Being prepared is just common sense

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Be prepared. The Boy Scout model is good advice.

No, you don’t have to be a full-blown “prepper,” stocking up on thousands of dollars worth of freeze-dried food, ammunition and toilet paper, but if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

No one knows when a tornado may descend from the sky, a blizzard roll in from the northwest, or a prairie fire approach your home.

Perhaps an ice storm will take out power for weeks at a time? We’ve seen that happen — or a flood? We’ve run countless stories about the tragedies resulting from the 1935 Republican River flood.

And who knows what other type of disaster could befall us in the future.

Long preoccupied with pandemic-related efforts, the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department is slowly returning to “normal” activities, including reminding residents that this month is National Preparedness Month.

“Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love,” said Kay Schmidt, Emergency Response Coordinator for SWNPHD. “Set aside a few minutes each month to check for items that you might need to add or replace. Re-think your items and family needs, especially if new medications are needed or if children have grown.”

Such efforts should include the whole family, creating a plan for sheltering in place for emergencies that don’t require evacuation, as well as routes to be take should we be forced to leave, where to go and who to call.

Items for family disaster preparedness kits may include:

Food and Water for 3 days (or more). Rotate food every six months.

Personal supplies like clothing, blankets, gloves, and boots, along with hygiene items.

First Aid kit with scissors

Important Documents: (Keep in a waterproof container)

Contact list

Written instructions for how to turn off electricity, gas and water in case authorities advise you to do so

Home inventory list with photos and videos

Supplies for family members with unique needs such as infants, seniors, and pets, including any special foods and medications.

Misc. Supplies





Duct Tape


Extra set of car and house keys


Hand crank or battery-operated radio

Area maps

Matches in a waterproof container

Notebooks and pens

Permanent markers

Plastic sheeting


Small toolbox

Shut-off wrench to turn off house-hold gas and water

Utility knives


Cell phone charger, or solar charger

Other helpful preparedness tips to remember:

• Place loose items in airtight plastic bags and keep these items in large easy-to-carry, waterproof containers like a trash bin or plastic tub.

• Label each container with your name and address.

• Have last-minute items ready to add when a warning or evacuation order is issued.

• Store the kit in a safe place near the main exit.

More information on how to prepare for the types of disasters you are most likely to encounter in your area can be found at Ready.gov. You can also get informed by downloading the FEMA app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips.

Southwest Nebraska Public Health serves Chase, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, Hitchcock, Keith, Perkins, and Red Willow counties. Visit swhealth.ne.gov for information on preparedness. You can also follow SWNPHD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. SWNPHD is located at 404 West 10th St (1 block north of Arby’s) in McCook and can be reached by calling 308-345-4223.

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