McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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April 22, 2013

Tips for preparing for a natural disaster

Being disaster-ready includes preparing your family and home for potential emergencies that could occur in your area.

According to the Red Cross, these are four ways you can prepare for a disaster:

1. Know what emergencies or disasters are most likely to occur in your community.

2. Have a family disaster plan and practice it.

3. Have an emergency preparedness kit.

4. Make sure at least one member of your household is trained in first aid and CPR/AED.

The Red Cross recommends holding a family meeting to discuss and prepare a response to emergencies. A family plan should include:

1. Places to meet, depending on the type of emergency, outside your home and outside your neighborhood.

2. An out-of-area emergency contact person in case local phone lines are out of service.

3. An evacuation plan that includes where you would go and the route you would take to get there.

4. Practicing evacuating your home twice a year.

5. Planning ahead for pets.

FEMA also recommends building a disaster kit, should you need to evacuate at a moment's notice. A basic kit should include the following FEMA-recommended items:

1. Water, one gallon per person per day for at least three days.

2. Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

3. Battery-powered or hand crank radio, a NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries for both.

4. Flashlight and extra batteries.

5. First aid kit.

6. Whistle to signal for help.

7. Dust mask to help filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape.

8. Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

9. Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

10. Manual can opener for food

11. Local maps.

12. Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger.

Learn more about disaster preparedness online at RedCross.org and FEMA.gov.

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