Preparedness

Preparing for the Worst: Experts Recommend What to Pack in Your Emergency Kit

Have non-perishable canned or dehydrated food on hand. And don't forget you'll have to be able to cook it, or at least boil water, so it would be a good idea to have a camp stove or grill handy, plus fuel.

by Dylan Darling, The Register-Guard, Eugene, Ore. / December 5, 2018

(TNS) - Fire, ice or shaking earth all might create an emergency that leaves you without power and other necessities of modern life.

Just think back to December 2016. An ice storm for the ages coated tree limbs around Eugene-Springfield, sending branches or whole trees crashing into power lines.

In all, more than 22,000 homes supplied with electricity by the Eugene Water & Electric Board were left dark.

"It took 10 days to get every single customer back on," said EWEB spokesman Joe Harwood. "It was a devastating storm."

Now's the time to prepare for the next storm or other calamity by packing an emergency kit.

What should go into a kit varies by household, but experts contacted by The Register-Guard suggested ideas of where to start.

"I think about what I can't live without," Harwood said, "and that is water and food and shelter and warmth and somewhere to sleep — and batteries."

Kevin Holman, the city of Eugene emergency manager, considered worst-case scenarios when he packed his own emergency kit: What would he want to have if a massive earthquake not only knocked out power, but also left him traveling by foot and making meals with no grocery stores open.

"I think the right way to look at this is to look at your immediate needs first," he said. "So start with your basic needs." He recommends loading a sturdy backpack with emergency items, to make the kit easier to move.

In packing her own emergency kit, city of Eugene spokeswoman Caitlin Estes started with what she takes backpacking. She emphasized the important of clothes for when it's cold or wet.

"You have to think of all weather scenarios," she said. "It's not guaranteed to be a beautiful spring day in Oregon when (an emergency) happens."

Also, don't forget about your pets' needs, said Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt. The utility provides power to Junction City, Cottage Grove and Creswell.

"The cats are not going to give up eating just because your lights are out," he said.

According to the experts, these are the essentials when planning for the next emergency:

Water

You'll want more than you might think. To be ready for a major earthquake, experts recommend a full two-weeks supply — 14 gallons per person. Also recommended: tools to filter and purify water.

Food

Have non-perishable canned or dehydrated food on hand. And don't forget you'll have to be able to cook it, or at least boil water, so it would be a good idea to have a camp stove or grill handy, plus fuel.

Blankets

Spare blankets and sleeping bags become invaluable during a winter power outage in any home heated only by electricity.

Radio and a clock

Stay linked to news reports and keep track of time.

Flashlight

Smartphones have flashlight apps, but you'll want to save your phone for calls, texts and checking outage updates. A headlamp makes it so you hands will be free while lighting your way around a darkened home.

Batteries

Keep extras available for a radio and any other item you can't live without, such as that flashlight. Consider buying a hand-crank radio.

Cell phone support

Speaking of items people can't live without: A battery pack keeps your cell phone going, and a car charger allows you to juice up your smartphone even when the power is out.

Follow Dylan Darling on Twitter @DylanJDarling. Email dd@registerguard.com.

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