Virginia, was trapped alone inside her home for 10
days by 35 inches of snow during “Snowmaggedon”
in February 2010. She survived with a woodburning stove and ample firewood plus a month’s
worth of non-perishable food and bottled water.
“The Y2K scare 13 years ago prompted me and
my husband to increase our level of preparedness,”
Aton Edwards, executive director of the
International Preparedness Network in New York
City, says it’s crucial to maintain a high state of readiness at all times and develop a preparedness plan.
“Always maintain an emergency supply of water
and food, pack a bag with all that you need to survive outside your home for at least one week and
have emergency money available, as ATMs may not
be operational,” says Edwards. “Additionally, have an
evacuation route planned out, with three alternative
escape routes prepared in case your first choice fails.”
An effective preparedness plan should address
all 14 human needs: food, water, shelter, light,
heating/cooling, air, sleep, hygiene, medicine,
communications, electrical power, financial security,
transportation and protection, says Arthur Bradley,
the Yorktown, Virginia–based author of Handbook
to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family
(Skyhorse Publishing, 2011; not available at Costco).
“There are five cornerstones to preparing,” says
Bradley, a Costco member. “Stock extra consumables;
collect tools and supplies; develop useful knowledge
and skills, e.g., first aid and home repair; buy insurance
and establish an emergency fund; and establish a
support group among neighbors, friends and family.”
Taking steps now, adds Ward, “can make a
huge difference in how well your family survives
a disaster.” C
Erik J. Martin is a Chicago-area freelance writer.
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com carry just about every
item needed to create survival and first-aid kits, as
well as offering premade kits with first-aid items
and multiple days’ worth of food and drinking
water. Members can also find generators, water
filters, fuel, ReadyFuel and much more.
By Erik J. Martin
CONSIDERING THE INCREASED threats and
hazards we face today—from severe storms to
nuclear emergencies to terrorist attacks—and with
September being National Preparedness Month
and the upcoming 12th anniversary of 9/11, there’s
no better time to learn what’s required to endure a
“Every community has different risks,” says
Nancy Ward, regional administrator for the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “If
your area is not disaster-prone, that doesn’t mean
other emergencies may not arise. Disasters come in
all different forms, shapes and sizes, such as a
Ward says emergency responses from FEMA
and the government can be successful only when
the whole community, including the private sector
and nonprofits, is part of the team. “That’s why
individual preparedness steps taken by each citizen
are so important,” she says.
Ready for the worst
Geeta Robles was certainly prepared last May
when an EF5 tornado ripped through her hometown of Moore, Oklahoma. Her home emergency
system alerted her five minutes before community
tornado sirens blared, and she took refuge in her
underground shelter with appropriate supplies.
Robles’ home was spared, but her father, just five
miles away, was among the 24 fatalities.
Sally Strackbein, a Costco member in Oak Hill,
TO SAFEGUARD YOU
and your loved ones,
FEMA recommends the
following steps. Visit
www.ready.gov for more
1. Be informed.
Stay current about emergencies that historically
occur in your community.
2. Make a plan.
Designate meeting places
where your family can
rendezvous after an emergency. Identify an out-of-area contact who will
serve as the go-to person
with whom all family
members can connect.
3. Be involved.
Participate in readiness
drills and response-team
organizations in your
4. Build kits.
Build kits in easy-to-carry
bags or rolling suitcases:
one for home, one for
your car and one for your
workplace. FEMA recommends changing stored
food and water every six
months and checking to
make sure flashlights and
any other survival items
in a kit are functional.
Each kit should include:
; One gallon of water per
person per day (three
; Canned, packaged or
freeze-dried food (three
days minimum supply)
plus manual can opener
; Battery-powered or
; Flashlight with extra
; First-aid kit
; Signal whistle
; Dust mask, plastic
sheeting and duct tape
for sheltering in place
; Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
for personal sanitation
; Wrench/pliers to turn
; Local maps
; Cellphone with
chargers, inverter or
When disaster hits
Preparedness is key
SEE PAGE 57 for tips
on keeping pets safe
in an emergency.