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Make Living Through a Disaster Easier: Take Steps That Start in Your Own Home

It's been nearly 2 weeks since the World Trade Center attacks and there are still customers in lower Manhattan without electricity this morning. While there is no real way to prepare for such a tragedy, there are steps you can take to make living through a disaster easier. Here with some advice is Frank Donaghue from the Philadelphia Red Cross.

You urge all families to put together a disaster supply kit.

That's right. Immediately after a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene; however, they can't reach everyone immediately. Help can take hours, even days, so the more you prepare, the easier your life will be during a disaster.

All right, let’s go through some of the 'must haves' for your supply kit:

  • Water and canned and packaged food.
  • Blankets and clothes.
  • Tool kit (screwdriver, hammer, wrench, pliers, box cutter, tape measure).
  • First aid kit.
  • Personal documents wrapped in plastic.
  • Shovel.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Can opener.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Flashlight and batteries.
  • Medications.
  • Radio.

We don’t want to alarm anybody, but is there anyway to protect against biological or chemical weapons attack?

There really is nothing you can do. The American Red Cross suggests you listen to radio reports, where you will be told exactly what to do.

Finally, let’s go through several steps you suggest everyone take to prepare for a disaster:

Post emergency phone numbers?

You should include police and fire department numbers as well as those of a relative or friend who lives nearby.

Learning to turn off the gas and water?

This is something that many people don't think about, but it is very important that all responsible family members know how to turn off the gas and water. As we all know, a gas leak can make a disaster much worse.

How about learning CPR?

Contact your local Red Cross chapter and find out where a CPR class is being taught near you.

What about choosing a safe spot?

If you have to evacuate your home, pick a place such as a church, where you and your family can meet up. Also, once everyone gets to the safe spot, call a nearby friend or relative and let them know where you are. Call someone outside the area so they can keep abreast of where everyone is.
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