- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 6, 2004

The D.C. Emergency Management Agency and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services give the following advice on how families can prepare for emergencies. They recommend creating an emergency plan and a go kit of emergency supplies.

Family emergency plan:

• Meet with family members and discuss the dangers of emergency events, including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills and terrorism.

• Draw a floor plan of your home.

• Teach adults how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main switches. Do not attempt to restore gas service yourself. Call the gas company.

• Establish escape routes in case of fire and practice that escape plan with the entire family. Make sure smoke detectors are in place and equipped with new batteries. In case of a fire emergency, get low and crawl to avoid the dangers of heat and smoke. Once out of the house, stay out.

• Post emergency contact numbers near all telephones.

• Teach children how to dial 911. Also, pick a friend or relative, preferably someone out of state, whom all family members will call if separated. Teach children how to make long-distance phone calls.

• Pick two meeting places if you are separated: one place near the home and a place outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home after an emergency.

• Take a basic first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation class.

• Keep family records in a water- and fireproof safe.

• Listen to the radio for local emergency information.

Emergency go kit:

The emergency go kit can be used if you have to evacuate or shelter-in-place without electricity, water, heat, air conditioning or telephone service. The following are items a go kit should include:

• At least a three-day supply of water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Store at least 1 gallon per person, per day. Replace every six months. If you need to purify tap water, the best way to do so is to boil it. Bring water to a boil for three to five minutes and then allow it to cool before drinking. Pouring water back and forth between two containers will improve the taste by putting oxygen back into the water.

• A three- to five-day supply of nonperishable packaged or canned food and a manual can opener.

• A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes.

• Blankets, bedding or sleeping bags.

• A first-aid kit and prescription medications. (Be sure to check the expiration dates.)

• Tools such as screwdrivers, scissors, duct tape, waterproof matches, a fire extinguisher, garbage bags and regular household bleach.

• An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses and solution.

• A list of family physicians, important medical information, and the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers.

• Special items for the elderly, family members with disabilities and infants, such as diapers and wipes.

• A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.

• Identification, credit cards, cash and photocopies of important family documents, including home insurance information.

• An extra set of car and house keys.

• A go kit for pets should include identification collar and rabies tag, carrier or leash, any medication, plastic bags for waste, at least a two-week supply of food and water as well as veterinary records.

MORE INFO:

BOOKS —

• “THE U.S. GOVERNMENT GUIDE TO SURVIVING TERRORISM,” BY H. KEITH MELTON, BARNES & NOBLE BOOKS, 2003. THIS BOOK, COMPILED FROM U.S. MARINE CORPS AND DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY DOCUMENTS, USES INSTRUCTIONS AND DIAGRAMS TO PREPARE AMERICANS FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY OF ANY KIND — CONVENTIONAL, CHEMICAL, BIOLOGICAL AND NUCLEAR. IT SHOWS HOW TO CREATE A FAMILY PLAN WITH CONTACTS AND MEETING PLACES; PREPARE A COMPLETE FAMILY GO KIT OF EMERGENCY SUPPLIES; AND PROTECT YOUR HOME, PROPERTY AND PETS.

• “EMERGENCY FOOD STORAGE & SURVIVAL HANDBOOK: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE IN A CRISIS,” BY PEGGY LAYTON, THREE RIVERS PRESS, 2002. THIS BOOK GUIDES FAMILIES ON HOW TO BUILD AND STORE A THREE-MONTH SUPPLY OF ALL NECESSITIES DURING AN EMERGENCY, INCLUDING FOOD, WATER, POWER, FUEL, FIRST-AID SUPPLIES, CLOTHING AND BEDDING. IT ALSO SHOWS FAMILIES HOW TO CREATE A FIRST-AID KIT, CAR KIT AND 72-HOUR EMERGENCY KIT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.

• “LIVING SAFE IN AN UNSAFE WORLD: THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO FAMILY PREPAREDNESS,” BY KATE KELLY, NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY, 2000. THIS BOOK GIVES TIPS ON HOW A FAMILY CAN TRAVEL SAFELY AND HOW TO SAFEGUARD A HOME AGAINST POTENTIALLY HARMFUL POISONS AND DEVASTATING FIRES. IT ALSO TALKS ABOUT HOW TO ENSURE YOUR FOOD AND WATER WON’T MAKE YOU ILL AND HOW TO MANAGE A COMPLETE LOSS OF POWER FOR SEVERAL DAYS.

• “HOW TO BE SAFE IN ANY EMERGENCY: THE FAMILY TAKE CHARGE BOOK,” BY DIAN DINCIN BUCHMAN, IUNIVERSE.COM, 2000. THIS IS A GUIDE FOR FAMILIES ON HOW TO PREVENT AND PREPARE FOR MOST INDOOR AND OUTDOOR EMERGENCIES, INCLUDING FIRE, FLASH FLOODS, LIGHTNING, BEE STINGS, EARTHQUAKES, GETTING LOST IN THE WOODS — EVEN SHARK ATTACKS.

AGENCIES —

• THE D.C. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, 2000 14TH ST. NW, EIGHTH FLOOR, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20009. PHONE: 202/727-6161. WEB SITE: HTTP://DCEMA.DC.GOV. THE D.C. EMA OFFICE, WHICH COORDINATES THE CITY’S RESPONSE TO DISASTERS, EMERGENCIES, SEVERE WEATHER CONDITIONS AND OTHER CATASTROPHIC EVENTS, GIVES OUT INFORMATION AND BROCHURES ABOUT HOW FAMILIES CAN BEST PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES. THE AGENCY ALSO HOLDS WORKSHOPS ON THE TOPIC. FOR UPCOMING PROGRAMS, VISIT THE AGENCY’S WEB SITE.

• THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, 10501 TRADE COURT, RICHMOND, VA 23236. PHONE: 804/897-6510. WEB SITE: WWW.VAEMERGENCY.COM. THIS STATE AGENCY WORKS WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT EMERGENCY MANAGERS, OTHER STATE AGENCIES, VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS AND FEDERAL AGENCIES SUCH AS THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA) TO ENSURE A COMPREHENSIVE, EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE RESPONSE TO EMERGENCIES AND DISASTERS THROUGHOUT VIRGINIA. THE WEB SITE HAS INFORMATION ABOUT HOW FAMILIES CAN PREPARE THEMSELVES FOR EMERGENCIES.

• MARYLAND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, 5401 RUE SAINT LO DRIVE, REISTERSTOWN, MD 21136. PHONE 410/517-3600. WEB SITE: WWW.MEMA.STATE.MD.US. MEMA, THE AGENCY RESPONSIBLE FOR COORDINATING RESPONSE EFFORT TO ANY MAJOR EMERGENCY OR DISASTER IN MARYLAND, OFFERS A GUIDEBOOK ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES. THE AGENCY ALSO PROVIDES SPECIFIC INFORMATION ON HOW TO DEVELOP A FAMILY DISASTER PLAN, SET UP AN EMERGENCY KIT AND PROVIDE FOR THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF PETS.

ONLINE —

• THE AMERICAN RED CROSS WEB SITE (WWW.REDCROSS.ORG) HAS INFORMATION AND TIPS ABOUT EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS. IT ALSO HAS CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LOCAL CHAPTERS THAT OFFER DISASTER PREPAREDNESS WORKSHOPS AND OTHER OUTREACH PROGRAMS.

• THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY’S WEB SITE (WWW.DHS.GOV) PROVIDES INFORMATION ABOUT HOW FAMILIES CAN PREPARE FOR UNEXPECTED EMERGENCIES. THE INFORMATION INCLUDES HOW TO MAKE AN EMERGENCY KIT AND HOW TO SET UP A FAMILY COMMUNICATION PLAN.

• THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES’ WEB SITE (WWW.HSUS.ORG/ACE/352) PROVIDES INFORMATION ON HOW TO PREPARE AND PROVIDE FOR THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF A PET DURING AN EMERGENCY

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