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Courtney Davis: Are you prepared for a disaster?

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Courtney Davis

My heart is breaking for my friends, family, colleagues and the thousands of other people in South Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It is hard to imagine what they are going through, but it brings to light the importance of being prepared and planning ahead for such situations. Now is a great time to make that plan as September is National Preparedness Month.

National Disaster Preparedness Month reminds Americans to prepare for disaster in their homes, businesses and schools. It is an excellent time to ask yourself if you are ready or will you be ready if a disaster strikes your area. Preparing for the unexpected means that you are informed and prepared.

Being informed means you hear about what could happen and how to respond to it. Disasters can be natural hazards, accidents, terrorism, drought, fire, floods, hurricanes, ice storms, tornados or less common disease epidemics. Accidental hazards could include explosions or hazardous materials incidents. Terrorism attacks could take the form of assassinations, bombings or kidnapping.

What can you do to be prepared? You can make a family plan and create a disaster supply kit. The family plan would include escape routes from your home and neighborhood. Family communication is a must. What will you do to contact each other if you were separated when disaster occurs?

Creating a disaster supply kit is important. If you must leave or evacuate your home, you should have enough supplies to last for three days — including water, allowing a gallon of water per person per day per plan. Choose food that requires no preparation or refrigeration such as protein bars, nuts, peanut butter, crackers and canned meat and juice. You will also want to pack disposable paper supplies, flatware and a can opener.

It is a good idea to have a change of clothing. You should have a first-aid kit, emergency items such as a battery-operated radio, flashlight, whistle, extra batteries, hand sanitizer and bug spray.

You don't want to forget those special-needs items such as your medications or dentures.

Also you should have copies of important papers such as a list of medications, insurance policies, driver's license or other form of identification, bank account and credit card information, your household inventory and cash or traveler's checks.

Being prepared for the unexpected helps to alleviate some of the stress that you face.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has a full list of items to include in your Disaster Supply Kit as well as forms and tips and suggestions to help you plan ahead. Also available is information on what to do after the disaster strikes with information pertaining to the home, your property, livestock and other animals and your food supply. All of these resources can be found at

COURTNEY DAVIS is the family and consumer sciences county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2882 or via email at