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A nation must think before it acts.
As was discussed in FPRI’s Situation Report (SitRep) on the “War on Terrorism” on June 2, 2005, the US has been partially successful in externali-zation of the terrorist threat in order to “buy time” to institute improvements in security, but has, for a variety of reasons, largely wasted the time purchased (at a financial cost reported to be over $350 billion.) According to the Federal govern-ment, responsibility for Homeland Security rests largely with State and Local governments, and the private sector. These actors, however, continue to believe that in the event of a terrorist action, some super-secret Federal agency will spring into action, take control, and provide needed services and resources. There is, however, no such Federal agency! We remain blissful in our ignorance.
Each of us, in addition to our civic responsi-bilities, has a more important responsibility: to protect our families and ourselves. The lessons of September 11th teach us that personal survival is a matter of decisive action and prior planning. Because, in the final analysis, security comes down to you, the following may be helpful.
IN THE OFFICE
Find your company’s evacuation plan and know how to get out, and where to meet after an emergency. Know where exit routes (including alternates,) stairways, fire extinguishers, and medical kits are located. Assemble supplies in a belt pack and have them stored in your desk (see inventory below.) Along with your supplies, keep a pair of walking shoes. Carry a list of important phone numbers in your wallet. Keep the area under your desk free of waste-paper baskets, etc. This 6 square foot area might be your home for a few traumatic moments. If you are not at your desk when something happens, don’t count on being able to make it back. Store additional supplies in your car (see below).
IN THE CAR
Even if you are at home when a disaster strikes, and your home is well stocked, you may still need the supplies in your car. Your house may not be safe to enter. Your car will be one of your most important resources after a disaster strikes. Keep it mechanically sound.
Always keep your gas tank full! Fill it when it reaches 1/2 a tank. You will thank yourself the first time you are stuck in a traffic jam in bad weather. Think of your car’s trunk as a big steel supply cabinet. Keep your supplies in the trunk along with other items like tools, jumper cables and spare tire (properly inflated…when is the last time you checked it?) Keep supplies in the car for use in an emergency. Replace your battery every 2-3 years (before it fails.) In an emergency, your car battery will need to run the radio and heater fan for extended periods.
IN THE HOME
Home is where you can do the most to be prepared. But remember that you are only home for about 12 of the hours a day.
The water heater is a large source of stored, sterile water. If municipal or well water becomes contaminated, know where and how to shut off the water to the home. Also know where and how to shut off electric power and gas and keep the necessary tools to do so at each location.
Know the unsafe and safe locations in the house. Make an emergency plan and know escape routes and pre-selected meeting places. Choose both a nearby meeting place and an out of state relative to be your check-in contact for the family. Practice this with all family members at least twice! Each family member should carry a family photo with pertinent information written on the back in permanent marker (names, ages, blood types, allergies.) All family members should know which neighbors are ready to help, which have medical training, and should know how to use 911. You should know the location of the nearest police, fire station, and hospital, know how to get there from your home, and have written directions from each to your home.
Install emergency lighting (power failure lights) in selected outlets. Place a flashlight or an emergency light next to your breaker panel. Install smoke and CO detectors on every level of your home and especially near sleeping areas.
Contact your school district to obtain their policy regarding how children will be released from school. Know their emergency numbers and direct dial numbers for the nurse’s office in each school.
STORE AT HOME
Water: 30 gallons per person (2 gallons per person per day for 1 week). This might sound excessive, but look at your water bill this month! This figure assumes that when at home, you will eventually want a sponge bath, or will cook pasta or rice. You might even wash your hair or clothes, and will eventually flush a toilet. Water may be stored in 50 gallon plastic barrels (but remember that these will weigh 450 pounds when full, and most floors will not support this. Garage and basement floors are best. Water, properly sterilized and sealed, can be stored for about a year (use household bleach, 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons.) Additional water should be stored in 5 gallon plastic containers and should be stored in separate locations away from your main water supply (not all your eggs in one basket).
Food: Each person or family should have on hand an emergency food supply other than your weekly store bought food. People tend to consume their emergency food supply too easily when it’s to readily available like canned foods, mixes, soups, etc. Store types of foods that have an extremely long shelf life that are nutritious – freeze dried camping foods and military MREs are good for this, and have a 5 year shelf life. Plan for a minimum of one week of food per person.
Cooking: Barbecue, propane unit with two 20 pound containers of propane.
Store the following items for use with above: Pot and pan for cooking, kitchen knife spoons, forks. foam cups, water proof matches and a butane lighter, zip lock bags, heavy duty aluminum foil.
Shelter: Large (20×20) waterproof tarp. 100 feet of parachute cord. Dome style freestanding camping tent. (Practice setting it up!) Emergency survival sacks (1 per family member.) Instant hand/body warming packs (a case.)
Medical: First aid kits. One for your car, one for your home, one for your belt pack. Contents vary. Also store extra prescription medications for each family member (30 day supply, pay attention to storage conditions and shelf life to rotate stock.) Comprehensive survival manual (SAS is a good one.)
Light: Flashlight with 2 sets of spare lithium (10 year shelf life) batteries and one spare bulb. Long life candles.
Communication: AM/FM radio. Store at least 3 sets of alkaline batteries for standard units. The best radio is one that has a rechargeable battery built in, and may be charged with the built in solar cell, or by cranking on a built in generator handle. Store one of these in your car as well. Pen, pencil, and paper pad. Store in zip lock bag. Stamped postcards. Store in zip lock bags. List of important phone numbers.
Tools: Fire extinguisher large 5-20 pound, type ABC. Pry bar, 1 ft min. Leather gloves. Multi-function pocket tool or knife. Duct tape. Portable generator. A Honda 2KW weighs 45 pounds, is very quiet, starts easily, and runs 8 hours on one gallon of gas. Typically, the only items in your house that will require power is your (non-electric) heating system, (non-electric) water heater, refrigerator, a few lights, and a radio. Store at least 5 gallons of gasoline – SAFELY! And remember to stabilize it when you buy it or it will be useless in 3 months.
Sanitation: Toilet tissue rolls. Store inside portable camp toilet. Contractor-type garbage bags. Can also be used as toilet liners, rain ponchos, to cover broken windows, as insulation, etc.. Pre-moistened towelettes. All purpose liquid soap. Tooth brush and paste. Disposable razor. Feminine hygiene items. Latex gloves. Gallon of disinfectant (bleach is fine.)
Baby stuff (if needed): Baby formula and plastic bottles. Large box disposable diapers. Pre moistened wet wipes. Baby blanket and knit cap. Two or three complete changes of clothes.
Miscellaneous: One complete change of functional clothing for each person (remember work or hiking boots and good socks.) Emergency poncho. Phone change. $10 in quarters. $1,000 cash, in ones, fives, and tens, stored in Ziploc bags. Duplicate credit cards. Photo copies of ID. Spare checks. Copies of social security cards, passports, licenses, insurance policies. Playing cards. Spare keys.
(This is packed in a car-top carrier hung from the ceiling of the garage. It can be mounted in less than 10 minutes.) Additional home supplies, stored in large Rubbermaid-type waterproof containers nearby can be loaded into the trunk.
A small nylon pouch or waist pack with: