Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hurricanes-Need to Prepare Now

June 1 marks the start of hurricane season. Now is the time to start preparing. It can take awhile to gather all the things needed whether you stay or evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center has a nice booklet that explains what a hurricane is.

Ready.gov has a list of items everyone should consider keeping in an emergency kit.

Recommended Items To Include In A Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional Items To Consider Adding To An Emergency Supply Kit:(My note: The following items are essential for preparing for a hurricane)

Prescription medications and glasses

Infant formula and diapers

Pet food and extra water for your pet

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

Cash or traveler's checks and change

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.(My note: If you live in an area close to beaches, rivers, etc take photo albums if evacuating and protect them in waterproof materials if staying)

Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.

Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Fire Extinguisher

Matches in a waterproof container

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels

Paper and pencil

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Some additional recommendations by me:

Have a phone that can be plugged in directly to the phone jack. When the power is out, you can still get a dial tone as long as the phone lines haven't had too much damage.

Save bags from the grocery store. These can be very useful in many different ways.

If you are not evacuating, have a propane table top grill. This will be useful for boiling water and having warm meals. A charcoal grill is good as well but if your power is out for more than three days, you will have to have a lot of charcoal on hand.

Instead of a three day supply of food and water, I would recommend at the very minimum a week's supply. After Hurricane Katrina, many stores were not able to reopen. If roads and bridges are out, it could take longer than three days for state and federal emergency management to get to you.

Make sure to fill your gas tank up. I usually fill mine up when any tropical system hits the Gulf of Mexico.

The most important thing is to rely on what local officials tell you. If you live in an area that is ordered to evacuate, do so. Don't rely on bench marks from prior hurricanes. Many people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought they were safe when Hurricane Katrina hit because they lived in areas that didn't flood during Hurricane Camille's storm surge.

Each tropical system is different and unique. Even depressions can cause major problems if there's a great amount of rain. You need to prepare for a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane like you would if a major hurricane was making landfall.

Also, if you are under a tropical storm watch or warning, pick-up loose items outside. When squall lines come through, those items can become airborne and can damage your home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seeking Justice or Relearning How to Share

One of the very first lessons earned as a child is that it is important to share even if we didn’t like the other child very much. It was our very first lesson in seeking justice. A squabble over a child’s toy doesn’t seem like it would be such a lesson. Think about it. To me, this lesson seems to teach many things other than giving over a toy for a short time.

In thinking about the many squabbles with my brothers and sisters and other kids over toys, I think sharing toys taught me that not everyone has what I have. Compared to other families, mine was just above the poverty line and so we didn’t have what some others had. We were fortunate to have food, water, shelter, medical care, and transportation. Some kids weren’t as lucky and I used to wonder what I could do to help.

When I was a child, I was glad we had programs in place to help those in need. As an adult, I’m glad my taxes help out programs such as WIC, Medicaid, Pell Grants, etc.

Sometimes I think the United States is becoming a country in which being poor is a crime.

The Torah’s depiction of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a cautionary tale of how not to treat the poor and needy. The prophet Ezekiel proclaims: “Behold the sin of Sodom….She and her daughters had pride, excess bread, and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.” Avot 5:10 in the Mishna describes as someone who has the attitude of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours” as a Sodomite.

Right now in Congress, Republicans are trying to pass legislation that strips many of the safety programs in place. These same Republicans want to do away with Social Security, the Department of Education, and the EPA. They want to do this on the backs of the poor and the middle class while increasing the wealth of the richest people in the country.

I believe in the essential decency of Americans. I know that most would willingly help their neighbors, friends and family in hard times. There are so many who fall through the cracks. My question is our we going to be a nation that “strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” or will be one that declares “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is your”?