Prepare your disaster kit now, save precious time later

WMBF Storm Team (WMBF) It's one of those things most people don't even think about until it's too late.  If we were hit by a hurricane, or any natural disaster for that matter, would you be prepared at all? Now is the time to start making a disaster kit, that way you can grab it as you're heading out the door.  Karen Anderson, the Columbia Region Disaster Director for the Red Cross, shares her tips.

Anderson recommends at least starting with some sort of kit that includes items like duct tape, an emergency blanket and a radio and flashlight with extra batteries.  In addition, you should have enough food and water to last each person in your family at least three days.

There are also some very important items that often go overlooked that need to be added to your kit.

"Some of the things you need to have is cash.  If you think about it, you know there's not going to be electricity, ATMs aren't going to work, gas pumps aren't going to work.  You've got to be able to access cash to pay for some of those things," explains Anderson.

Other important items that should also be in your kit are your bank account numbers, social security cards, marriage and birth certificates, medicine, sturdy shoes, the contact information of your insurance agent and a whistle.

"A whistle is extremely important.  I have whistles everywhere, all over my keychains, everything.  If you cannot scream, if you lose your voice, you still usually have enough air to blow a whistle and the international call for help is three short blows on a whistle and if you do that somebody will at least check and see what's wrong," Anderson suggests.

You can make your own disaster kit and just keep adding to it, or you can get a basic kit from the Red Cross for as little as $20.  There are also kits that include more items and can last you three days and those range from $40 to $80.  Visit the Red Cross Store to find which kit best suites your family's needs.

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