Tropics quiet, but hurricane season far from over

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 6, 2006

Things have been unusually quite in the Atlantic and Caribbean since Tropical Storm Alberto formed in early June.

That doesn't mean it will stay that way, because the 2006 Hurricane season is still in its infancy. And November is a long way off.

American Red Cross officials say now, not two or three days before the storm hits, is the time to stock up on needed supplies in preparation for a disaster situation.

The Red Cross's website offers a number of educational materials that Internet browsers can download and use as a checklist to build your own family disaster supply kit. And the planned checklist takes into account any disaster, not just hurricanes:

&#8220Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have time to respond. A highway spill of hazardous material could mean instant evacuation. A winter storm could confine your family at home. An earthquake, flood, tornado or any other disaster could cut off basic services - gas, water, electricity and telephones - for days.”

In today's world, complacency towards nature's wrath is an undesirable trait.

The destruction visited upon Butler County by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 is fast becoming a memory. Although Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina brushed the county last year, it's easier to hope a hurricane doesn't veer its violent winds this way than prepare for one.

&#8220Your family will cope best by preparing for disaster before it strikes,” says the Red Cross. &#8220Once disaster hits, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies.”

Because as evidenced by Katrina in 2005, in the event of major destruction it could be at least three or four days before state and federal agencies can come to your aid.

According to the Red Cross, there are six basics you should stock in your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container.

Water: Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people need more.

Food: Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select foods that are compact and lightweight.

First Aid kit: Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for your car. A first aid kit should include a variety of adhesive bandages, as well as antiseptic, sunscreen, and non-prescription drug items, like aspirin. You can contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual.

Tools and supplies: Tools and supplies should include items like flashlights, spare batteries, matches, utility knives, paper cups and plates, as well as sanitation items like toilet paper, feminine supplies, and soap.

Clothing and bedding: Rain gear, blankets and sleeping bags and sturdy shoes.

Special items: Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons. For babies, formula, diapers, bottles and powdered milk are standard. For the elderly, heart and high blood pressure medicine, insulin and any prescription drugs. Also, important family documents - like wills, insurance policies and banking numbers – should be stored in a waterproof container.

More information about disaster supply kits can be found at

Much of this information came from &#8220Preparing for Disaster.” Developed by the American Red Cross and the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.