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September is National Preparedness Month

The scenario: A magnitude 7 earthquake has just occurred, with the epicenter in the Puget Sound, south of Seattle.

The earthquake was shallow and the area suffered a lot of structural damage. As a result, many people have been injured or have been trapped by debris. Several fires have also been ignited due to gas line ruptures and electrical complications. Much of the city is without power or water. Emergency responders have been deployed to areas experiencing the most life-threatening damage. It will take days to contain the situation and to restore critical infrastructure.

Your neighborhood has suffered a lot of damage and many of the roads are impassable. You realize you may have to sit tight for several days or more.

Will your family be prepared?

September is National Preparedness Month. Cities around the country are encouraging individuals and businesses to get better prepared. Some people say it’s all a bunch of hype, given such movies as “The Day After Tomorrow” and “Independence Day.” But ask those who have experienced the eye of a storm and they would likely give you an earful on how important basic preparedness is.

Recently, we were asked how best to prepare for an unknown emergency. No matter the emergency, a good place to start is by building a basic home emergency kit. Of course, once the basic kit is established, additional items can be added over time by asking yourself a few “what-if” questions.

• Food/water: Three days food per person (non-perishable); three gallons water per person; pet food (leash); infant formula/food; can opener; one reusable place setting per person; water purification tablets.

• Hygiene/First Aid: Basic kit with various sized bandages, pain killer, disinfectant and scissors; general hygiene items including hand sanitizer; extra prescription meds; toiletries; towels.

• Survival: Flashlight with extra batteries; emergency radio, battery or hand-crank; knife, ax, crowbar; duct tape; large plastic lawn bags for trash and shelter-in-place; matches; copies of important documents and insurance card; small amount of cash.

• Comfort: Extra clothes and shoes; blankets; games, books, cards, notepad, pen; favorite candy; work gloves. All items should be in a sturdy, fire-resistant, water-proof container.

Another question we get is, “Why do I need the extra food when I have this much and more in my pantry?” We encourage you to ask those “what-if” questions, the most obvious of which is, “What if my kitchen suffers a lot of damage?” The damage could be caused by any number of causes, including fire. We also get concerns about the cost to build a kit. Take another look at the list — you might already have many of these items. In fact, for those of you who are campers, you may have most of the items. Why not consider a dual-purpose kit for camping/emergency use. In this way, all of the items are always together in a designated space and when used for camping, it’s a perfect time to take stock of supplies. To get started, focus on items you already have then move on to those you need to acquire. Check out garage sales or other used-goods sources for items you need. For extra medications, check with your doctor for sample packets.

If you'd like to know more about basic preparedness or are interested in taking a preparedness class, check out the city's Web site at www.cityoffederalway.com/prepare.

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