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September is National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared if a natural disaster were to strike today?
We’ve seen our neighboring states struggle in the face of hurricanes that forced thousands from their homes. We saw the power grid go down in Texas during one of the coldest and snowiest winters on record. We’ve watched western states battle wildfires that have destroyed entire towns. Here in Arkansas, an average of 39 tornadoes sweep across the state each year.
We experienced catastrophic flooding in Prairie County in 2011, along the Arkansas River in 2019 and throughout southeastern Arkansas in early 2021. Fortunately, we have several dams across the state that help with flood control, but we are still subject to the whims of Mother Nature.
Arkansas is also no stranger to earthquakes. Several of the strongest documented earthquakes took place along the New Madrid Fault Line in northeastern Arkansas. The still-active fault line is capable of producing a large quake at any time.
While most of us feel pretty content to believe the worst won’t happen, it certainly can. Being prepared “just in case” is the best way to get through a tragic event.
I’m not a “doomsday” prepper, and I’m not always worrying that disaster is about to strike. Still, I believe we should all be taking measures to help protect ourselves and our families should a disaster occur. That may mean a strategically-placed first aid kit, a backup source of electricity or a reserve food supply.
When the supply chain was interrupted during the early days of the COVID pandemic, most of us experienced a taste of what things could be like if a natural disaster impacted us in Arkansas. Store shelves were bare as people began to panic and hoard food, appliances, generators and, of all things, toilet paper.
We can look back now and laugh, but many of us experienced real, honest-to-goodness fear that we were wholly unprepared in the face of a true emergency.
In addition to quarantines – fire, flood, tornado, earthquakes, power grid failures and more all have the potential to occur. When these things happen, access to food, water and electricity may be disrupted. We may be fine, and our house may still be standing, but we may not be able to make it to a store. Are you prepared if that happens?
Many sources indicate that families should have a minimum of three days or 72 hours’ worth of non-perishable food and water on hand for each person living in the household. Here are some items you should consider keeping in your emergency food kit:
You’ll also want to have a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day. For a family of four that would be 12 gallons.
You can store your emergency food and water just about anywhere, such as a basement, extra closet or, like we do, under a bed. Tornado shelters or storage sheds away from your main home make great storage areas and increase the possibility that the supply will be useable following a tornado or fire.
Keeping your emergency kit free of moisture and pests is crucial. Items not in cans should be repackaged into jars or bags or placed inside a sealable container like a five-gallon bucket with a tight-sealing lid. Metal drums with ring lids also supply great protection from the elements.
While most of the items in an emergency food kit can last for several years, it’s important to go through your stockpile at least once a year and rotate out any items that have expired.
When building an emergency kit, the hope is that we never have to use it. Yet if you find yourself in a situation when you do need it, how can you be sure you have everything you need? Dried beans and pasta are perfect for storing long term, but do you have a way to cook them? Do you have a way to open those cans of peaches and spaghetti-os? Here is a list of additional items that you may want to consider keeping with your emergency kit that will help make it usable.
We all hope that a disaster doesn’t happen but having a plan can be comforting in the face of the unthinkable. Here are some additional resources you may want to check out.
Ready.gov – This complete resource has all sorts of tools to help you prepare for an emergency.
American Red Cross – Find a complete list of items to include in your emergency kit.
NWA Emergency Preparedness Fair and Blood Drive – Bentonville
Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021
Click to learn more.
2022 Arkansas Emergency Management Conference – Rogers
Aug. 16-Aug. 19, 2022
Click to learn more.
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