Are You a Grasshopper or an Ant

October 14, 2014

Are You a Grasshopper or an Ant?

In Aesop’s famous fable, “The Grasshopper and The Ant,” the ant was busy gathering food for the winter, while the grasshopper played all day long. When winter came, the ant was well supplied, while the grasshopper was starving. The lesson of the fable is: Be Prepared for the Future. Some of us are ants, always preparing for future events, while others are grasshoppers, chirping and singing through life. There is probably a happy medium between the two lifestyles for overall daily living. But unfortunately, most people are more like the grasshopper when it comes to preparing for an unexpected event, such as a storm or other emergency attack. If you have been affected by the storms we have had in Connecticut over the last few years, you are probably more aware of the need to be prepared. It is just practical to be like the ant, and make some preparations.

MAKING PREPARTIONS

It is prudent to make some preparations, in the event that you need to be in your home for a period of time. These preparations should be made now, not the day before or day of. There are several websites developed by the government which offer step-by-step, practical recommendations to take now for family safety should an event occur. These websites include www.ready.gov/; http://emergency.cdc.gov/; and  http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/ The main three ideas for preparedness are: Make a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed.

You should prepare a kit for your family. It should at the minimum contain:

Water (one gallon of water per person per day) and non-perishable food for at least 3 days;

Masks or a dense-weave cotton fabric that could provide a filter between you and air contaminants; Materials to make a “shelter in place” (heavyweight plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting, duct tape and scissors); Also desirable are: a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter; A flashlight; A battery-powered radio; Extra batteries; A first aid kit; A wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities); A whistle (to signal for help); A can opener; Garbage bags and ties for personal sanitation; Special items for special populations, such as infant formula, diapers, medications, eye glasses and pet supplies. Some people might choose to keep a small amount of cash.

You should make a family plan. This plan should include important phone numbers, how to decide whether to stay where you are or to evacuate an area (or go to get children) and how you will contact each other if separated during an event. It is important to know your child’s school/day care emergency plan so you can discuss it with your child. You may want to keep your car with at least half a tank of gas at all times.

The third part of “being ready” is to be informed. Do you listen to weather forecasts? Sometimes they are off, because predicting the weather is not infallible. However, with today’s technology, they often are able to give us warning about developing storms. Do you know what to do in the event of a biological, chemical, or radiological threat? While it is not essential to know every possible agent, there are some general practices that you can learn should there be an event. Specific information about an event would most likely be available through emergency operation centers.

If the above information seems overwhelming, you can at least take two or three simple actions, you may make your life safer, should a hurricane or other emergency occur. Number 1: You need flashlights and batteries; the more, the better. Put one next to everyone’s bed. This simple action will help you navigate your environment more safely and help you to find supplies that you might need. Flashlights are much safer than candles! Don’t wait until a storm is predicted as batteries disappear quickly from the shelves days before the storm. Most batteries have expiration dates on them, so check yours.

Number 2: Every home should have a battery-operated radio. Should an event be widespread or should you need information about evacuations or special instructions, your radio may be your only source of information. The internet and the television offer great information, but if the electricity is out, a radio may be your only source of information. 

Taking these two actions are pretty simple and can relieve a lot of anxiety, especially if you have children in the home. However, should an event occur, you may need more than a flashlight and a radio. Keeping non-perishable foods in the home and at least a three day water supply is strongly advised. For those on wells and septic, remember that toilets don’t flush when the power goes out! Filling bathtubs and other large pots should a hurricane or other large storm approach will be very helpful 

If you do not have access to the internet, QVHD can provide District residents (Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge) with a packet of information to help you to “be ready.”  Call QVHD, 203 248-4528 for a packet, or request by email, dculligan@qvhd.org