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"Be prepared," advises Ruth Frechman, MARD, spokeswoman for the
American Dietetic Association. "You never know what could happen. Just a
few [steps] can make your life easier in an emergency."
There are many tips available online for making a disaster plan and for
assembling an emergency kit. WebMD has culled information provided by
government, health and reputable nonprofit organizations. We offer their most
common suggestions for survival, for putting together a disaster kit, and for
keeping kits fresh.
Take note, though, that the experts offer a lot of advice and
suggest many supplies for the emergency kit. It can all be overwhelming.
However, taking the time to read through all the information can make emergency
planning easier. And it could save your life.
"Individuals think that they have to do everything [advised by the
experts]," says Michelle Hudgins, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.
"Everything is not necessarily right for you or your family. Individuals
need to figure out what aspects [of the information] are relevant to their
Preparing for the unknown does take some time, but it's hard to argue the
price of peace of mind during troubled times.
Making a Disaster Plan
Finding out what bad things could occur in your community is a step toward
"Look at your area. Do you live in a hurricane area? Do you live in a
flood zone? Do you live in an area where earthquakes happen? Learn about what
you would do in those different disasters," recommends Kristin Gossel,
director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's READYAmerica
There are also man-made disasters to think about, such as explosions,
chemical attacks, or biological assaults. In its web site (www.ready.gov),
READYAmerica has listed a number of natural and man-made hazards and gives tips
on how to deal with them.
Your local government and local Red Cross chapter should also have a list of
possible catastrophes and evacuation plans. Learn the emergency signals in your
area. Find out the emergency evacuation routes, and discuss them with your
family. Determine the best ways to leave your home and the best ways to escape
disaster in your neighborhood or town.
If you cannot meet loved ones inside your home, determine a meeting place in
the neighborhood (such as by the neighbor's tree). If that's not possible, plan
another meeting place in the area (such as the local coffee shop or the
library). If that's still not possible, look at evacuation plans outside of the
neighborhood or community.
It's not a bad idea to have a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C. Whatever your
plans are, make sure everyone in the family knows about it and knows what to do
in different scenarios.