Hurricane Katrina has made many of us realize that if a natural disaster or terrorist attack happens here, we are all “up the creek without a paddle.” Imagine walking down Madison Street, Lake Street or Washington Boulevard and suddenly the city of Chicago is attacked. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you call? And most importantly, how do you survive?
This might seem a bit extreme but who would have ever thought hundreds of United States citizens living in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama would be sitting on top of roofs waiting to be rescued by helicopter? The city of New Orleans has changed forever and the long-term effect on its citizens cannot really be measured. FEMA and the Red Cross offer all kinds of information, kits, and survival tools, but we saw from Hurricane Katrina if you live in certain areas, help may be a long time coming. Following are just a few things to consider if you haven’t already:
• Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will break or decompose, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. Keep at least a 3-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person for food preparation and sanitation needs.
• Store a 3-day supply of non-perishable food. Ready-to-eat canned meats (sardines, Vienna sausage, etc.), fruits, vegetables and canned juices, food for babies, and extra diapers.
• Store a first aid kit for home and car”items such as bandages, safety pins, needles, scissors, moistened towelettes, antiseptic, Vaseline.
• Flashlight, batteries, transistor radio, candles, matches, and can opener can be very important.
• Plastic zip-lock bags can be very useful for storage and easy to carry. Items like safety pins, cosmetics, toothbrush, toothpaste, jewelry, keys, aspirin and hard candies can be put in bags, especially if you are in a hurry.
• Old blankets are good to store in a car trunk, as well as a gallon of water, old tennis shoes and a couple cans of ready-to-eat food. If you get stranded during a snowstorm this can help. Also store an old coffee can in the trunk; this can be used to light a fire to keep warm.
• Store important papers (deeds, wills, etc.) in waterproof/fireproof containers.
• Make duplicates of all important papers, such as marriage license, death certificates, birth certificates, deeds, wills, contracts and maybe give a copy to an outside family member or friend.
• Has your job indicated where and what you should do in case of emergency? Do you have regular drills and know what to do?
• Try to keep a list handy of medication you take. Keep a copy in your wallet or purse, an extra pair of eyeglasses, and snow/rain wear.
• A whistle is nice to have in case you need to get someone’s attention.
• Cellphone and extra batteries, some cash or credit cards may be essential in case of disaster or attack. If you don’t have one, you can get a pay-as-you-go cellphone.
These are just some ideas and things to consider. We welcome additional input and/or information. Hopefully we won’t have to use this list, but it does not hurt to prepare.