The following tips on properly preparing for unexpected emergencies have been gathered from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Web site (www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0287.xml ).
Assemble an Emergency Kit
A person should be able to survive comfortably for at least a three-day period -- the amount of time that may be needed to remain in a home until the danger from a biological, chemical or radiological attack has passed.
Each person should havea change of clothes, sleeping bag and food and water. A gallon of water per person per day should be enough. Canned and dried foods are easy to store and prepare in planning for such a situation.
The Homeland Security Department also advises gathering basic emergency supplies: flashlight, battery-powered radio, extra batteries, first-aid kit, prescription medicines and toilet articles.
The department says duct tape and heavy-duty plastic garbage bags can be used to seal windows and doors. It advises that all household members should know where the emergency kit is kept. It also suggests that bringing a disaster supply kit to work or leaving one in the car should be considered.
Make a Family Communication Plan
A family may not be together at home when an attack occurs, the department warns, therefore, family members should know contact phone numbers and how to get in touch with each other. It also suggests that everyone should have the phone number of an out-of-state friend or relative to contact. Other advice is to keep a list of emergency numbers near the phone.
In addition, the department says to select a safe room, where everyone can gather, preferably an interior room above ground, with few windows and doors.
Learn More About Readiness
The department says planning is important, and if a family knows what to expect, members will be calmer in the aftermath of a terrorist event. Planning should include where to turn for instructions, such as radio and television outlets.
Local authorities will broadcast information as quickly as possible concerning the nature of the emergency and what to do next. The department says broadcasts should be monitored for updates on the situation.
Other ways to plan ahead include taking a first-aid and CPR classes in order to provide emergency medical help if needed. It also is advised to review insurance policies to reduce the economic impact of a potential disaster.
In addition, the department says planning should include arrangements for elderly family members and neighbors or those with special needs, as well as for pets not allowed in public shelters. -- WJM