth Preparedness Council. The Council met with Administrator Fugate and discuss steps to strengthen the nation's overall resiliency.

The Council brought special insight to how FEMA and others can continue to use social media technology both to engage youth in preparedness activities and to organize youth volunteers during the response and recovery phases of a disaster.

The Council will continue their work of contributing to the national agenda for how young people play a role in emergency management through their regional work and specific projects that they will commit to execute during the coming year. Projects ranged from expanding Teen Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) within their region and conducting a preparedness day fair in their community to creating a celebrity-driven preparedness campaign.

Youth Council members were recently selected through a nomination process for their work engaging communities in local preparedness. The council consists of 13 members ranging in age from 13 to 17 and a chairperson.

To learn more about FEMA’s youth preparedness efforts please visit: http://www.citizencorps.gov/getstarted/youth/youthindex.shtm.

To learn more about each council member visit: http://www.citizencorps.gov/getstarted/youth/youthpreparednesscouncil.shtm.

Updates from the National Preparedness Symposium

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Our National Preparedness Symposium is currently going on and includes stakeholders across all areas and levels of emergency management, discussing how to increase emergency preparedness in a way that builds community resiliency.  We will continually update this blog post throughout the Symposium as we get perspectives from those on the forefront of making their communities and America better prepared for emergencies.

(Posted 10:40 a.m. Eastern, August 9)

 

richard flores speaks at fema national preparedness symposium

Arlington, Va., Aug. 9, 2012 -- Richard Flores, FEMA's Special Adviser for National Tribal Affairs, provides an overview of emergency management practices in Indian Country as part of the FEMA National Preparednes Symposium.

 

Mike Pickerel, a planner with the Missouri Emergency Management Agency, discusses two tips for emergency managers when managing donations and volunteers after a disaster: controlling the message and documentation.

 


(Posted 5:30 p.m. Eastern, August 8)

jon carson speaks at the national preparedness symposium

Arlington, Va., Aug. 8, 2012 -- To wrap up the second day, John Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, spoke about the importance of local communities connecting and building strong relationships.
 

elizabeth harman speaks at the national preparedness symposium

Arlington, Va., Aug. 8, 2012 -- Elizabeth Harman, Assistant Administrator, FEMA Grants Program Directorate, addresses the FEMA National Preparedness Symposium. Her remarks emphasized the importance of face-to-face meetings between partners and stakeholders in emergency management.

 

Herman Schaffer, Director of Community Outreach at the New York City Office of Emergency Management, discusses the efforts of Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in New York City reaching out to their entire community.
 

Major General Darryll Wong, Hawaii Homeland Security Adviser, talks about the successes of planning for and responding to emergencies in geographically separated communities.

(Posted 10:30 a.m. Eastern, August 8)

Lesleyanne Ezelle, FEMA Disability Integration Specialist, demonstrates several of the technologies used in Disaster Recovery Centers to assist people with access and functional needs. 
 

(Posted 8:45 a.m. Eastern, August 8)

June Kailes, Associate Director for the Center for Disability and Health Policy at Western University of Health, provides an overview of Functional Assistance Service Teams (FAST). These teams use locally available assistive technologies to reach out to those affected by disasters, especially those staying in shelters. More information about FAST at http://www.cdss.ca.gov/dis/PG1909.htm.



Updates from Tuesday, August 7

(Posted at 5:40 p.m. Eastern, August 7)

congressional staff take a question at the national preparedness symposium

A panel of Congressional staff members takes a question from a National Preparedness Symposium attendee. Their discussion at 1 p.m. Eastern centered around Department of Homeland Security and FEMA appropriations, as well as their efforts to support building capacity related to emergency preparedness.

(Posted at 2:50 p.m. Eastern, August 7)

paulette aniskoff speaks at the national preparedness symposium

Paulette Aniskoff, Director of the Individual and Community Preparedness Division, led a breakout session on strategy and here's a recap of our tweets during her session. (Click the links below to go directly to each tweet.)

  • Aniskoff: "What motivates people to get prepared and how can we apply it?" #NatlPrep
  • Aniskoff discusses how we get preparedness into the mainstream media including an earned media plan & using multiple channels. #NatlPrep
  • Aniskoff: "Aligning a relevant campaign & localizing the information so folks know the hazards that are most impactful to them." #NatlPrep
  • Successful preparedness campaigns include 1-be affordable 2-unify a message 3-target schools & workplace 4-target social networks #NatlPrep
  • Sept. is Natl Preparedness Month-empower the leaders & help reach more people w/ discussion boards, hub of resources & events. #NatlPrep
  • Aniskoff discusses using IDEA SCALE. Visit http://fema.ideascale.com  and join the conversation. #NatlPrep
  • FEMA working to align to share information & make decisions about community preparedness together w/ state & local partners. #NatlPrep
  • Demonstration is key to teaching emergency preparedness. Get hands-on training into the hands of community leaders. #NatlPrep

(Posted at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, August 7)

panelists speak at the national preparedness symposium

John Madden, Director, Alaska Division of Homeland Security (L) and Richard Reed, Vice President, Preparedness and Resilience Strategy, American Red Cross (R), participate on a discussion panel about national preparedness.

fema administrator craig fugate speaking

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gives the keynote speech as he kicks off the Symposium.  In his remarks, Administrator Fugate talked about the need to clearly define what emergency preparedness is, who should be involved, and what the end goal of our preparedness efforts are.  A few themes from his speech:

  • "A jurisdictional approach to preparedness isn't the most effective - disasters don't know borders or boundaries - we need a national level view to build capacity."
  • "Reporting on preparedness is more than saying 'This is what we spent, this is what we bought.  If you can't quantify an outcome that you are changing with your preparedness efforts, you're just adding stuff."

Learn more about the Presidential Policy Directive 8, which sets a strategic, national-level vision for emergency preparedness.

(Posted at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, August 7)

We grabbed Administrator Craig Fugate right after he stepped off the stage at 9:45 a.m. ET:

Stanley & Stella: Seeing our first FEMA regional office

Hi, everyone and thanks for following us as we learn about FEMA! It didn’t take long before we were able to have our first adventure. We recently went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with Administrator Fugate as he visited FEMA’s regional office there.

We saw Independence Hall…

Philadelphia, Pa., July 31, 2012 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella visit the region III office in Philadelphia. While there they also took a tour of the city and saw Independence Hall.

The Liberty Bell…

Philadelphia, Pa., July 31, 2012 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella visit the region III office in Philadelphia. While there they also took a tour of the city and saw the Liberty Bell.

And then we went to the FEMA Region 3 office!

Philadelphia, Pa., July 31, 2012 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella visit the region III office in Philadelphia.

We found out that there are 10 regional offices across the country. Regional offices help states get ready for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Region 3 helps Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. Can you find which region you are in from the map below?

Map of FEMA Regions.

We helped them open a new part of their building, too!

Philadelphia, Pa., July 31, 2012 -- Flat Stanley and Flat Stella visit the region III office in Philadelphia. While there, they helped with the unveiling of the new regional response center. During and after a disaster, other agencies and groups work alongside FEMA and state workers in the regional response center.

This section of the office is where the region helps a state respond to a disaster, called the regional response center.  During and after a disaster, other agencies and groups work alongside FEMA and state workers in the regional response center.

We were so busy at the office that we didn’t even get to have a philly cheesesteak sandwich! We had so much fun visiting and learning about FEMA that we can’t wait to take another trip to other regions and states.

If you would like to suggest an adventure or ask us a question, you can comment below, find us on the FEMA Facebook page, or even e-mail us at our new e-mail address!

It’s here: the new FEMA.gov

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Today, we are proud to unveil the new FEMA.gov. As Administrator Fugate said in his video, this is not just an update to the look and feel of our site – the new fema.gov is completely redesigned from the inside out.

To set the stage for the project, here are a few numbers:

  • Over 3,300 pages were reviewed, updated and migrated to the new site; 
  • Over 300 users across the agency were trained to manage and edit content on the site; 
  • Over 30,000 news releases migrated to the new site; and 
  • Over 17,000 disaster pages migrated to the new site.

We began the overhaul of the FEMA.gov site almost two years ago by conducting focus groups to determine how to reorganize information so it could be best presented to the public. One month ago, we opened the preview site and asked for feedback as we prepared for the final push. The preview was the latest step of how FEMA’s customers - the American public - shaped how we designed, built, and launched the new site. Looking back, our initial goal was to create a site that is more user-friendly, better up-to-date, and easier to navigate than its predecessor.

Now that the new site has launched, here’s a look at a few of the major improvements:

  • Reducing the number of clicks for users - FEMA.gov menus now present key topics and sub-topics that are more relevant to what users are looking for. Users can scroll over topics and see subtopics and descriptions, which more easily guides them to the information they need.
  • Preventing users from getting lost - Given the number of pages I mentioned above and the amount of information available on the FEMA.gov site, navigating the old site could prove to be a challenge. The new FEMA.gov now presents the user with “breadcrumbs”, showing how information is organized. Research has shown that these breadcrumbs enable users to better navigate the site by giving them a trail of where they currently are in the site’s structure.
  • Improving search capabilities – It’s plain and simple: searching on the new FEMA.gov works better than the previous version. In addition to receiving more accurate search results, users can search for the type of information they want such as news releases, general site pages, blog posts, etc. Search results can also be filtered by date, region and disaster type. Using the search bar will also retrieve better information because we removed many outdated legacy pages that were being maintained on the old site. 
  • Focusing on accessibility and usability – FEMA.gov has been designed to be accessible to those with access and functional needs and we will continue to strive to meet or exceed federal Section 508 compliance standards. Multi-lingual capabilities have been added too so that a single piece of content can be made in multiple languages with the goal of having key disaster-related content available in the languages that are used in affected areas. Over time, more languages will be added, but there is an emphasis on Spanish content with the initial launch.

Going forward

The list of major improvements above is exciting – but the most significant enhancements to FEMA’s outreach through our website may be yet to come. Since we’re using the open source, cloud-based Drupal content management system, we have a robust foundation for future higher-level development work. For you “tech-savvy types”, this includes leveraging advanced data visualization, distributed content delivery via application programming interfaces, and other “open government” initiatives.

In the coming months, we will be working hard to update the mobile version of our website (m.fema.gov) as we continue to fix any existing bugs in the newly launched site. Going forward, we encourage you to continue submitting comments and feedback because improving the site is an ongoing process.

So take a few minutes and cruise around the new FEMA.gov, then drop us a comment and let us know what you think. Happy surfing!

Fire & Drought: A Double Threat for Flooding

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Nature has already made the summer of 2012 historic in several ways: extreme heat and drought continues in many parts of the country. Severe storms and record wildfires have left many residents vulnerable to flooding.   The recent wildfires have sadly impacted many lives, burned homes and structures, and left blackened landscapes in their wake.

The Heightened Risk of Flooding

Wildfires and drought seem to be happening more than usual this summer, and flooding remains the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States.  The aftermath of wildfire and drought can create an increased risk for flooding. Wildfire and drought change landscapes, increasing flood risk in areas where floods are usually rare. Residents living in these areas may find themselves with a higher flood risk than usual – even if they weren’t directly impacted by the original event. In some areas, flash floods can develop in just a few minutes, even if there is no sign of rain.  

Here’s why: the extreme heat caused by a wildfire doesn’t just burn trees and foliage – it chars the soil leaving an oily coating on top which is unable to absorb water like it normally would. Without plants and trees to take up water, and with soil unable to absorb water, even a simple rainstorm can be a recipe for a flooding disaster. In areas of extreme drought, the soil exhibits similar characteristics due to the inability of vegetation to absorb rainfall and reduce runoff.   This creates conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflow, as rain water can flow freely and pick up debris and sediment along the way. In areas impacted by wildfire, it could take up to five years for vegetation to grow back - meaning the heightened risk of flooding stays with a community long after the wildfire has been extinguished and drought conditions have passed.  

Few realize how costly damage from flooding can be. For instance:

  • Just a few inches of floodwaters on your property or in your home can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
  • The average flood claim in 2010 was approximately $28,000, and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own. 

I want to caution you that if you’re in or near an area recently impacted by wildfire or drought, you’re at a greater risk of flooding and there are steps you can take now to protect yourself, your family, home or business from the devastating impacts of a flood.

What you can do

Here are three things you can start working on now to protect yourself from flooding:

  • Plan ahead: Make a plan on where you’ll go in case of a sudden flash flood – making sure you know two evacuation routes in case one is cut off. Before a flood, conduct a home inventory; itemize and take pictures of possessions so you can document them for insurance purposes Keep important papers in a safe, waterproof place.
  • Get Ready: Gather supplies in case of a storm, strengthen your home against damage, and review your insurance coverage.  Ready.gov/floods are a great place to start for information on getting prepared. 
  • Get Insured: Only flood insurance covers flood damage. Most standard homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage, so you are probably not covered under your current insurance policy.  However, flood insurance is affordable. An average flood policy costs around $600 a year, and rates start at just $129 a year for homes in moderate- to low-risk areas. Remember, it’s affordable and typically takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect, so get your policy now. To learn about flood risks in your area and for information on flood insurance, contact your insurance agent, and visit www.floodsmart.gov.

 

SNEAK PEEK: The Next Iteration of FEMA.gov

Today we are taking a step forward and pulling back the curtain with a preview of the next iteration of FEMA.gov to give you the opportunity to take a tour of the new site, and to “kick the tires” as the saying goes.

When we began the process of our redesign, we started with the goal of creating a site that is more user-friendly, with up-to-date information, and easier to navigate. To reach this goal, some of the changes we made are: re-organizing the main content sections; adding drop-down menus; and integrating the “search” function to a greater extent within the website.

As we move forward through this process, there are a few important points to note:

  • First, in an effort to provide options and ease users into how the new site functions, the new re-designed site will be available while the old FEMA.gov site remains active. This will provide individuals the opportunity to be able to access information in the manner they are most comfortable and assist with easing them into a transition to the new site. 
  • Second, we want to let you know that through this re-design process we have been updating much of the content that you will find on FEMA.gov. As we continue to work, we still have some pages that are being brought up-to-date. So please understand that content continues to flow and is being updated as quickly as possible. 
  • Finally, like many projects of this magnitude, we anticipate that there will be some technical bugs in the system and we will work to address them as expeditiously as possible.

In the end, it is important for us to know what you, the user, thinks about the new site. Let us know what you think – the good, the bad, and everything in between. Click around the site and email us your thoughts: FEMA-New-Media@fema.dhs.gov So once we’ve kicked the tires of the new site, what’s next?

Once we complete the work on the site and we are comfortable that it is working and functioning in a way that you have come to expect, we’ll take down the current site and replace it with the new version of the site. A point to note for some of our users who regularly link to some of FEMA’s content. When the new site goes live, links that you have bookmarked or links to our content may no longer work. So, as we move forward in the process, we will be asking web site owners, bloggers, etc, to assist us by making sure if you have links to FEMA.gov from your sites that you update links to our site.

Keep watching this space and we’ll keep you updated and let you know when you should start changing the links. Thanks again for visiting the new, improved, and easier-to-navigate FEMA.gov!

Effective Hurricane Preparedness Requires All of Us Working Together

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People often ask me why FEMA no longer calls people with disabilities and other people with access and functional needs “vulnerable” or “special needs”?

The answer is straightforward: it’s the people who fail to prepare who are the ones who are most vulnerable in disasters. When people with disabilities have a plan for disasters and are prepared, they are in a much better position to ensure that they have the best possible outcomes during and after a disaster such as a hurricane. With approximately 50% of the population having access and functional needs, those needs are not special, they are simply what the whole community needs to address when planning for disasters.

FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination has been working closely with our partners and stakeholders in the disability community during this Hurricane Preparedness Week to spread the word about preparing for hurricanes, severe weather and other disasters. Last week, we held a call with representatives from the disability community and you can listen to the podcast and see the transcript from that call here.

Unfortunately, people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs aren’t always included in their community’s emergency preparedness efforts. Whether you have access and functional needs yourself or know of others who do, we ask that you Be A Force of Nature and help your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors to make sure they’re prepared for the next hurricane or severe weather event. Consider becoming more involved in local, regional, and state emergency management efforts. In this respect, full inclusion in community preparedness efforts ensures that no one is “special” or has “special needs”. Rather, everyone is working together towards a fully prepared community.

In the following video, Neil McDevitt, our Disability Integration Communications Specialist, joins me in talking about how the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination is working with our internal and external partners to enhance awareness of preparedness for the whole community and we’re also talking about steps we’re taking personally to prepare for hurricanes this year.

FEMA encourages all individuals in hurricane-prone areas to know your risk and make a pledge to prepare at www.ready.gov/hurricanes. You can complete your emergency preparedness plan, update your emergency kit and Be a Force of Nature and share your preparedness efforts with family, friends and Community partners.

The Seven Rights of Hurricane Season Preparedness

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What’s the first thing you think of when someone says “hurricane supplies”? Maybe it is water, or batteries, or first aid supplies - all standard items in preparedness kits. What happened to those items before you purchased them? Someone had to buy the components, ship them, assemble the product, pack it, store it, ship it, store it again, market it, and finally, sell it to you. The companies providing those services, and you, the end consumer, are all part of a supply chain.

Now think about the things we use in disaster response – sandbags to stop rising floodwaters, food and water distributed in mass care operations, life-saving medicines used by first responders, even toys and games used by care-givers at shelters to give children a safe, low-stress environment. Imagine yourself as a disaster survivor needing those items, and the importance of resources to provide supply chain activities in emergency response hits home in a hurry. In fact, it is the success or failure of supply chains – the availability of life saving resources - that determines the magnitude of a disaster.

It is said that “information has to be accessible to be actionable”. In disaster response, the product has to be where it is needed to be useful. In supply chain management, we talk about the “seven rights” - the right product has to be delivered to the right customer, at the right time, at the right location, in the right condition, in the right quantities, at the right price. In a post-disaster scenario, a failure in any of those “rights” means that survivors don’t get the products and services they need, and the party responsible for product the products gets a black eye.

To ensure the “rights” are all met, we must ensure resiliency in both our commercial and disaster response supply chains. Yes, we need to pre-position products, but we also need to pre-position relationships that can be called upon when primary sources are inaccessible. We have to eschew rigid hierarchical structures and look for innovative, but secure, solutions. Like sharing for-profit private sector delivery networks, or using affinity groups to identify alternate sources. Creative answers are out there; we just have to ask the “whole community” to help us find and implement them.

At the American Logistics Aid Network, we harness the know-how and resources of the supply chain industry to bring relief to disaster survivors. ALAN connects relief organizations and emergency agencies responding to disasters with donations of transportation services, staging areas, warehouse storage, expert advice, and other vital resources. Visit www.ALANAid.org to learn more about our organization.

Red Cross: What’s in Your Emergency Kit?

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I have a confession – between public seminars, TV and radio interviews and even speaking to the kids at my daughter’s grade school about preparing an emergency kit, I’m the last person you’d expect to have dead batteries in a flashlight. But when Hurricane Irene knocked out the electricity for hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders last year, there I was, a Red Cross Volunteer, sitting with my wife and daughter watching the last flicker of light dwindle from the flashlight we strategically left in the kitchen.

As hurricane season begins, our partners at FEMA share the Red Cross’s dedication to making sure every family understands the risks they face, even in places where hurricanes and tropical storms aren’t common (just ask the folks in the mountains of Vermont or Pennsylvania.) You’ve probably heard the expression “Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst.” You can visit RedCross.org or Ready.gov/hurricanes to learn the details of planning for a disaster and staying informed.

But for now, let’s talk about the one thing you should do right now – check what you have, and buy what you need to make an emergency kit. Why now? Because if you’re lucky to have enough warning of an approaching storm, by the time you get to your local store, your neighbors may have already bought the last bottle of water and battery in town. It’s a very unpleasant surprise.

Your family or office emergency kit will include some very important things. Most are obvious, others less so. See which of these you’d think of:

  • Water – one gallon per person, per day – 2 weeks’ worth
  • Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items – 2 week supply for home 
  • Manual can opener – nothing worse than having cans and no opener! 
  • Flashlight – check each one now, and consider having several to keep in different rooms. Make sure they work! 
  • Extra batteries – Buy the right sizes for your flashlights and other devices. 
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) 
  • First aid kit 
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items 
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items 
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies) 
  • Cell phone with chargers – remember, you can charge a phone in your car 
  • Family and emergency contact information 
  • Extra cash 
  • Emergency blanket 
  • Map(s) of the area

So far, so good? Don’t forget the unique needs in your family:

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane) 
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers) 
  • Games and activities for children 
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl) 
  • Two-way radios 
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys

No matter how close you live to the historical “hot-spots”, your home and community are potential targets for a hurricane, tropical storm or unexpected flooding that can strike suddenly – hundreds of miles from the coastline.

Take the list above, go through the house right now, and determine what you have. See what works, and make a list of what you need. Be a good neighbor and check on any elderly or disabled folks who might appreciate a little help ahead of time. Then, make sure your family has an emergency plan, and know how to keep informed if a storm is heading your way.

While I hope you won’t need to use your emergency kit, here’s hoping we won’t bump into each other in the battery aisle and see nothing but empty shelves.

Visit RedCross.org for complete preparation details. Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.

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