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Prepare For The Worst, Hope For The Best

Helping kids prepare their own disaster kits can help them face the storms with a little less fear.

April has been the month for strong storms in our area—strong winds, driving rains, thundering hail, tornado touchdown makes Dorothy’s trip to Oz look like a leisurely Sunday drive.

This is our fourth year here in St. Charles County, and the weather never ceases to amaze us. Watching the movie “Twister” was the closest I’d ever gotten to a tornado before packing up the family and moving out west.

We were trying to reassemble a Lego starship when the first round of hail hit. It sounded like someone was emptying a sack of rocks onto the roof of our house. E looked at me with wide eyes and ran screaming for the basement. C was taking a “wait and see” approach—if he found it was something he should be worried about, he’d hyperventilate then. I coaxed E out of the basement and retrieved a golf-ball size piece of hail from my front yard so the kids could touch it. I thought telling them about how and why it hails would help calm them down. About that time the sky began to turn an eerie green and a bolt of lightning sent E scurrying for cover all over again.

I had to try a different tactic. If the guys felt like they had some control over the situation, it might help alleviate some of their fears.

I decided to help the boys make their own disaster kits.

We dug through disorganized closets until we found their old backpacks. I asked them to help me think of things we would need in an emergency. Into the backpacks went flashlights, whistles with attached compasses they got in their stockings this year, granola bars, bottles of water, Nintendo DS’s, a few bandages, and C shoved his stuffed Clifford in, “just in case”.

After all of the supplies were assembled, the boys made their camp in the alcove beneath the basement stairs. We drug their sleeping bags and pillows into the cubby and while the storm raged outside, the boys whispered to one another by flashlight what they would do if a tornado lifted our house off the ground.

Long after the weather had quieted, they were still lost under the stairs in their own little play world of rescue relief. Unfortunately, that effort is playing out in real life all across the St Louis area. The video of the damage on Saturday morning left us in shock. We were lucky and said a prayer for those who have lost so much. We also began to think about making our own disaster preparedness kit, as we were incredibly unprepared.

According to the website ready.gov, some of the items you should have in a disaster kit include:

  • Water, at least 1 gallon per person a day for at least three days.
  • Non-perishable food, enough for at least three days and a can-opener.
  • A battery powered radio and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries.
  • A first aid kit
  • Cell phone with charger.
  • A whistle to alert rescue workers where you are.

You can also make a video or a list of all of your belongings for insurance purposes. Be sure to record serial numbers of televisions, computers, stereos, and other electronics. Put this in a waterproof safe or other secure location.

Be safe and be prepared.

Patti Baratta April 26, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Two things to add to the disaster kit: prescription glasses (even an old pair) and any medication that you cannot live without in the event that the neighborhood Walgreens is out of commission. Another thing I just read somewhere... Each family member should have a pair of shoes that fit well stashed wherever they are headed (basement) in the event of a tornado. If you head to your basement in the middle of the night without shoes on, the glass and debris pose a hazard to bare feet when you emerge.

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