NEW CUMBERLAND - The Hancock County Health Department reminds residents that September is National Preparedness Month and encouraging residents to make emergency kits and disaster plans.
During June, the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest experienced one of the most destructive and deadly thunderstorms in North American history. The result was 22 deaths, widespread damage and millions of power outages across the affected region. In West Virginia, about 672,000 residents were without electricity for one to 14 days. Many were also without safe drinking water during that time as well.
Depending on the disaster, the first decision is whether to remain at home or evacuate. Residents should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information to determine what action to take. Watch local television and listen to local radio for official instructions as they become available. Emergency instructions that are intended for residents of Pittsburgh may not be the same instructions that will be issued for the residents of Hancock County.
Residents should develop a family communication plan, as family members may not be together in the event of a disaster. Families should consider whether each family member would call or email the same friend or relative in an emergency. Residents should note it may be easier to call long distance during a disaster, and an out-of-town contact may be best. All family members should have the phone number and a pre-paid phone card or money to make a call. Residents should discuss with their families how best to contact each other in different emergency situations.
Items to include in a home emergency preparedness kit should include essentials for each family member. Below is a list of items that should be included in an emergency preparedness kit.
One gallon of water per day for each person;
At least a three-day supply of non perishable food;
Flashlight with extra batteries;
First aid kit;
Hand-cranked or battery-operated radio; and
Liquid bleach to purify drinking water. When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, it can be used as a disinfectant, or in an emergency, it can be used to treat water by using 16 drops of regular unscented household liquid bleach per gallon of water.
Food items should include canned meats, fruits and vegetables; sugar, salt and pepper; peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars; trail mix; vitamins; cookies, hard candy and cereal. A hand-operated can opener also should be included.
An emergency kit should include at least one complete change of clothing for each family member; sturdy shoes or work boots; rain gear and warm socks; blankets or sleeping bags; hats and gloves; thermal underwear; and sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray.
Other supplies to keep on hand include mess kits, paper cups and plastic utensils, batteries, duct tape, wooden matches in a waterproof container; aluminum foil; plastic storage containers; signal flares; paper and pencils; needles and thread; shovel and tools; plastic sheeting; state, county and city maps; fire extinguisher; money; utility knife; paper towels; personal hygiene items; plastic bags and ties; plastic bucket with tight lid; spray disinfectant; towelettes or diaper wipes; toilet paper; baby formula and bottles; canned baby food and juice; and medications.
Other items to consider including include prescription medications; insulin and kit; basic first aid kit; dentures, eye glasses and extra contact lenses; cell phones; important family documents, including copies of prescriptions; and a special toy or item to help children or adults cope.
For information on disaster readiness, visit the health department website at HancockCountyHealthDepartment.com or call (304) 564-3343.