Disaster Preparedness for the Public

In August of 2005, hurricane Katrina slammed into the US and brought with it destruction and misery of epic proportions. A year later, as we look back, it's important to learn lessons from that disaster. One of the biggest lessons learned was the need for self-sufficiency after and during a disaster. One of the things that slowed the relief efforts after Katrina, due to the magnitude of the devastation, was the Federal Government's inability to establish logistical support to rescuers for almost 2 weeks. If the rescuers don't have food or water, they simply become victims themselves. Prior projections believed the Government could establish supply trains within 2 days. They were wrong.

This coming winter, officials are concerned about the possibility of an Avian Flu outbreak. While there's no way to know whether this calamity will be seen, the possibility of a local disaster may be slim but it is real. Everyone should consider preparing ahead of time so that they can be as self-sufficient as possible should regular supplies and/or services be unavailable for an extended period. Disease outbreak, floods, tornados, and earthquakes are all examples of disasters that could disrupt regular activities in our area for an extended time.

The information below is courtesy of the Center for Disease Control Pandemic Influenza website.

Visit this page for information about disaster preparedness specific to people with disabilities.

To plan for a disaster:
  • Store a two week supply of water and food. During a pandemic, if you cannot get to a store, or if stores are out of supplies, it will be important for you to have extra supplies on hand. This can be useful in other types of emergencies, such as power outages and disasters.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
  • Volunteer with local groups to prepare and assist with emergency response.
  • Get involved in your community as it works to prepare for disasters.
To limit the spread of disease and prevent infections:
  • Teach your children to wash hands frequently with soap and water, and model the correct behavior.
  • Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, and be sure to model that behavior.
  • Teach your children to stay away from others as much as possible if they are sick. Stay home from work and school if sick.

Items to have on hand for an extended stay at home:

Examples of food and non-perishables:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, and soups
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter or nuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Bottled water
  • Canned or jarred baby food and formula
  • Pet food
  • Other non-perishable items
  • Manual can opener
  • Garbage bags
  • Tissues, toilet paper, disposable diapers

Examples of medical, health, and emergency supplies:

  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood-pressure monitoring equipment
  • Soap and water, or alcohol-based (60-95%) hand wash
  • Medicines for fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Thermometer
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Vitamins
  • Fluids with electrolytes
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Portable radio