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Emergency Training Experience is Essential for Preparation

Business Week cover story, Sept.19th, 2005: Th...
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Emergency Training Experience is Essential for Preparation

For decades, LDS prophets have have preached preparedness.

Disaster happens, they’ve said. Get ready.

But, not many people are ready for a catastrophe, whether the earthquakes, floods and fires caused by nature, or the hazardous chemical spills, shrinking economy and layoffs caused by man, said Maralin Hoff, community outreach specialist for Utah’s Division of Homeland Security.

“Preparedness should be a part of life,” she said.

Rachel Pearson, 29, is passionate about preparedness.  The Layton resident, who coordinates emergency efforts in her job as loss prevention specialist for Wal-Mart in Syracuse, credits that passion to Hurricane Katrina.

“We had displaced people from New Orleans here and I saw how not being prepared impacted their lives,” Pearson said.

Pearson learned basic preparedness while growing up in a Latter-day Saint home.

“We canned fruits and vegetables every summer,” she said.

Even as a child, Pearson liked the security of knowing that her family would always have something to eat.

Now single at 29, Pearson is adamant about being self sufficient.  She has a well-organized supply of food and water stored in her home.  She keeps a smaller cache in her Jeep Liberty, along with road salt, a shovel and blankets.   Especially important are a sturdy pair of shoes that can weather snow and muddy grit if she has to get out of her car while traveling.

She has a plan of exactly what to do, and in what order, if disaster strikes.    First, secure her home.  Second, help others.

“I can’t respond to anyone else until I am mentally and physically prepared to leave my home and know everything is OK,” she said.

Lisa Pack Hyer came home from a church meeting a few years ago full of preparedness conviction.  At the meeting, her stake president had asked members of his stake to store a year’s supply of food.  It was time to finally do it.

Both Hyer and her husband were working in those days before Hyer gave birth to their son, so amassing the emergency preparedness items wasn’t a financial hardship.

“We did it within three months,” she said.

Preparation is easy when the goal is broken down into manageable steps, Hyer said.

“We work for a few months on things for our car, or our 72-hour kits,” she said.  “Then, once we have it, it’s easy to maintain and update.”

All three Hyers have a 72-hour kit full of food, clothing and toiletries.  Total weight?  About 25 pounds.

In addition to kits, Hoff recommends loading a bucket with food such as granola bars, trail mix and canned fruit.   Also, prepare a 5-gallon jug of water to take along.

“You don’t know how long you’ll be away from home,” she said.

Other 72-hour kit essentials include a flashlight or light stick, whistle, poncho, sewing kit, and a fabric or mylar blanket.

Be sure to include hygiene supplies such as soap, shampoo, razor, tampons and feminine pads.

Bring along a portable toilet.   Hoff recommends making your own loo with a five-gallon bucket, a plastic bag and some kitty litter.

“The litter absorbs droppings and keeps it from smelling,” she said.  After use, the plastic-bag lining the bucket can be thrown away.

Medications are also important kit components, from pain relievers to daily doses of hormone-replacement pills, to life-sustaining heart medications.

Include copies of insurance policies, bank account records, identification, cash and maps.

For adults, a game or book will help fill empty hours at an emergency shelter. A toy or two will help keep children occupied.

When it comes to a disaster, pets are people, too, Hoff said.

“If you’re told to leave your home, take your house pet with you,” she said.

She recommends assembling a 72-hour kit for pooch or kitty, packed with food, water, treats, toys and an extra leash.

Peace of mind when facing a possible disaster comes only from being prepared, Hoff said.

“We need to take action,” she said. “There are so many things we can do to get ready before disaster strikes.”

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