Despite the historical frequency of tsunami and hurricane warnings, the state Department of Emergency Management found that a majority of Hawaii residents are underprepared for the possibility of a disaster.
"It showed that about 30 percent of the people that we surveyed had some type of disaster supplies and were aware of what they needed to do," says Department of Emergency Management public information officer John Cummings. "The other 70 percent were expecting the government — the county and the federal — to come to their assistance. Our residents really need to understand that they have to be responsible for their own needs in taking care of their family until that disaster relief effort can reach them.
One important — and simple — component in preparing for a disaster is to create a survival kit filled with essential materials. The ideal kit is suitable for a number of disaster situations. In some cases, you may have to evacuate to a nearby shelter. In others, sheltering in place could be the safest option.
The Department of Emergency Management recommends that people be prepared to take care of themselves and their families for 5 to 7 days after a disaster.
For any type of situation, here are some suggested items that that you should include in your survival kit:
The Department of Emergency Management recommends that you pack enough water to last for 5 to 7 days. It also suggests a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day.
Easily accessible water storage containers are also prudent to have on hand in the event you need to evacuate to a shelter. The options range from water jugs and bottles, such as the popular Rubbermaid ones, to the Brita and Rubbermaid containers with built-in filters.
The Department of Emergency Management recommends that you pack 5 to 7 days worth of non-perishable food. Canned foods are a good option due to their long shelf lives.
Longtime Hawaii staples such as Campbells Pork & Beans, Condensed Soup or Pasta Meals are convenient to keep on hand. Fortified drinks such as the Campbell’s V8 100% juices are an excellent source of vegetable nutrition.
Portable battery operated or hand-crank radio
A radio, along with spare batteries and a flashlight, is a high priority item that Cummings says you should have on hand at all times — at home, at work and in your car.
"The only way you are going to get information from the Department of Emergency Management or from Civil Defense is via the radio. That is our primary means of talking to our residents any time we have an emergency."
If a disaster occurs at night, a Duracell or Garrity Self-Powered crank flashlight can help you to navigate your way in the dark.
A flashlight and a radio are among the essential items, but they won’t work without batteries to keep them going! Be sure to pack extra Duracell CopperTop and Ultra Power batteries.
Storage containers for food
While canned food is ideal in a disaster situation, it does make storage for leftovers a little difficult.
Consider including Ziploc bags and containers to store any leftover food in order to preserve limited supplies.
A non-electric can opener such as this one by Ecko, is preferable.
First aid kit
A typical first aid kit is comprised of bandages, sterile gauze pads, aspirin, antiseptic wipe packets, antibiotic ointment packets, absorbent compress dressings and more. The Department of EmergencyManagement also recommends that you consider taking a first aid course.
Special medication and equipment
If you or any of your family members take special medication, you should consider enclosing several days worth in your survival kit.
For individuals who use assistive devices, such as electric wheelchairs or scooters, it is a good idea to include extra batteries for these.
You also may want to include an extra pair of prescription glasses.
Hygenic supplies/paper goods
FEMA recommends moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation purposes. And for families with babies, don’t forget a supply of diapers.
A small supply of paper goods can make an unfortunate situation a little more bearable. Reynolds aluminum foil is another versatile product which can help in a pinch.
If you need to purchase anything following a disaster, cash is going to be the most reliable way to do so.
"Look at the normal amount of cash that you would spend in about 3 to 4 days, and keep that on the side," Cummings says.
It is a good idea to keep important documents readily available — and stored in a waterproof container. FEMA recommends that you include insurance policies, personal identification and bank account records. You also should compile a list of emergency contact information.
Inflatable mattress or folding cot
Evacuation shelters provide a safe place for residents to gather but do not always have individual sleeping equipment. You might also want to pack a sleeping bag or blankets.
Items for keiki
Consider including books, games, puzzles or other activities to help keep kids occupied and entertained.
Change of clothes
If you have to evacuate quickly, you may leave the house with only the clothes you are wearing. Put some extra clothes in your survival kit.
OFF! insect repellent will help keep you more comfortable if your evacuation situation includes any time outdoors.
If you have pets, don’t forget to pack a few basic supplies for your furry family members, including pet food, a leash, any necessary medication and identification.
Candles and lighters
Keeping candles and BIC lighters on hand can help ensure that you will be able to find your way around in the case of a power outage. BIC Utility Lighters are great for lighting charcoal or gas grills and candles. An innovative new product from BIC- the FlameDisk- is a portable heat source. Fits in most charcoal grills for emergency cooking situations.
Cooler and Blue Ice
Once you have collected all of these supplies, you will need a place to store everything. Rubbermaid has a collection of wheeled coolers that will allow for proper storage while also providing easy transportation during an evacuation situation. Rolling duffle bags are also a secure, convenient option.
For more information on disaster preparedness kits and planning information, visit www. redcross.org or scd.hawaii.gov/dp_kit.html.