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Disaster Preparedness: Could You Survive 72 Hours?


Disasters such as the massive earthquake that devastated Japan get us all thinking... about how prepared we aren't. They serve as a wake-up call to make sure we are equipped for a potential emergency. While you may not live in an earthquake prone region, there are numerous situations that put us all at risk. Experts suggest that in the case of an emergency, it could be at least 3 days before a rescue or vital services are restored. Having a 72-hour plan can make a huge difference in your chances of survival.

Shelter, water and food are our biggest concerns in disaster situations. You'll want to make sure you have a secure shelter immediately. This could be a tent or your car in the case that homes are inaccessible and public shelters are out of reach.

Water, of course, is a huge concern. Tap water can be safely stored without additional treatment. Keep several gallon bottles on hand and in multiple locations in case areas of your home become damaged. There are many water treatment devices too that can help make most water potable.

Healthy people can go weeks without food. While it certainly will erode health and strength, which is vital in a disaster, it is not as pressing as shelter or water. Still, keep dried foods on hand. Opt for low-sodium and caffeine-free as caffeine and salt will dehydrate. Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, energy bars and cereals are good choices. Avoid dehydrated fancy camping foods that require water, as you may not have any to spare.

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Secure your home. Do you know how to turn off your utilities? Gas tanks can explode, especially after being rocked by an earthquake. Do you have multiple exit points from your home? Can you open a window if needed for escape?

Families may want to create an evacuation plan and have a designated rendezvous point outside of town. Always keep on hand a written list of emergency phone numbers, neighbors' numbers and family members' cell phone numbers. It's also recommended that you always keep your gas tank half full in case of emergency evacuations.

Emergency kits can be packed along with ready-to-go camping gear and should contain food, water, basic first aid, flashlights, knife, portable radio and batteries, basic hygiene supplies including toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, extra clothing, blankets, durable shoes, dust mask, pen, paper, tape, cash and copies of important documents including IDs.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Photo: The U.S. Army

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