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Over the past 14 weeks, Community Regional Medical Center’s Disaster Preparedness Committee has been assisting staff in preparing for emergencies by providing resources on how to build an emergency supply kit, make a plan and stay informed. As a member of this committee, I want to offer some encouraging words to what seems like an overwhelming task.
Growing up, my family would frequently go camping. It was my job to anticipate the needs and make sure the items were collected and checked off the list. Preparing for a possible emergency was a flashback of being prepared for anything while on the road away from home in a temporary shelter.
The easiest way to approach this is to pay attention to what you purchase during a trip to the store. Look at your staple purchases that are the basics to each shopping list. Now buy 1 extra item of your most frequently used products and separate that item and label it Emergency Use. No one expects you to go out and purchase everything at one time. Just pick up a few items each time you go shopping. There are many lists that are available from the www.ready.gov and www.redcross.org websites to help you break up your purchases in small amounts.
Place personal hygiene items, clothes, medications, in a small backpack for each family member and pet. Place the packs in a quick and easy place where each member can grab their supplies and run. The storage of other food, survival, and medical supplies may require some creative thinking. I have most of my emergency supplies stored in sealed plastic containers in my garage toward the front so if my garage collapsed it would not be too much effort to dig them out. Many of my friends store supplies in their garage and outside in their yard away from the house in large trashcans with lids on wheels. No matter where you store your supplies, make sure they are easily accessible so you can continually rotate your inventory. I rotate mine every two weeks when I go shopping. I move the old stock to the front of the shelf and place the new items behind so I am always moving from old to new. Another example of rotating stock is I purchased a single cup brewing system so I fill the reservoir with my drinking water stock so I rotate the gallons of water frequently so my water supply is always fresh. Sounds like a lot of work but it really isn’t once you get in the routine of rotation. Then finally, check your preparedness level by living off your emergency supplies one weekend. It is a lot of fun and we create some interesting recipes with odds and ends. This gives you a chance to see what items you may have forgot to include.
You never know what is around the corner of life, for example, my husband lost his job and we were able to live off our supplies for several weeks which was enough to help us stretch our limited money and get back on our feet. Kids never missed a meal and everyone was thrilled we had been diligent and prepared for the unexpected.
Evelyn Burruss, RN, PHN, MSN, CNS
Disaster Preparedness Coordinator, Community Regional Medical Center