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Take steps to prepare your family before the next natural disaster or emergency strikes. (StatePoint)

Prepare an emergency kit

(StatePoint) The devastation of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires, has left an indelible mark and also served as a reminder of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected. Worldwide, 281 natural disasters impacted more than 60 million people in 2018, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.

As unexpected occurrences continue around the globe, it is important to plan how to keep your family healthy and safe in the event an emergency or natural disaster strikes close to home.

Now is the perfect time to make simple preparations to ensure your family has essentials on hand for an emergency. While many comprehensive resources exist to help you build an emergency kit, the first step is to start with the basics: water, food, light, communications and first aid. 

An emergency preparation element often taken for granted is access to safe and potable drinking water. From earthquakes and hurricanes to floods and wildfires, natural disasters can contaminate and disrupt water supplies and systems.

“During disasters, water systems are often compromised, and it may take days or even weeks for proper testing to be done and for systems to be restored,” said Alison Hill, managing director of LifeStraw, a manufacturer of water filtration systems that has been on the ground in India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Mozambique, here in the U.S., and most recently the Bahamas, offering support to those affected by devastating natural disasters.

While most emergency preparation checklists include clean water, it can be difficult to plan for more than a few days’ supply. Emergency preparation tips suggest keeping a few gallons on hand (about a three-day supply). For longer-term protection and to eliminate the bulk and weight of carrying large quantities of water during an evacuation scenario, a personal filtration device stored within your at-home emergency kit or go bag provides greater flexibility and longer-term protection.

Options from LifeStraw are a good choice, as they remove bacteria (99.9999 percent) and parasites (99.99
percent) that can contaminate water when systems break down. Because of their ability to filter out these contaminants like E. Coli, salmonella, giardia, cryptosporidium and otherwaterborne bacteria and parasites, LifeStraw products make it possible to drink from any nearby river or body of water. The original LifeStraw is durable, weighs only 2-ounces, is easy to store and lasts for up to 1,000 gallons of water. It’s easy to keep a few in an emergency kit or even the glove compartment of your car. LifeStraw also offers other models, such as the LifeStraw Flex with Gravity Bag, LifeStraw Mission, and LifeStraw Community, which are ideal for families and groups.

To build your emergency kit, visit ready.gov/build-a-kit and fema.gov.