Seven steps of disaster planning

“Family Emergency Preparedness Plan Workbook” is a very good planning guide for the things we have been talking about. It covers the seven steps to disaster planning. These steps came in part from the aftermath of Katrina, as did Homeland Security’s stance and involvement in disasters. I wish that I’d had something of this sort for planning prior to Katrina, at the end of the day the outcome might have been better.

Water is always at the top of the list. We all think about having drinking water, but … how do you flush the toilet? What do you use to wash your hands? I could never afford paper plates, so how do you wash dishes? If you can’t wash off you will become uncomfortable. Keep water stored in plastic jugs or containers in advance. I always keep unscented regular strength bleach in the house to purify water and to sanitize surfaces. One part bleach to 10 parts water is an effective disinfectant for surfaces. To purify water for drinking, the experts suggest boiling water. Bleach also can be added to water to make it safe to drink. Hygiene is mandatory to prevent illness.

Nonperishable food and canned food adequate for three days is what is normally suggested. I like to be prepared for longer. If you live far from a town it can be more of an issue. A manual can opener is like toilet paper, not a big deal until you need it and don’t have one. How are you going to cook? If you have a gas stove you are golden. After Hurricane Frederick we canned what was in the freezer and made blueberry jam by candle light. If you don’t cook on gas, how will you feed your family? Do you have plenty of wood or coal for your stove? Cold canned food gets old quick. So do MREs.

First aid supplies are good to have. A 10-day supply of all prescription medications is good to have as well. Other things most of us don’t think of would include a fire extinguisher and a “shut off” wrench for gas and water. If you shut your gas off, realize that you must have a professional turn it back on. If you find yourself cooking outside, it will not happen without matches. You will need waterproof matches for the “what ifs.” I personally have trouble with an ax, but I am fond of my hatchet. Duct tape can be used for a million different things. Plastic sheeting can provide quick repair or shelter. It can also protect supplies from weather. Used with rope it can provide shelter.

Important paperwork like wills, deeds and insurance paperwork needs to be kept in a waterproof portable container. I would also keep account numbers, birth records and other legal paperwork as well. Once again cash is good to have on hand.

Don’t forget the things your pet will need. If you evacuate, you will need pet immunization records as well as food, a leash and the hard-side kennel.

The Office of Emergency Management is working diligently to ensure that plans are in place to mitigate any disaster. We are each individually responsible for our own well-being. Immediate governmental intervention is not always possible. Do you have a plan?

We will have materials available at the Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs event at the Elkins High School gym Saturday and Sunday. You can also find additional materials available through our website, either at or on Facebook – Randolph County Office of Emergency Management. If I can help you my email address is