Prep emergency kits now in case disaster strikes quickly

Ten years after the 2010 flood that devastated Clarksville and other areas along the Cumberland River, disasters big, small and in between remain a constant threat in the area.

September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to build, check or replenish emergency kits, said Jay Fangman, Fort Campbell emergency management specialist.

Other natural hazards to the area include tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, winter weather and ice storms, and even earthquakes.

Simply having a kit for your Family and vehicle, along with a disaster plan, can go a long way to being self-sufficient for at least three days, depending on the emergency.

“It would be a good idea to have a kit ready if you need to quickly evacuate your home,” Fangman said. “Those items that you need if you are sheltering in-place could be kept separately. Evacuation kits should contain a change of clothes, prescriptions, important documents, phone charger, toiletry items, personal hygiene items, etc.”

Items for a shelter in-place kit should include stable food and bottled water.

Other items include non-electric can opener, gas powered generator, sanitization items, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, battery powered lights and lanterns, he said.

“Supplies should last a minimum of 72 hours,” Fangman recommends. “Rotate food, water, batteries as they approach expiration dates.”

The theme for this year’s National Preparedness Month is “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

“For those Families who don’t have a kit, I would recommend starting off just buying a large plastic container and labeling it ‘Emergency Kit,’ Fangman said. “Then with every trip to the grocery or Exchange, just pick up one item and add it to the kit. Before you know it, you will have a well-stocked kit.”

Fangman suggests those who already have kits should check them at least twice each year to make sure supplies are still in date and intact.

One general kit, not specific to any emergency scenario, should be enough for most, but Fangman also recommends having a vehicle emergency kit.

Factors to consider are what hazards are in your area and the climate, such as cold weather versus hot weather, he said. Although it’s not necessary to have a kit for every Family member, Fangman said, he would not discourage that effort.

And don’t forget about the four-legged members of your Family.

“Pets must always be considered when planning for disasters,” he said. “If you have to evacuate, make sure you have a pet carrier because safe havens (shelters) can accommodate your pets but they have a limited number of cages.”

Essential staples for prep kits include food, water, prescriptions, lanterns, flashlights, batteries, can openers and phone charges, Fangman said.

“Other than perishable food or dangerous items, I would not discourage any items you feel might help you get through an emergency,” he said.

Fangman said many people mean to build prep kits but put it off and don’t get around to it until it’s too late.

“People never think (emergencies) will happen to them, or they can just tough it out,” he said.

Army Families know the importance of being ready for anything and prepared, Fangman said.

“Building an emergency kit is a lot like preparing to go to the field,” he said. “Soldiers are issued many of the items needed in an emergency kit. Saving left over MREs from field problems are great for emergency kits. Think of it as preparing your Family for an extended field training exercise.”