BILOXI, Miss.-- The holiday season is an opportunity to give the gift of disaster preparedness. This special gift could help loved ones ease the hardships that can occur after a disaster, when electricity and water are off. During this critical time, families need essentials such as food, fuel and cash.
Disasters can happen at any time. They usually occur when least expected. Disaster officials urge citizens to create a preparedness kit for their homes and businesses. This kit should contain items that may not be available if families are forced to evacuate or are homebound without electricity or water.
A fully stocked disaster kit would make a sensible holiday gift for any family, particularly those living in disaster-prone areas.
Both the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommend having the following items included in a disaster kit:
- A three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for each
- A manual can opener
- Rain gear, sturdy shoes and a change of clothes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- A first-aid kit with prescription medications
- An extra pair of eyeglasses for each member of the family
- A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
- Credit cards, cash and important telephone numbers
- An extra set of car keys
- A charged cell phone
- An evacuation destination with a map
- A place at your destination that will accept your pets
The disaster kit should be stored in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag, camping backpack or large covered trash container. It’s also wise to have important papers, such as driver’s license, Social Security card, proof of residence, etc., in a waterproof case or bag ready to take along.
A NOAA weather radio that automatically receives hazardous weather broadcasts by the National Weather Service is an inexpensive gift that could save lives. They cost about $30 in most electronics outlets.
The Internet can be a great tool to learn more about disaster preparedness. Several Web sites provide specific details about assembling the perfect disaster kit and creating a thorough family emergency plan including: www.fema.gov (FEMA), www.ready.gov (Department of Homeland Security) and www.msema.org (MEMA).
The best time to think about disasters is before they strike. Preparation allows extra time to think rationally and plan ahead to ease the impact on a family.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.