By Brad Mosher
Some emergencies can be prepared for by setting up something as simple as a “Go Bag” which can be taken on a quick evacuation when a disaster strikes.
The preparation for other disasters can mean stockpiling food, water and other emergency supplies.
In either case, the people who have made the preparations ahead of time will best be able to handle the problems created by a disaster.
Denise Brew, the Emergency Management Officer for Dunn County has started a drive online to remind people to prepare ahead of time for the possibility of disasters in North Dakota.
The month of September is also “Preparedness Month.”
Brew recently posted a winter storm kitchen checklist for people to use which included having three-day supplies of non-perishable food and a three-day supply of water.
In addition, the kitchen list also included the need for matches, pet food and supplies, baby food and supplies along with a non-electric can opener.
Brew also posted a winter storm safety checklist, which included a flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, seven days of medications, copies of personal documents, space heater and a backup generator.
Another suggestion for people to put into a portable kit included a small pencil sharpener which could be used to sharpen sticks and the shavings could also bu used to create tinder for fire starting.
People can also prepare for the impact of a power outage, Brew noted when she posted on Sept. 12 another checklist focusing on the needed precautions.
In addition to a flashlight with extra batteries, the list had candles (with a lighter and matches), eight to 10 gallons of water, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, antibacterial surface wipes, food that doesn’t need to be cooked, blankets and knit hats, along with a back-up for sump pumps (if needed).
Brew also posted 60 uses for bandanas in emergency situations on the Emergency Management Facebook page.
When it comes to First Aid, bandanas can be used as slings, a compress, a pressure bandage tie and still would have nine other uses.
There were four listings for hygiene uses, including as a toothbrush.
There were 12 listings for using a bandana for shelter, five water related uses and three was to use for a rescue.
The biggest category of uses was tools, with 13 on the list.
But Brew also recommended using a bandana like a flag by either tying it to an antenna or putting it in a window wher the wind can make it move.
“If people are search for you, they can see that colored bandana, especially if it is neon green or yellow… you know, those neon colors that can be seen from far away,” she said.
Among the suggestions Brew has posted was how to prepare for being evacuated.
When people organize ahead of time, they should make sure to pack shoes, have a wallet or purse, keys to the car, home, storage units, mail boxes and office.
In addition, people should make sure they have chargers for their cell phones, their laptops and chargers, back up flash and external hard drives.
Certain important documents are often overlooked but are considered to be very important – contact list, proof of insurance, proof of residency, mortgage documents, tax returns and a check book (routing numbers are needed for FEMA claims).
Medications and medical devices need to be on the list, as well as at least $200 in small bills.
Brew also posted a suggestion that people can also store water in old laundry bottle to storage water for non-drinking uses.
“We forget how much we depend on water for everything,” she said in the post, claiming people should prepare to be without water for a week.
Another device that people could forget about is a toile system for handling waste.
Brew posted a simple emergency toilet which could be constructed with a five-gallon bucket, garbage bags, a cut pool noodle, cat litter and a roll of toiet paper.
It is also portable enough that it can be put in a car when there are hazardous weather or road conditions.
With the end of summer, it is also a good time to prepare for winter, putting winter boots and gloves together in a winter kit for vehicles.
Brew also suggested that people prepare for when there may be no power and have cash set aside. “If the power goes out debit cards are not going to work. Tuck some money away in case you desperately need cash.
“Save your change for a rainy day,” she explained in the Facebook post.
Just in case
Brew also recommended that people make sure they have a printed copy of their important numbers and keep it in a wallet or purse.
That can be a back up in case the cell phone is lost, broken or can no longer use it.
In addition, put aside several meals which can be eaten out of the can or bag in case of emergencies.
Something as simple as a pair of shoes can help in the case of overnight emergencies. That can help protect feet when there is debris or broken glass on the ground.
In case of a long term disaster, Brew even posted a listing for a supply of food which would be able to last a year.
The list was broken into the categories of grains, vegetables, legumes, dairy, pasta and meat.
Adapt to needs
According to Brew, each family can develop emergency or disaster kits which meet their needs or the needs of individuals.
Using the recent event where an 87-year old South Dakota woman was missing for almost four days, the emergency manager recommended that families should stress letting people know when someone is going on a trip in case of a break down, a health emergency or just getting loss.
She also mentioned that have material stocked in the car beforehand can also help. That could include extra cell phone batteries or power banks, medication, extra water bottles and snacks.
In addition, having things in the vehicle which could be used in case of problems to help people locate the vehicle is a good idea.
One item she mentioned was a common window shade used in cars and trucks during the hot summer days. If there is a reflective surface on the inside, that could be placed on the hood or trunk to help the vehicle be locaed.
One thing that Brew stressed is staying with the vehicle, whether in the summer or winter.
“It can provide shelter or shade,” she said Tuesday.
The Civil Air Patrol is another asset which can be used to locate people in the rural parts of Dunn County, the emergency manager added.
“The Civil Air Patrol is at our fingertips all the time. They will come help… if they can fly. You know in North Dakota, we don’t always have that capability… That is why we practice on the ground a lot.
“Even year-round, it is an iffy (because of weather conditions),” she added.
“When it comes to winter and you are traveling on the highways, there are mile markers.
“So, if you are traveling, and there is really heavy snow and stuff, notice what mile marker you just passed,” Brew explained.
“If something happens or you slide into the ditch, and you have to call 9-1-1, when the operator asks where are you you can say you just passed mile marker 87 on Highway 22.
“They will right away have kind of an idea where to start to look for you,” the county emergency manager said. “They might not see your tracks. They might not see your headlights if you are down in a ditch in Dunn County. There are some spots where nobody is going to see you.”
She added that keeping track of mile markers is a good idea, no matter what the weather is.
“Communication is huge too,” she added.
“If you are going to head somewhere, tell someone where you are going and when you are leaving.
“A lot of these times when elderly people get lost, most of the family doesn’t even know they left – or where they were headed.
“When people are going somewhere, they need to share with their family. where they were going, what were there plans … just in case something happens,” Brew explained. “That is so someone can search for you.
“And if you do get lost, don’t leave your vehicle. I don’t care if it is June or July … but especially if it is winter,” Brew added.
“Stay in the vehicle, because searchers will find the vehicle.”