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Editor's Notes: Emergency preparedness: What are our responsibilities?

By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

What are our responsibilities as they pertain to personal safety and preparedness. I have been thinking about this a lot lately with the hurricanes and natural disasters.

It's hard to know if there are more of them, or if we just hear more about them with television news reports.

We are instructed to have emergency supplies on hand for at least 72 hours. Because in the event of a disaster, estimates are that it might take at least that long for emergency personnel to reach you.

As we learned with New Orleans, we cannot depend on someone to rescue us. We need to be self sufficient enough to be able to stand on our own no matter how long it takes for rescue personnel to arrive. What if they never arrive?

I have a son who complains that there isn't anything to eat the way things are now. He would really be suffering if circumstances prevented him from going to the store every day.

We have some food storage, not a lot of variety, but enough, hopefully, to keep everyone alive for awhile. But, I don't know for how long. Certainly not a year or two.

I sometimes think of all the meat in the freezer and if we were without power for more than a day or two, what would happen to all that meat? I have one son who specializes in making beef jerky, so hopefully we could dry most of it and still make use of it.

It's hard to know exactly how to prepare for the unknown. But, we must prepare something. To believe that nothing will ever happen in our area is foolhardy.

The idea of a 72 hour kit, which has been updated, and is readily accessible is very important.

We spend a lot of time at our house looking for items. It would seem we never put them back in the same place twice. Having a kit in a closet that you can just grab and go could be a lifesaver.

Another thing we always hunt for is a flashlight and batteries. I was happy to hear about a flashlight that you can just shake and have light. I need some of those, but I really need to be able to find them in a pinch.

I hope everyone else is more organized than I am. I am trying and I'm doing better, but sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the here and now that we don't plan for the future the way we should.

We need to have a fire plan and evacuation plan in place. I remember one class I went to where we were instructed to always have a pair of shoes by the bed in case of a fire.

One night we did have a fire at our house, and I was glad to have listened to this bit of advice. It makes evacuation easier just to have a pair of shoes handy and a coat you can grab.

I doubt we can ever be fully prepared, but if we develop habits which help us we will be better off. Sometimes at the store, if an item is on sale, we could pick up a few extra to stash.

I can't have food where it is seen or it's gone, but we need to start small to be ready and work our way to a level of preparedness.





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