Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Are you and your family ready for a natural disaster?


June 4, 2013

Tornadoes and hurricanes seem to be running amok lately with the promise of more to come and the devastation we see is unbearable. Seeing entire communities swept away by raging winds and water is almost unbelievable at times.

Families left with nothing but the shirts on their backs and some have even lost loved ones.

After witnessing the devastation through television and internet many of us wonder what we would do if something like this came to our part of the country. Would we be prepared to handle the devastation? Would our insurance cover natural disaster loss? Would we be able to find food and shelter for our families?

While we may not see tornadoes like the one that wiped out Moore, Oklahoma or hurricanes like Sandy that took out much of the East coast, we could see earthquakes that shake us to our core and volcanoes erupting smoke and debris across our quaint community.

What can we do to prepare for such devastation?

FEMA’s website, has loads of information and even offers plans that can be printed off and used to prepare yourself for emergencies.

They suggest starting with something as simple as making a plan. How will you let your loved ones know you’re all right? How will you find each other if you are split up, as most of us are during the day? gives you the resources and pdf files to fill out with your family so that you have all of these questions answered before an emergency takes place.

Whenever we hear about preparing for an emergency the first thing we seem to hear is ‘make sure you have a 72-hour kit’ for you and each of your family members, including pets.

A basic kit includes the following: 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 solar charger.

They also suggest you include prescription medications and glasses; Infant formula and diapers; Pet food and extra water for your pet; Cash or traveler’s checks and change; Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.

When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners; Fire extinguisher; Matches in a waterproof container; Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items; Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils; Paper and pencil; Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children.

As we witnessed during Hurricane Katrina, the government can’t always rescue you in a timely manner. You may be stuck with hundreds of other people for days on end. Having your own supplies could make the difference between being hungry, thirsty and cold or well fed and warm.

It’s also a good idea to keep a small kit in your car in case you are stuck on the road for an extended length of time. Remember the snowstorms we had a few years back when people were stranded in their vehicles for hours and even days on end?

Being prepared will keep us calm in an otherwise very scary situation. If we know we can keep our family fed and supplied with water for a few days it will be easier to cope with the unanswered questions that will arise. It will also help us be prepared to help others.

Please take some time to talk to your family, fill out those information sheets and prepare 72-hour kits that can be grabbed quickly. I promise you will thank me someday.


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