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Emergency Preparedness: severe weather

Emergency supplies vary based on individual preference. Everyone is encouraged to do research and find what works for their personal needs. Emergency supplies can consist of three days’ supply of food and water, flashlights, extra batteries, water purification tablets, glow sticks and an AM-FM radio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

Emergency supplies vary based on individual preference. Everyone is encouraged to do research and find what works for their personal needs. Emergency supplies can consist of three days’ supply of food and water, flashlights, extra batteries, water purification tablets, glow sticks and an AM-FM radio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sean Campbell)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles devoted to informing Airmen and their families about how to be prepared to survive in a variety of emergency situations. The tips and advice contained in these articles are recommendations only. Dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency and always seek professional emergency response as necessary.

Now that winter is here, Airmen and their families should be aware of how to prepare for severe weather.

"Prioritize your needs," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Mazure, 22nd Training Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist. "Have weather alert notifications on your phone so you get the alerts ahead of time."

People are encouraged to have at least three days' worth of water and food set aside for emergencies.

"Stock canned food and items that don't need to be refrigerated," said Mazure. "For my family, I have between six and 10 gallons of water in emergency supply if something were to happen."

According to Mazure, his wife hung glow sticks throughout their house during a recent power outage. This practice helps avoid trips and falls if an outage were to occur.

"If the lights go out it, the breaker may need to be switched," said Mazure. "So it's good to know where your breaker box is."

Mazure suggested having multiple flashlights, headlamps, battery operated AM-FM radio and extra fresh batteries.

"Storms have been known to interrupt and knock out cell phone signals," he said. "If that happens the radio is your option to stay informed."

If a power outage occurs, there are multiple ways to stay warm.

"If you're indoors with no power and you need to stay warm, don't use an open flame unless it's in a fireplace," said Mazure. "Wear layers of clothing if you're hanging around the house; another option is using a catalytic heater to stay warm."

Severe wind storms have been known to down trees, telephone poles and throw other debris around. People are also encouraged to avoid exterior windows.

Mazure recommends having a first aid kit and to know what's in the kit and how to use it, and for people to tailor it if they have allergies or other unique needs.

Overall, a power outage results in no electronic devices, unless one owns a generator. Mazure suggests staying busy while waiting out the outage.

"Have something to do," he said. "Find a way to keep your mind engaged, play a board game for instance."

Here is a list of suggested items to have during an emergency:
· 3 days' worth of food and water
· AM-FM Radio
· First aid kit
· Extra Batteries
· Whistle
· Moist towelettes, garbage bags,
· Prescription medications and glasses
· Cash, travelers checks and change

Emergency supplies vary based on individual preference, and everyone is encouraged to do research and find what works for their personal needs. Many other helpful tips and suggested disaster preparedness kits can be found here: http://www.ready.gov/