Letter to the Editor

Be prepared for disaster

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dear editor,

I think about it each day, that we should have our children and grandchildren as prepared for a natural disaster as I think our schools and the military are prepared. I know that after the ice storm our family said that we were going to put a kit together so we would be prepared next time.

Recently, there have been hurricanes in the south and the east coast, and we could have an earthquake in Arkansas or Missouri at any time. I have to wonder if most families have a disaster emergency kit, and if their family members know where to meet if a situation arises and they are in separate locations. Do they know who their contact person should be or how they would let others know they are alright?

As a member of the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW and as Chairman of the Department of Arkansas Youth, I feel as parents and grandparents, we need to take this responsibility upon ourselves to help our youth and our families to be prepared.

Some of the items that should be placed in sealed plastic bags are matches, important home documents (such as birth certificates, credit card numbers, a will, house deeds, etc.), a contact list complete with phone numbers and addresses, a disposable camera to document damage, a home inventory list, a notebook and pen, pre-paid phone cards, a cell phone and charger, a roll of quarters, at least $100 in cash, an extra set of house and car keys, and a family picture.

Additional items such as canned juices, high energy foods such as peanut butter, nuts, granola bars, crackers, dried fruits, canned meats, bottled water, batteries, a weather radio, flashlights, a basic first aid kit, disinfectants, anti-diarrhea medicine, plastic garbage bags, plastic sheeting, rope, gloves, dust masks, rubber gloves, a small tool box and a wrench to turn off gas and/or water lines, plus instructions on how to turn off the electricity, gas and water, in case you are advised to do so by officials.

Personal items you should think about would be shampoo, conditioner, brush, comb, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, a change of clothes for everyone in the family, an extra pair of shoes and socks for everyone, pillows, blankets, hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, extra toilet paper, paper towels, bath towels and wash cloths.

Store at least a three day supply of water and rotate the water every six months so it stays fresh. Each month, check for items that you might need to add or replace.

Depending on where you live or the time of year, you might also need insect repellant, sunscreen, snow shovels, boots, warm gloves, jackets, and a tin can or pot for melting snow.

Last, but certainly not least, as the warning or evacuation order is issued, add your prescription drugs and any other medications that you take, and don't forget baby diapers for a little one.

Place loose items in airtight plastic bags. Store them in a large, easy to carry, waterproof container, like a trash bin or plastic tub. Store your kit in a safe place near a main exit and make sure that every family member knows the location.

I would leave you with the idea to please help our youth. Consider having a disaster preparedness class and furnish a couple of items to help them get started.

Many youth have stressed out parents, single parent households, both parents working to support the family, grandparents raising them, or one or both parents deployed overseas.

We need to give recognition to our youth, no matter how small the project, because they are the future of America's freedom. If you'd like more information on how to get youth involved, call me at 625-3957.

Sue Vanderpool

Dept. of Arkansas Youth Chairman