Experts: Don't be caught off guard in an emergency

Be vigilant, aware is message during Preparedness Month
Sep. 13, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

The prospect of losing power for three days due to severe weather is daunting for many. But this month especially, experts and officials at all levels are working to replace that uncertainty with readiness. 

September is National Preparedness Month, and local leaders are imploring families to ready their homes in the event of an emergency.

"We urge families to be able to be self sustaining for the first 72 hours after an emergency," said Shane Seagroves, Lee County Emergency Services Director. "There are 60,000 residents in Lee County, and imagine how overwhelming that can be if we had a major storm."

Hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, ice storms, fires and tornadoes can leave local families without power or supplies, he said, and a disaster kit can help residents in the immediate aftermath.

"Families need to be able to take care of themselves for the first few days after a disaster," Seagroves said. "They need ample water and nonperishable food, flashlights and a radio."

People can get a checklist of what is needed in an emergency kit at www.redcross.org, according to Local American Red Cross Coordinator Michele Bullard.

"There is all kinds of information there about how to be prepared for a disaster," she said. "And since everyone has a [smart phone], we have a free app."

The application gives severe weather updates and information about how to be prepared for a disaster, Bullard said.

"It's so important," she said. "You don't want to forget what can happen and [want to] be prepared when it does."

Seagroves agreed and said residents need to be keenly aware of their surroundings.

Keep an eye on the weather," Seagroves said. "Don't get caught by surprise."

According to the Red Cross, the basic supplies for a disaster kit are as follows:

* Water — one gallon per person, per day (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)

* Food — non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (three-day supply for evacuation, two-week supply for home)

* Flashlight

* Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)

* Extra batteries

* First aid kit

* Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items

* Multi-purpose tool

* Sanitation and personal hygiene items

* Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)

* Cell phone with chargers

* Family and emergency contact information

* Extra cash

* Emergency blanket

* Map(s) of the area