MSG Don Murphy
Homeland Security Coordinator

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Richland County Homeland Security

As we are often reminded by events across America and around the world, disaster can strike at any time. Terrorism in its many forms, weather and other natural disasters, and accidental emergencies are regularly highlighted in the news. Public safety and emergency response agencies on the local, state, and federal levels are working to prevent and prepare for all types of catastrophes, but there is more that can be done. Citizens have a critical role in partnering with public officials to help families, neighborhoods, and entire communities be better prepared.

There is little debate that the “Knowledge is power” adage is true. Also, we know that panic is caused primarily by fear. If citizens remain informed and educated about the dangers we face in today’s world, this knowledge can translate into a powerful means of reducing panic in the face of tragedy.

The concept of preparedness certainly includes packing a bag and writing a communications plan. But more than that, it is a mindset. Preparedness is a full-time responsibility, and must be considered in advance of a disaster.  Also, being prepared for one type of event largely prepares you for other types, as well. So, it’s not necessary to maintain a hurricane kit and a separate terrorism kit. The “Emergency Kit” link will provide you with a checklist for packing your supplies. This checklist is suggested as guidance to get you started, but you should tailor these recommendations to fit the needs of your family.

In addition to the general suggestions found in the checklist, here are a few specific tips that may prove helpful:

Batteries – Radios and flashlights packed in your kit should be stored without batteries installed. Batteries will last longer in their original packages, and will not corrode in the device during long periods of inactivity. However, make sure to keep at least one flashlight “armed and ready”, perhaps at your bedside.

Water – A great tip for storing water is to freeze it. Clean out a plastic milk jug (with a screw-on cap), fill with water, and place in the freezer. Not only does this provide a substantial block of ice to use in a cooler, but you’ll also have drinking water once it melts. With packaged water bottles, store plastic instead of glass. The recommendation of one gallon per person, per day is only a suggestion, and will vary from person to person. In addition to drinking, this amount also includes a little for cooking and light bathing. You may find that ½ gallon per day for drinking alone is sufficient. However, since drinking is most crucial, bathe and cook at the end of the day to be sure you have enough.

Food – Try to stock up on food that will help you survive, not necessarily make you most comfortable. Chocolate may hit the spot during normal conditions, but should not take up important space during a disaster. Stick with foods that are nutritious and/or sources of protein. Energy bars, peanut butter, and canned tuna make excellent “meals” during an emergency. Remember to think “survival” versus “vacation”. However, it is critical that you test the food first, especially on the children, to make sure everyone likes it and will eat it.


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