Harvard Medical school offers family disaster planning guide
- Harvard Medical school offers family disaster planning guide
Like millions of others in this country, our thoughts are with the
survivors of hurricane Katrina. We encourage you to contribute to the
response in whatever way you can. No matter where you live in the
United States, you are vulnerable to some sort of natural disaster
such as a blizzard, earthquake, flood, hurricane, or tornado. In
addition, terrorist attacks on America are also possible. Both natural
disasters and terrorist attacks can disrupt power, communication, and
transportation for days or even longer. It is best to be prepared in
advance so that if a disaster occurs, you know what to do and have the
supplies you need on hand. Regardless of the type of event, the
three-step plan created by the editors of Harvad Health Publications
at Harvard Medical School will help you cope.
You can download the 2-page plan for free at
health.harvard.edu/disaster. Readers are also permitted and encouraged
to share the plan with friends and family.
Full text below. Preparing for Disaster: 3 Step Plan
1) Collect disaster supplies
The devastating hurricane Katrina is graphic evidence of just how
disruptive natural disasters can be. Those affected are without
electricity, water, stoves, phone and even shelter. To be prepared,
collect the following items and store them so that you can find them
easily in an emergency -- but not so easily that you end up raiding
and depleting the supplies without realizing it. Some people store
these items in a section of the basement or a closet that is used
infrequently. Decide what will work best for you.
-- Bottled water (1 gallon per person per day; three-day supply ideal)
-- Cash (ATM and credit cards may not work or be accepted by businesses)
-- Cell phone (with nonelectrical charger, such as a car charger or
AAA battery pack)
-- Clothing and underwear
-- Phone numbers of friends and family
-- Documents (driver's license, passport, birth certificate, etc.) in
a waterproof container
-- Dust mask (one per person)
-- Eating utensils (plastic or disposable)
-- Emergency numbers: local, state, and federal
-- Financial inventory (a list of bank and investment accounts,
mortgages, and loans, including account numbers and location of
-- First-aid kit (see "Your first-aid kit," below)
-- Flashlight with extra batteries
-- Food (canned goods and other nonperishable items that don't require
-- Masking tape, duct tape
-- Medical information (list of your medications, any chronic
conditions, and medical history)
-- Medications (three-day supply of all daily medications)
-- Paper towels, toilet paper, and sanitary products
-- Pet supplies and carrier (include food, water, leashes, records of
-- Plastic sheeting
-- Radio (battery-operated) with extra batteries
-- Sleeping bags or blankets (one per person)
-- Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.)
-- Tools (can opener, knife, pliers; a Swiss army knife may suffice)
-- Trash bags
Kits for sale
The American Red Cross sells first-aid kits and emergency preparedness
kits for home use, and a basic disaster-supply kit especially designed
for the workplace. Order online at www.redcross.org or obtain through
your local Red Cross chapter.
2) Create a portable supply kit
In case you have to evacuate your home, it is good to put the supplies
you think you would need the most in a portable container. Some people
try to fit all of the supplies listed above in a large rolling
trashcan with a lid or a large rolling cooler. Another option is to
store the items in several small coolers or boxes. Think about what
supplies you need, what you can reasonably carry or store in your car,
and how many people will be available to help you transport the supplies.
3) Develop and practice an emergency plan
All the planning in the world won't do much good if you don't practice
ahead of time. Not only does this enable you to go through your plan
while you're calm and thinking clearly, but it also enables you to
fine-tune it before you have to put it into action.
-- Identify emergency evacuation routes and shelters in your community
and near your workplace.
-- Decide where family members should meet if you are separated in an
-- Identify a backup location to meet at, in case the first location
is impossible to reach.
-- Identify a point-person in the family who will serve as the central
contact to call in case of confusion.
-- Choose an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as a backup
contact, in the event that local lines are tied up or out of service.
-- Provide every member of the family with a cell phone or prepaid
phone card to make sure they can make a call in an emergency.
-- Consider family members with special needs while making plans. (For
example, who will help someone in a wheelchair?) Don't forget your
pets, either. (For example, where can you leave pets if you have to
evacuate to a hotel that does not allow them?)
-- Practice the plan at least once a year.
When disaster strikes
-- Listen for official news and instructions on what to do next.
-- Communicate with family members according to your plan.
-- If the disaster takes place near your home, follow instructions on
whether to evacuate.
-- Check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or have young
-- If you have gas appliances such as a stove or water heater, smell
for gas leaks. Do not light matches, candles, or turn on electrical
switches if you smell gas. Open windows and doors and leave the house
Your first-aid kit
Minor injuries can be treated at home if you have the right supplies
on hand. You can purchase most of these items at your local pharmacy
or supermarket, and then place them in a sealed container to keep them
clean. A fishing tackle box, for instance, would work well as a
first-aid kit. Remember to store your first-aid kit in a location you
can reach quickly in an emergency.
-- One roll of absorbent cotton
-- Gauze pads (4 inches square)
-- Adhesive tape (1 inch and narrower)
-- Adhesive bandages in various sizes
-- Butterfly bandages
-- Wound cleansers (soap, gels, or wipes)
-- Analgesic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (adult and child) or
aspirin (for adult use only)
-- Antihistamine for allergic reactions
-- Antiseptic ointment or cream (such as bacitracin or triple
-- Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream (1%)
-- Activated charcoal for inadvertent overdoses
-- Saline eye drops
-- Antacid for stomach upset
-- Antidiarrheal medication
-- Oral glucose preparation for low blood sugar
-- Ace bandages
-- Cold/hot packs
-- Cotton swabs
-- Scissors and safety pins
-- Surgical gloves (disposable)
Harvard Medical School