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Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

Is your family ready in the event of a natural disaster?

Nashville, Ark. – With snow last week and storm season just around the corner, I started thinking about emergency preparedness. Remembering back, there was a time when many families went for three weeks without electricity, water, etc. What if an ice storm or tornado kept you from getting to the store or you were without electricity for several days or even weeks? Is your family ready in the event of a natural disaster?

            The first thing you should do when preparing your home is to make sure you have a well stocked pantry. A pantry stocked with the right essentials can make hot meal prep easier and cut the number of midweek trips to the grocery store. Each week, make sure your pantry is well stocked. Keep a grocery list to replace items as they are used. Not only will this help if the power goes out, but it also makes meal planning every day easier.

            During the time of a disaster, there may be no access to food, water, heat or air and power for days or weeks at a time. Since food and water truly are necessary for life, planning for them in the face of pending disasters makes a lot of sense. Most sources recommend a minimum of three days up to a three week supply of nonperishable food and water for each member of the family.

            Where will you keep all of these supplies? Find a place in your home where you can keep supplies handy. It may be a closet that you designate or a part of a pantry. It may be an area of your safe room or storm shelter. Check the supplies on a regular basis and rotate as necessary. That means checking the use by date on the packaging and replacing those that are about to expire.

            When deciding what to eat, planning is the key. Plan menus to include as much variety as possible; three weeks worth of Vienna sausage, sardines, saltine crackers and beans will get old quick. Plan to include fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and even some dairy products, if possible. Canned fruits, crackers and protein sources such as canned tuna are easy to store and last for several months. When choosing vegetables, make sure you have a way to heat them up before eating them. Dried or canned milk can be great choices for dairy. Make sure you have enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work cleaning up after the disaster. Also, be sure to pack a manual can opener.

            In a disaster situation, it’s best to use bottled water if at all possible. Have at least a three day supply of water and store at least one gallon of water per person per day. For a family of four that’s twelve gallons. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking.

            Purchase commercially bottle water, keep it in its original container and observe the “use by” date. Or, if you prepare your own containers of water, use food grade water storage containers from camping supply stores. Clean them before filling with water. You may also choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Glass bottles can break.

            Thoroughly clean soft drink bottles with dishwashing soap and water, rinse completely so there is no residual soap. Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach into a quart of water. Swish the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

            Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water that has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine. You do not have to add anything else to keep it clean. Replace water prepared by you every six months. Why go to so much trouble? Ask yourself, “On top of everything else, do I want a stomach bug?”

            Be sure to plan foods for infants, elderly persons, or persons with special dietary needs. Keep an adequate supply of prescription medications and a first aid kit. Don’t forget your pets. Plan a pet survival kit with food and water too.

            Other things you might want to include in your kit include a flashlight, extra batteries, toilet paper and paper towels, zipper type plastic bags, and card games.

            For more information on disaster planning, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You can also visit the FEMA and Homeland Security web sites on the Internet.

            Let’s hope a disaster does not happen in our area. Let’s be prepared in the event one does!

Recipe of the Week

            Looking for a great after school snack for your kids? Here is one they can make themselves. You will feel great about them enjoying this snack, because it is nutritious!

Tooty-Fruity Pudding Cups

1 (3/4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding

2 cups skim milk

2 cups fresh or canned fruit of your choice, sliced

1 ½ cups crunchy nugget cereal

            Mix pudding according to package instructions, using the 2 cups milk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set.

            Make individual fruit cups by measuring 1/3 cup fruit in bottom of cup. Add layer of pudding, sprinkle with cereal. Add a layer of pudding. Sprinkle with cereal. Add a layer of pudding. Sprinkle top with remaining cereal at serving time. Yield: 8 (1/2 cup) servings

            Nutrition Information Per Serving: 130 calories, 0.5g fat, 3g protein, 28g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 250 mg sodium. Good source of vitamin C.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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