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Prepare now for emergencies

Monday, March 30, 2015

It is the kind of task that often falls to the bottom of the priority list, but preparing ahead of a possible emergency or disaster reduces the risk of harm to you and your family.

“When people think of Oklahoma, tornadoes frequently come to mind, but we experience all sorts of weather, including heat and drought, earthquakes, winter storms and wildfires,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “That means we have to be ready for anything.”

As part of its annual Resolve to be Ready national campaign for 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is placing a special emphasis on being ready year-round for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Admittedly, the idea of trying to prepare for a whole year’s worth of potential weather hazards can be overwhelming. Start by knowing when hazards are likely to occur, which will give you a good idea of what types of weather hazards to expect at different times of the year.

Then commit to putting together a basic emergency kit, which should include supplies such as three days worth of water and nonperishable food, a first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-operated radio and a change of clothes appropriate for the current season.

Be sure to include prescription medicines, hearing aids, baby formula and other unique needs of family members. Also, do not forget to set aside items for any family pets.

“Most people understand the value of putting together a disaster kit, but sometimes cost seems like a barrier. It doesn’t have to be. Building a kit on a budget is absolutely doable,” Peek said.

Begin by scouring your house for the items you need. Then check with family and friends to see if you can broker trades for supplies both of you need to complete your kits. Fill in any remaining gaps with things you pick up on sale or at garage sales.

Finally, take the time to create a family communications plan.

“You can’t assume your family will be together when an emergency occurs. That’s why having a plan and making sure everyone knows exactly what to do and where to go if something does happen is so critically important,” Peek said. “You also should make a point of asking about the emergency plans at school and work.”

A free step-by-step guide on building an effective communications plan is available at along with other important resources such as a seasonal preparedness calendar and full list of recommended supplies for a disaster kit.

For more information about emergency preparedness, contact your local county Extension office.

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