Getting Ready for an Emergency

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4.Have spare cash. This way you're covered should the ATMs stop working.

5.Keep your gas tank full. If the power is out, gas pumps cannot work.

6.Assemble a disaster supply kit. More than two-thirds of families don't have such a kit, according to a 2003 Harris poll. You'll feel more at ease knowing that all these items are in one place:

  • three-day (or more) supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and nonperishable food
  • can opener
  • tools and supplies (like paper cups, plastic utensils, and a compass)
  • first-aid supplies
  • prescription and non-prescription medication (make sure it hasn't expired)
  • sanitation products (like toilet paper)
  • items for baby (formula, diapers)
  • change of clothing and sleeping bag for each person in your home
  • batteries
  • flashlights
  • battery-powered radio or television
  • a cell phone charger that's powered by a car battery
  • a phone that doesn't require electricity
  • important family documents (like phone numbers, copies of social security cards, and immunization records)
  • items for pets (leash, identification tags)
  • entertainment (games and books)

Keep individual items in airtight plastic bags and store everything in a duffel bag or an unused trash can. FEMA advises preparing three such kits: one for your home, one for your office, and one for your car. The car kit should also contain flares, jumper cables, and seasonal supplies like a shovel, ice scraper, and antifreeze.

Because of the latest chemical weapon threats, FEMA now also recommends keeping duct tape and plastic sheeting (available at hardware and home supply stores) on hand. How useful will these items be in the event of a chemical attack? No one knows. But they may be very helpful during emergencies such as floods and hurricanes, points out American Red Cross President Marsha J. Evans.

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