Hurricanes in recent memory have hammered home no message more important than this: Don't count on immediate help from emergency crews, charities or the government. Be ready to take care of yourself at least for a few days, maybe longer. Here is a checklist to help you:
• Drinking water. Store at least a two-week supply for each member of your family. That means at least 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least 2 quarts of liquid per day. Heat can double that need. Children, nursing mothers and sick people will need more. Commercially bottled water lasts essentially forever. If you fill your own empty bottles from the tap, they will be good for about two days at room temperature, two weeks if refrigerated. Have handy a water purification kit.
• Ice. Bag up what you can in the freezer while there's still power. If power is lost, move foods that need to be chilled or frozen to an ice chest with ice once the temperature in the refrigerator or freezer no longer does the job.
• Consumables. Have at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food on hand. Even after the storm passes, it may be several days before stores reopen and restock. High-nutrition foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are optimal. Some suggestions: peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, canned meats such as tuna fish, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, canned juices, milk and soup; staples such as salt, pepper, sugar, instant coffee, iced tea mix or flavored waters; individual packets of condiments such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise that don't need to be refrigerated; comfort foods such as nuts, trail mix , crackers, pretzels, cookies, pastries, fruit roll-ups. If you have a grill, have handy easily grilled items like hot dogs and hamburgers.
• Nonconsumables. Buy throwaway tableware such as paper plates, napkins, paper or plastic cups, plastic forks, knives and spoons, as well as plenty of garbage bags, paper towels and toilet paper. Have plenty of cleaning agents such as liquid soap, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, laundry detergent and a bucket for washing clothes until power is restored. Have a manual can opener handy.
• See that your first aid kit has bandages, antiseptics, tape, compresses, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication and antacids, as well as meds for routine illnesses such as colds.
• Supplies for elderly or the ill should include Depends, bed pads, medications, special foods.
For infants have medicines, diapers, formula, bottles, wipes.
Stock a two-week supply of vitamins and medications.