First, consider what hazard may affect you and your family: severe weather strikes and you loose power for many days; a release of toxic gases from a train derailment results in a rapid evacuation of your neighborhood; a Pandemic reduces everyones services and supplies in the region. Preparedness begins by understanding the potential hazards. Know your surroundings and stay informed. Next, it gets personal. Knowing how you will respond and having the supplies and equipment to provide for you and your family during an emergency requires pre-planning. Take action. Document your plans so everyone in your family is on the same page. Lastly, become active in helping others be better prepared in your community. Be an advocate for emergency preparedness. Consider becoming a volunteer.
1. Get a Kit
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.
Recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:
- One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
- Children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.
- If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary.
- Store water tightly in clean plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.
- At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water.
- Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.
- Avoid salty foods, as they will make you thirsty.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
- Can opener (if your kit contains canned food)
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air (learn more)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place (learn more)
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- First aid kit (learn more)
- Radio, battery-powered or hand crank
- NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Flashlight, battery-powered or hand crank
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Local maps
- Cell phone with charger
Additional items to consider adding to an emergency supply kit:
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler's checks and change
- Emergency reference material such as a first aid book, telephone numbers, instruction books, etc.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Visit Ready.gov for more information, including a printer-friendly list of supplies.
Building a First Aid Kit
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. If you have these basic supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt.
Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and do not require immediate medical attention. Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. Consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.
Things you should have:
- Two pairs of Latex, or other sterile gloves (if you are allergic to Latex).
- Sterile dressings to stop bleeding.
- Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect.
- Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
- Burn ointment to prevent infection.
- Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes.
- Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant.
- Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically
- rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
- Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.
- Non-prescription drugs that may include:
- Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever (aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.)
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for upset stomach)
Other things that may be good to have in your kit:
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
2. Make a Plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.
Family Emergency Plan
- Identify an emergency out-of town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Verify that every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins for a pay phone, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contacts.
- Program your emergency contacts(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your cell phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings on your cell phone in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you've listed them as emergency contacts.
- Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
Planning to Stay or Go
- Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information--including what you may learn through WSU Alert--Wright State's emergency notification system--to determine if there is an immediate danger to you.
- In any emergency, local authorities or Wright State may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. DO NOT CALL 911 unless you must report an emergency. However, you should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet often for information or official instruction as it becomes available. For information on staying put or sheltering in place, visit the shelter options offered at Ready.gov.
- For information regarding your response to a person with a gun or an active shooter, visit Shots Fired Video Training Program at the Wright State University Police website.
- Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community.
- Emergency radio and TV broadcasts are most common.
- You might hear a tornado or nuclear warning siren, or get a telephone call, or emergency workers may go door-to-door.
- Subscribe to alert services. Check with your local Emergency Management Agency for availability.
- At Wright State, various methods may be used to notify you of an emergency including, the Simplex® building notification system, emergency text messaging, email, WSU homepage postings, local TV and radio, and others.
As Wright State student, staff, or faculty, you can sign up to be sent emergency text messages regarding emergencies that affect our campuses (go to WINGS Express, choose Personal Information, then choose "opt-in text message" and provide the information requested).
- Download and complete the Family Emergency Plan template.
- List and distribute contact information to your family
- Identify a common meeting place for your family to meet in emergency situations.
- Understand how to care for your pets in a disaster.
- Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time including daycares and schools where your children attend. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
- Communicate with your neighbors about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance. Read more: School and Workplace.
3. Be Informed
Being informed about the different types of emergencies that could happen where you live and the appropriate ways to respond to them will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take.
- Contact your local Emergency Managment Agency Director and ask about the natural and man-made threats to your community.
- Visit the Plan for Ohio at the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. The State of Ohio has a number of emergency plans available for you to review.
- Complete one or more independent study courses through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These courses are a good way to become informed about emergency management in general and the nine mission areas identified by the National Preparedness Goal.
4. Get Involved
After preparing yourself and your family for possible emergencies by getting a kit, making a plan and being informed, take the next step and get involved in preparing your community.
Learn more about ServeOhio, which actively involves the citizens of Ohio in making our communities and our nation safer, stronger, and better prepared. We all have a role to play in keeping our hometowns secure from emergencies of all kinds. ServeOhio works hard to help people prepare, train and volunteer in their communities.
Protecting Yourself From Biological Contaminants in the Air
Some potential emergencies could send tiny microscopic "junk" into the air. For example flooding could create airborne mold which could make you sick and an explosion may release very fine debris that can cause lung damage. A biological terrorist attack may release germs that can make you sick if inhaled or absorbed through open cuts. Many of these agents can only hurt you if they get into your body, so think about creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination.
Nose And Mouth Protection
Face masks or dense-weave cotton material, that snugly covers your nose and mouth and is specifically fit for each member of the family. Do whatever you can to make the best fit possible for children. There are also a variety of face masks readily available in hardware stores that are rated based on how small a particle they can filter in an industrial setting. It is very important that most of the air you breathe comes through the mask or cloth, not around it.
Given the different types of emergencies that could occur, there is not one solution for creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination in the air. Simple cloth face masks can filter some of the airborne particulates or germs you could inhale, but will probably not protect you from chemical gases. Still, something over your nose and mouth in an emergency is better than nothing. Limiting how much foreign matter is inhaled may impact whether or not you get sick or develop disease.
When sheltering in place
There are circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "shelter-in-place," is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you can use the material like those listed below to tape up windows, doors and air vents if you need to seal off a room.
- Heavyweight plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
Consider precutting and labeling these materials. Anything you can do in advance will save time when it counts.
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filtration Fans
Once you have sealed a room with plastic sheeting and duct tape you may have created a better barrier between you and any contaminants that may be outside. However, no seal is perfect and some leakage is likely. In addition to which, you may find yourself in a space that is already contaminated to some degree.
Consider a portable air purifier, with a HEPA filter, to help remove contaminants from the room where you are sheltering. These highly efficient filters have small sieves that can capture very tiny particles, including some biological agents. Once trapped within a HEPA filter contaminants cannot get into your body and make you sick. While these filters are excellent at filtering dander, dust, molds, smoke, biological agents and other contaminants, they will not stop chemical gases.
Some people, particularly those with severe allergies and asthma, use HEPA filters in masks, portable air purifiers as well as in larger home or industrial models to continuously filter the air.