By Natalie Gemberling, American Red Cross AmeriCorps Member
Have you ever thought about putting together an emergency preparedness kit, so that you’re ready for a disaster? If you are anything like me a few months ago, the answer is either: “psssh, absolutely not” or “wait, people have kits for if a disaster were to happen?” I can remember making fun of and laughing at my college roommate for even buying a weather radio. I just remember thinking: “this is Iowa, weather happens”!
Well, I am now happy to say that I have had a quick turnaround in my thoughts of being prepared for an emergency or disaster (and quite honestly am still a work in progress). I can give this thanks to my position with the American Red Cross as their AmeriCorps Youth Preparedness member, where I am now responsible for doing youth presentations on how to be prepared for and stay safe during disasters. I am a big believer in practicing what you preach, so I ultimately have been taking the steps to prepare myself. The first thing I did was one of the three things our Preparedness program encourages: I got a kit. (The three elements are: “Get a Kit”, “Make a Plan”, “Be informed” – stay tuned for future blogs this month from my fellow AmeriCorps members on the last two parts.) I chose to blog about the “Get a Kit” element, because it seemed like the most fun. I got to do a scavenger hunt in my apartment, then I got to go shopping for supplies I didn’t have for my kit. I didn’t want to buy supplies that I already had, and I wanted to make putting together the kit as easy as possible for myself and my bank account.
Some of the things I found in my apartment were: flashlight, extra batteries, bag, first aid kit, travel toothbrush and shampoo, sample germ-ex, seven-day pill box, multi-purpose tool, set of clothes, tennis shoes, copies of important documents (insurance, license, emergency contact information), cash and coins, silverware and a blanket. The only items I had to buy: bottled water (1 gallon per day for 3 days), battery/hand crank weather radio and food for 3 days (granola bars, can of mixed fruit, 3 cans chili, fruit snacks). Also, I threw in a can opener. The foods I chose to put in my kit were things I like to eat that don’t need anything to be prepared and do not need to be refrigerated. I was surprised that I actually only spent a little over $30 for my entire kit.
Once I had my kit together, I needed to find the best place to put it in my apartment. I decided that the closet next to my exit door would be best, it is right there for if I have to leave and close to my bathroom (where I would go if there were a tornado).
I encourage you to be like the new me, take action now to get yourself prepared for an emergency or disaster! Disasters happen every day; I’ve made the choice to do more than cross my fingers- will you?
It is National Preparedness Month, and the American Red Cross is encouraging everyone to become better prepared for emergencies and disasters. For more information on getting you, your family and your business prepared, go to the American Red Cross website.