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Presidential Proclamation – National Preparedness
“Time and again, America faces crises that test our readiness and challenge our resolve — from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods to shootings, cyber incidents, and even acts of terrorism. While my Administration is working tirelessly to avert national tragedies, it is every American‘s responsibility to be prepared. By planning for emergencies, individuals can protect themselves and their families while also contributing to their communities’ resilience. During national preparedness, we refocus our efforts on readying ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, and our Nation for any crisis we may face. My Administration is committed to preparing our country for the full range of threats. In the face of an emergency, we will continue to cut through red tape and bolster coordination.”
– Barack Obama
The National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order (Executive Order 13603) is an order of the United State’s President signed by President Barack Obama on March 16, 2012. The purpose of this executive order is to delegate authority and address national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950. Executive Order 13603 provides the framework and authority for the allocation or appropriation of resources, materials and services to promote national defense.
The Importance of Being Self-Sufficient
After an emergency happens resources can be strained quickly and you may have to do without electricity, water service, telephone service, and access to a grocery store just to name a few. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to have the ability to be self-sufficient after an emergency occurs.
“One of the best ways people can help their community and first responders is to be self-sufficient after a disaster;” said Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney, “by being self-sufficient, people can take a lot of pressure and strain off of vital resources. Additionally, resources may not be able to reach you for a variety of reasons so you should be prepared by having important items already on hand.”
One of the easiest ways to be self-sufficient is to build an emergency supply kit. These kits or “bug-out” bags, are simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. You should assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency because you may not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them. Keeping your kit organized in some sort of container also ensures that if you have to evacuate you can quickly take your kit with you.
There are a number of basic items that should go into your kit that you probably already have around the house, like water, food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, a can opener, and a radio. There are other items that you may not have thought of or may not have at home, like dust masks, moist towelettes, garbage bags, or a sleeping bag.
Don’t forget to take into account the needs of everyone, that thinking of things like diapers, formula, medications, contact lenses and supplies, special food, or coloring books or activities for kids.
While building your emergency supply kit can seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. When you go out to the store, see what’s on sale that you need and pick up a few things at a time, that way you don’t break the bank. Another tip is rather than buying bottled water; you can disinfect empty 2-liter bottles and fill them with water. Can’t think of what you want for a birthday or holiday; why not suggest people buy you preparedness supplies, that way you get something you’ll actually use.
BUILD A KIT
A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.
Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or universal solar charger
- Dropper bottle of bleach. Labeled and wrapped up.
Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies:
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Remember any special dietary needs.
- Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.
- Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.
The following items are suggested when selecting emergency food supplies. You may already have many of these on hand.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
Food Safety and Sanitation
Flood, fire, national disaster or the loss of power from high winds, snow or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food. Knowing what to do before and after an emergency can help you reduce your risk of illness and minimize the amount of food that may be lost due to spoilage.
Power outages can occur at any time of the year and it may take from a few hours to several days for electricity to be restored to residential areas. Without electricity or a cold source, food stored in refrigerators and freezers can become unsafe. Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, and if these foods are consumed, people can become very sick.
- Keep food in covered containers.
- Keep cooking and eating utensils clean.
- Keep garbage in closed containers and dispose outside, burying garbage if necessary.
- Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.
- Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated floodwater.
- Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more.
- Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
- Use ready-to-feed formula, if possible, for formula-fed infants. If using ready-to-feed formula is not possible, it is best to use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. Use treated water to prepare formula only if you do not have bottled or boiled water. Breastfed infants should continue breastfeeding.
- Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded, even though the product may look safe to eat.
- Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal, even if the can looks normal.
- Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons.
Note: Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. To be safe, remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Alternative cooking sources in times of emergency including candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace.
Charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only.
Solar ovens are also a great way to cook food.
Commercially canned food may be eaten out of the can without warming.
To heat food in a can:
- Remove the label.
- Thoroughly wash and disinfect the can. (Use a diluted solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.)
- Open the can before heating.
Purifying Water During an Emergency
The treatments described below work only to remove bacteria or viruses from water. If you suspect the water is unsafe because of chemicals, oils, poisonous substances, sewage or other contaminants, do not drink the water. Don’t drink water that is dark colored, has an odor or contains solid materials.
Storing water safely
The best source of drinking water during an emergency is water you have stored with your emergency supplies.
- Store one gallon of water per person per day–enough for at least three days.
- Store-bought, factory-sealed bottled water is best. Check for an expiration date and replace as needed.
- If you choose to fill your own water containers:
- Collect the water from a safe supply.
- Store water in thoroughly washed plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
- Seal water containers tightly, label with date, and store in a cool, dark place.
- Replace water every six months.
- Never reuse a container that held toxic substances such as pesticides, chemicals or oil.
Purifying by boiling
If your tap water is unsafe, boiling is the best method to kill disease-causing organisms.
If tap water is unavailable, the following may be considered as potential water sources. Water taken from these sources should be boiled before drinking.
- Rivers and streams
- Natural springs
Caution: Many chemical pollutants will not be removed by boiling.
Cloudy water should be filtered before boiling. Filter cloudy water using coffee filters, paper towels, cheesecloth or a cotton plug in a funnel.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one full minute.
- Let the water cool before drinking.
- Add two drops of household bleach per gallon to maintain water quality while in storage.
Purifying by adding liquid chlorine bleach
- Treat water by adding liquid household bleach, such as Clorox or Purex.
- Household bleach is typically between 5.25 percent and 8.25 percent chlorine. Read the label.
- Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. Be sure to read the label.
- Cloudy water should be filtered before adding bleach if possible.
- Place the water in a clean container. Add the amount of bleach according to the table below.
- Mix thoroughly and let stand for at least 60 minutes before drinking.
Treating water with household bleach containing 5.25-8.25 percent chlorine
Volume of Water to be Treated
Bleach Solution to Add
1 quart/1 liter
1 gallon, 1/2 gallon/2 quarts/2 liters
10 drops if water is dirty, wait 30 min. before you drink it
Caution: Bleach will not kill some disease-causing organisms commonly found in surface water. Bleach will not remove chemical pollutants. Be sure to keep a well marked, sealed dropper bottle of bleach in your bug-out bag as well.
A good backup to a filter if you ran across a really silty water source. It’s a bit expensive ($15 for six packets, $12 at WalMart), and the packets treat something like 2.5 gallons at a time (which seems like way too much for a backpacker – who’d want to carry that much water?), but I thought it might come in handy in an emergency. and –
Family Supply List
Water, food, and clean air are important things to have if an emergency happens. Each family or individual’s kit should be customized to meet specific needs, such as medications and infant formula. It should also be customized to include important family documents.
Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic Kit:
– Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
– Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
– Battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
– Flashlight and extra batteries
– First Aid kit
– Whistle to signal for help
– Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
– Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
– Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
– Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
– Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
– Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Clothing and Bedding:
If you live in a cold weather climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family changes. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:
– A jacket or coat
– Long pants
– A long sleeve shirt
– Sturdy shoes
– A hat and gloves
– A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
Below are some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit. Some of these items, especially those marked with a * can be dangerous, so please have an adult collect these supplies.
– Rain gear
– Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
– Cash or traveler’s checks, change
– Paper towels
– Fire Extinguisher
– Matches in a waterproof container*
– Signal flare*
– Paper, pencil
– Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
– Household chlorine bleach* – You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
– Medicine dropper
– Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Make a Plan and Practice, Practice, Practice!
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Read more about Family Communication during an emergency.
Ready.gov has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Emergency Plan (FEP) and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.
You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance. Read more about school and workplace plans.
Child’s Emergency Contacts Card
(PDF – 998 Kb)
Caring for Animals
If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Unfortunately, animals are also affected by disaster.
The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals.
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
If you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
Ready.gov has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Emergency Plan (FEP) (PDF – 450 Kb) and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.
There are many tips and tools to help you become self-sufficient after an emergency, go to ready.gov to learn more.