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Disaster preparedness: it costs little but saves a lot

FEMA and GEMA advise that families should take responsibility for their own welfare by packing emergency kits and making disaster plans
FEMA and GEMA advise citizens to create emergency kits
Agencies advise families to create plans, prepare emergency kits

Just as every home should have a smoke alarm, every home should have an emergency supply kit packed and ready. And being prepared doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

While emergency preparedness is ongoing at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it's also an individual responsibility.

"You should be prepared to take care of yourself and members of your family for the first 72 hours - that's three days - following a disaster such as a hurricane or the September flooding across Georgia," said GEMA Director Charley English. "A big part of disaster preparation is knowledge and the state has developed a comprehensive disaster preparedness guide that is available online."

The GEMA website includes an emergency kit checklist, interactive games for children and information for businesses on how to prepare for a disaster. The GEMA site includes a Google Translate link that will translate web pages into other languages.

"Emergency preparedness is a matter of priorities," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Gracia Szczech. "A family first aid kit typically costs less than dinner for two at a restaurant. It's worth cooking at home one night to keep your family safe."

An emergency preparedness kit needs to include food and water for each member of the family for three days, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight, spare batteries, first aid kit, non-electric can opener, local maps, moist towelettes, toilet paper, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

Other items to consider include sleeping bags or blankets, paper towels, books, puzzles and games for children and pet food for family pets. It's helpful to have cash in case banks are closed and ATMs are not operating. The emergency supplies can be stored in an easy-to-carry plastic storage container or duffel bag, making them easy to grab and go when an emergency forces people to leave their home.

Putting together an emergency kit isn't expensive. Many of the items usually can be found in the home.

More information on emergency preparedness, including how to put together a family communication plan, can be found at FEMA's emergency preparedness website.

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