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Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

How well would your family fare in the event of a natural disaster?

Nashville, Ark. – Emergency preparedness is something we may not think about until it happens to us. Seeing how the recent snowstorm and extremely cold weather affected not only locally but our neighbors next door, you may be thinking, “How can I be prepared in the event my electricity goes out and I don’t have any water?” Even the weather announcers on the news are talking about Spring Storm season. How well would your family fare in the event of a natural disaster?

            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 do you keep an emergency kit?

            Find a place in your home where you can keep supplies handy. It may be a closet that you designate or a corner of the 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 or have expired.

What do you put in an emergency kit?

            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.

            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!

Rosemary Focaccia Bread Recipe

            Here is another great recipe coming to us from the recent Howard County 4-H Bread and Cookie Contest. This recipe was submitted by Adelene Westfall, a member of the Teen Leaders 4-H Club. This bread is delicious served alongside any meal, especially Italian food!

  • 1 1/3 c. warm water (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 tsp. sugar or honey
  • 1 (0.25 oz.) pkg. active dry yeast
  • 3 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tsp. *flaky sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  1. Add warm water and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough attachment and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Give the yeast a quick stir to mix it in with the water. Then let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is foamy. 
  2. **Set the mixer to low speed and add gradually flour, olive oil and salt. Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes. (If the dough is too sticky and isn’t pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add in an extra ¼ cup flour while it is mixing.)
  3. Remove dough from the mixing bowl and use your hands to shape it into a ball. Grease the mixing bowl (or a separate bowl) with olive oil or cooking spray, then place the dough ball in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Place in a warm location and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out into a large circle or rectangle until the dough is about ½-in thick. Cover the dough again with the damp towel, and let the dough continue to rise for another 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the dough to a large parchment covered baking sheet or press it into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Use your fingers to poke deep dents all over the surface of the dough. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil evenly all over the top of the dough, and sprinkle evenly with the fresh rosemary needles and sea salt.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the dough is slightly golden and cooked through. Remove from oven and drizzle with a little more olive oil, if desired. Slice, and serve warm.

            *Flaky vs. fine sea salt: If you do not have flaky sea salt on hand, you can substitute fine sea salt. Just use about half the amount of salt.

            **To knead the dough by hand, Complete step 1 in a large mixing bowl. Gradually stir in the flour, olive oil and salt until a shaggy dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes until smooth, adding extra flour if the dough feels too sticky.

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


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.