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Cool head, preparation help in emergencies

Charleston Daily Mail photo illustration by Kevin Cade Experts suggest keeping a first aid kit handy, along with a battery-operated radio, flashlight and other supplies you might need in a pinch.
Charleston Daily Mail photo illustration by Kevin Cade
Experts suggest keeping a first aid kit handy, along with a battery-operated radio, flashlight and other supplies you might need in a pinch.

By Zack Harold

Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – If West Virginia didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all.

Over the last two years we’ve seen massive power outages and property damage from a derecho, hazardous roadways and still more power outages from a freak snowstorm/tropical storm, record-breaking cold weather and record-breaking heat.

Last week, the Kanawha Valley saw a chemical spill that forced some 300,000 residents to drink, cook and even bathe with bottled water.

If this recent disaster caught you unawares, it’s time to take a page from the old Boy Scout handbook and “be prepared.”

Nobody knows what’s next – a plague of locusts, maybe? – but with a few simple, inexpensive supplies, your family can be ready.

Food & water

Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, recommends keeping at least a three-day supply of water, with three gallons of water for each member of the family.

“Also, plan on having the same for your pets,” he said.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), children, nursing mothers and sick people might require more than one gallon per day. High temperatures or medical emergencies also might increase the need for water.

The water should be stored in a cool, dry place in its original container.

If storing water in your own containers, FEMA recommends using two-liter plastic soft drink bottles instead of milk or juice cartons.

To sanitize the containers, mix one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach with a quart of water. Shake up the bottle so the solution touches all the surfaces, and then thoroughly rinse the bottle.

Pre-chlorinated water does not need to be treated before storage, but non-treated water (like well water) should be mixed with two drops of unscented chlorine bleach. Let it sit for 30 minutes before using.

Gupta said there’s no good information on how long commercially purchased water can last on the shelf. The easiest way to ensure water stays fresh is to regularly rotate the supply, replacing it as you go along.

FEMA recommends replacing non-commercially bottled water every six months.

It’s also important to keep at least three days of non-perishable foods on hand…

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