Life Times Newsletter

Fall 2008
Vol. 10, No. 4


Your family disaster plan can keep you snug and safe!


Teresa L. Mareschal, MAT

Human Development Specialist


If you knew a disaster was coming, wouldn’t you make preparations to protect yourself and your family?

Many potential disasters could impact your family. A hazardous material accident could force your family to evacuate your home. A winter storm, earthquake or tornado could cut off basic services, such as gas, water, electricity or phone service.


Creating a family disaster plan

The first step is to update your family’s disaster plan. You should pack six basic types of supplies in a special container (such as a large trash container, backpack or duffle bag) in case of a natural or man-made disaster. These supplies include:

} Water (store one gallon per person per day) 

} Ready-to-eat food (canned food, canned juices, high-energy foods,
vitamins, comfort foods, special foods for infants or family members on a special diet)

} First aid supplies (bandages,
antiseptic, soap, latex gloves, non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, antacid, anti-diarrhea medication, etc.)

} Clothing and bedding (include sturdy shoes, rain gear, blankets, hats, gloves, thermal underwear,

} Tools and emergency supplies (battery-operated radio, flashlights, fire extinguisher, pliers, shut-off wrench, matches in waterproof container, liquid soap, toilet paper,
feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, household chlorine bleach)

} Special items (for an infant, medication for family members, books and games for entertainment, important family documents).

Preparing for a winter storm

Although you may not know when the first ice storm is coming, you can take steps now to keep your family safe.

A key rule is to listen to the latest weather reports on local radio and television. To prepare for a severe storm or
blizzard, you should have the items listed above readily on hand at home. Be sure to check for an adequate supply of heating fuel. Be aware of fire hazards posed by prolonged use of stoves, fireplaces and space heaters.

The safest place to be during a winter storm or cold snap is indoors. Dress properly before venturing outdoors. Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded.  Avoid overexertion when outdoors, including when snow shoveling. Be aware that cold weather itself, without any physical exertion, puts an extra strain on the heart.

Safety checking your vehicle

} Before severe storms and cold arrive, winterize all vehicles. Pay
special attention to engine, fuel, ignition and exhaust systems.

} Make sure tires and brakes are in good condition and that the heater, windshield wipers and lights work properly. Check the antifreeze level.

} Equip each vehicle with an emergency winter storm kit that includes non-perishable foods, extra clothes, blankets, flashlight, fresh batteries, shovel, booster cables, flares and bags of sand.  

Winter driving safety tips

} Always keep the gas tank filled.

} If you become stranded in your vehicle, stay in your vehicle. Never try to walk to safety.

} Conserve fuel and heat by running the heater and engine sparingly.

} To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, open a car window slightly. Periodically clear snow away from the exhaust pipe.

By following these safety measures and staying prepared during cold weather and storms, you can avoid the fatal effects of winter during the next few months.

For a more detailed checklist, contact your local Red Cross office, or visit MU Extension’s Web site,


 Adapted in part from a disaster preparedness handout created by
Beverly Maltsberger, Community Development Specialist, University of Missouri Extension.





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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller