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The Seven Lessons that we need to take to mind when preparing for a Disaster

Lesson #1 -- Do not panic. If you panic everyone around you will panic. You need to remain came ad in control. The atmosphere at the emergency site is dependent on you.

Lesson #2 -- Make sure you have a plan of action. Make sure that you have a safe place to go if your location is not safe. That could be a friend’s or relative’s house. Make sure that you know two or more ways get there safely in case the roads are impassable. Make sure that you discuss this with your friend or relative and make sure that they know were to find you.

Lesson #3 -- Call your family, friends and significant other and let them know that you are OK.

* Local calls can be more difficult during an emergency then long distance calls. Get an out-of-state person to act as a go-between for you and your local friends and family.

* If phone lines are busy or jammed, try using an operator or collect calling service switchboard to bypass the local switchboard.

* Make sure that you have a paper list of all the numbers that you need to call. You can’t rely on speed dialing on a phone that has no service.

* Keep a small amount of change on hand for pay phones if you cell phone battery dies.

* Make sure that at least one phone in your house is NOT cordless. Cordless phones are useless when the power is out.

Lesson #4 -- Make sure that you have more then one disaster kit. Remember that you might not be home when a disaster strikes, you might be at work or at some other location.

The American Red Cross recommends that families keep a disaster kit at home that consists of a basic first aid kit along with tools and emergency supplies (see list below) that you might need in case of an emergency.

The Red Cross also recommends that you keep a second abbreviated disaster kit at the office, in the car, and even in your purse. Here are some examples:

At the office:

* Comfortable walking shoes -- There’s no telling how long you might have to walk to reach safety. Flat, comfortable shoes will make it a much easier walk.

* A change of clothes (see above). Make sure you have a comfortable change to wait out the emergency in or to sleep in.

* A flashlight -- If the lights go out, you will need a flashlight in order to nagotiate dark corridors and stairways.

* Battery_operated radio -- When the electricity goes out a battery-operated radio might be your only means of

In the car:

* Keep the tank at least half full at all times. Print out the list of gas stations that have generators. The list can be found on this web site and easily printed out. This list will be updated as we get new information.

* Local maps, in case your normal route home becomes blocked.

* A portable GPS.

* A list of local emergency shelters and addresses of local relatives or friends.

* Blankets and a small supply of food and water.

In your purse or nearby:

* A small flashlight. Try to find one you can keep on your key chain so you can always find your way home.

* Cell phone, fully charged.

* Cash and small change. ATMs and credit card processing devices don't work without electricity, but cash does. "Having cash available will help you get what you need immediately," says Rocky Lopes, PhD, disaster preparedness expert at the American Red Cross. "So having some good old American cash on hand is good idea in case you need to buy batteries for your flashlight or bottled water."

* State_issued identification that includes your current local address. It sounds obvious, but you'll need this to get home if officials restrict access to your neighborhood due to disaster. You'll run into problems if your driver's license has an old address.

Lesson #5 -- Get to know your neighbors. There's safety in numbers, and no one should have to deal with disaster alone. Knock on a door and invite a neighbor to share a drink with you if you're both stuck at home. They may just have that bottle opener you forgot to pack in your disaster kit.

Also take special care to check on the elderly or people with disabilities in your neighborhood. Not only are they at risk for medical complications due to shock or exposure to extreme weather, but they are also more likely to suffer a potentially disabling fall when the lights go out.

"Falls certainly are quite a concern for older people because if they do fall, their bones likely to be more brittle and break more easily," says Lopes. "You're also more likely to fall if you can't see where you're going. That's why having multiple flashlights -- such as keeping one in the bathroom, another in the kitchen, and anywhere you regularly spend time -- is a good idea."

Lesson #6 -- Fight the boredom that can sometimes become overwhelming. In you disaster kit there should also be some books, games, a deck of cards and a battery powered radio to keep both you and old family members busy and informed when all you can do is wait. Also remember that there may be youngsters with you, put some in some stuff to keep them occupied

Lesson #7 -- Look at the bright side. This is probably the hardest part about dealing with disaster. There's no such thing as a mental disaster preparedness kit. Nothing can really prepare you for how it might affect you personally, spiritually, or emotionally.

Remember that waiting around for help or until or the disaster is over can be a very boring time. That is why it is important to be prepared by following Lesson #6.

Disaster Kit

For more information, log on to the American Red Cross at: http://www.redcross.org/

Here are their recommendations for items to include in a personal or family disaster kit:

* A battery_powered radio.

* Pack flashlights with extra batteries. Store the batteries outside of the flashlight so they

retain their charge and do not leak ruining the flashlight and everything near it. Never, never, never use candles, which could tip over and start a fire.

* Make sure that you have enough non_perishable food and water for each member of the household including pets. The recommend amount is for about three days.

* Make sure that you have at least one complete change of clothing and footwear for every member of your household.

* Blankets and/or sleeping bags.

* Don’t forget to pack sanitary supplies, such as toilet paper, soap, disinfectant, chlorine bleach, personal hygiene items, and plastic garbage bags.

* Plastic sheeting and tape to cover windows that might have blown out.

* Personal identification, and cash, traveler's checks, or a credit card.

* Emergency contact information and family documents stored in waterproof containers.

Once the kit is assembled, you should:

* Make sure that you rotate the food and water supplies every six months to keep them fresh.

* Make sure that you replace batteries and revies your disaster kit at least once a year to keep it up to date and to make sure that you have everythin that you need. Needs may change and your kit needs to reflect these changes..

* Store the items you are most likely to need during if you are required to evacuation in an easy_to_carry container, such as a camping backpack or duffel bag.

SOURCES: WebMD Feature: "New First Aid Kit for Today's World". Rocky Lopes, PhD, senior associate for disaster education at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. American Red Cross.