Little Rock, AR -- The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments may be busy handling serious crisis. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient- able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones-for at least three days following a disaster. To do so, keep on hand in a central location the following:
- Food: Maintain enough for 72 hours, preferably for one week.
- Water: Store enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably for one week. Store in airtight containers and replace it every six months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach, eight drops per gallon, to purify water if necessary.
- First aid kit: Make sure it is well stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectants.
- Fire extinguisher: Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach all family members how to use it.
- Flashlights with extra batteries: Keep flashlights beside your bed and in several other locations. DO NOT use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
- Portable radio or television with extra batteries: Most telephones will be out of order or limited to emergency use. The radio or television will be your best source of information.
- Extra blankets, clothing, shoes and money. Wear sturdy shoes just in case you need to walk through rubble and debris.
- Alternative cooking sources: Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping. CAUTION: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire as a cooking source and never use charcoal indoors.
- Special items: Have at least one week's supply of medications and food for infants and those with special needs. Do not forget pet food.
- Tools: Have an adjustable or pipe wrench for turning off gas and water, and a shovel or broom for cleaning up.
It is important to remember to rotate food, water, first aid supplies, batteries and any special items every six months-daylight savings time changes are an excellent reminder. How well you, your family and your home survive a disaster often depends upon how well you prepare beforehand. The checklist above will help you get started.