No time like the present

Published 9:57 am Thursday, March 8, 2012

WINDSOR – Albemarle Regional Health Services and the American Public Health Association are encouraging citizens to check their emergency preparedness this weekend.

“With Daylight Saving Time beginning this weekend, it is a perfect time to check smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and your disaster supply kit,” said Ashley Stoop, who serves as Preparedness Coordinator and Safety Officer with ARHS.

Daylight Saving Time is slated to begin at 2 a.m. Sunday . That annual occurrence is used by many to coincide with a time to take stock of emergency supplies.

“Be sure that you have at least a three-day supply of bottled water, non-perishable foods and essential medications set aside for each member of your family,” Stoop said. “Remember to include special supplies for children and pets.”

The APHA reminds everyone that emergencies can happen unexpectedly. Those include tornadoes, floods, storms, earthquakes and even disease outbreak. The disasters could result in the loss of electricity, refrigeration, clean tap water or phone service for days or weeks.

In some cases, including disease outbreak, citizens may be asked to stay at home to keep safe. That is why having an emergency preparedness stockpile is important.

The American Public Health Association encourages every American citizen to have a stockpile stored in their homes.

Food should not be anything that requires refrigeration and should not be high in salt.

In addition to the food and water, families should have a flashlight, a manual can opener, batteries and copies of important documents.

Depending on each family’s dynamics, there may also be a need for medical supplies, pet food, contact lens solution or diapers.

The group said if a family cannot afford to buy the stockpile all at once, it is suggested that items be picked up two or three at a time during visits to the grocery store. Canned vegetables and batteries can be bought when there is a sale.

They also suggest putting the stockpile in a place that it won’t be tempting to “borrow” from it when batteries die or a can of vegetables is needed.

The stockpile should be kept in a place it can be reached in an emergency. A cool, dark place is ideal. It should not be kept close to solvents, cleaners or other items that have fumes that could leak.

It is better to keep the supplies in a plastic bin or box that can be kept tightly closed to protect it from humidity or pests. It also makes it easier in case the family has to evacuate quickly.

While checking the stockpile it is also important to make sure it is rotated and refreshed. Twice a year is the recommended time, including now at the beginning of Daylight Saving Time.

It is also important to check dates on the stockpile items, including the bottled water.

“Our citizens are extremely resilient and, through teamwork and community support, have overcome great obstacles in the past year,” said Bertie Interim Emergency Management Coordinator Misty Deanes. “We have recently seen devastating storms throughout the United States.  I strongly encourage all citizens to create a family disaster plan or to update their current plan.  Preparedness is key.”