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 Stockpiling a disaster supply kit

When a hurricane strikes, it may not leave your family much time to respond. Along with the high winds, flooding and tornadoes spawned by the hurricane, there is a chance it could cut water, electricity and telephone services for days.

After a disaster, local emergency officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they will not be able to reach everyone immediately. It could take hours or even days before help can get to your community. Preparing a disaster supply kit will help your family better cope with the situation.

Once a hurricane bears down on Central Florida, you may not have enough time to shop or search for supplies. By gathering the needed supplies in advance, your family can be better prepared for an evacuation or extended home confinement.

There are really four categories of supplies in every disaster kit — water, food, toiletries and other items. Water is its own category because it so vital to have clean water. Water also takes up the most room. It is recommended that in each disaster supply kit there should be at least one gallon daily per person for five days.

A disaster supply kit also needs to contain enough non-perishable food for the household for at least five days. Non-perishable food includes packaged or canned food and juices; special foods for infants or elderly; and snack foods. To cook and serve the food it is recommended that a disaster supply kit also contain a non-electric can opener; cooking tools and fuel; paper plates; and plastic utensils.

Toiletries that should be included in a disaster supply kit include: toothpaste and brush; deodorant and soap; shaving equipment; personal hygiene supplies; shampoo; wash cloth and towel; and toilet paper. The most important item in the toiletries category is medications.

During a disaster, families need to prepare for the long haul. It is recommended at least a month's supply of prescribed medicines be on hand, as well as a typical first-aid kit with Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, headache medicine and antacids.

Blankets and pillows are also good items to include in case the family has to evacuate to a hurricane shelter. While the shelters have some cots, the blanket and pillows will make life much more comfortable.

The final category in the disaster supply kit is other items. These items include: a battery-powered NOAA weather radio and flashlight, extra batteries, portable mobile/smartphone charger and charging cords, a waterproof bag containing important documents, such as insurance, bank account and Social Security cards; and a list of important phone numbers including your local pharmacy, doctors, and designated contacts you can call in case of an emergency.

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