During a disaster things may become very chaotic and confusing. The following 3 essential ways to manage during a disaster are provided to try and ease the confusion you may experience during this time:
1. Taking Shelter: Prior to a disaster taking place, you should have discussed designated shelter rooms in which to remain safe as part of your plan to manage during a disaster. Shelter rooms will vary depending on the type of disaster.
If you are required to leave your home and have not made alternative arrangements for shelter, mass shelters are generally available to the public. Mass shelters require you to live with a large number of people within a designated space. Unfortunately, this is not the most pleasant experience; however, it will provide you with a degree of safety and a roof over your head. Mass shelters provide food, water and sanitary requirements. However, it is still beneficial for you to take your disaster supplies kit with you, particularly if a member of your family has special requirements.
As a rule, for hygiene purposes, pets are not allowed in community shelters.
2. Managing Water: Despite often seeing it on television, it is important to remember that water should not be rationed (unless specified by authorities). Allow each family member to drink according to their needs as part of your plan to manage during a disaster. If you are prepared and have assembled a disaster supplies kit, you should have done so taking water requirements into account. Water requirements per person per day are approximately two liters.
To minimize water requirements and thus make the best use of your stored water, try to remain inside and cool, and avoid participating in strenuous activities.
If you are fortunate enough to have packed bottled water, ensure you drink this to avoid the risk of contamination.
If you do not have sealed bottled water, the following sources may be used to obtain water:
- Melted ice cubes
- Water drained from a heater
- Juice from canned or tinned fruit
- Water drained from pipes (ensure you have shut the water off at the main valve before draining from pipes)
When draining water from pipes, treat it with suspicion. If the water appears cloudy, or if you have any doubts about drinking it, it may be best to treat the water before drinking it. Treatment methods are as follows:
- Boiling: The high temperature provided by boiling water will eliminate any micro organisms. Boiling is a safe and convenient means of treating water.
Boil the water for one minute and allow it to cool before drinking. Passing the water back and forth between two containers will improve the taste.
- Distillation: This method will not only eliminate micro organisms from water, it will also effectively remove any other chemicals. This method involves boiling water and collecting the resultant vapors.
To distill water, boil the water in a pot that has a matching lid with a handle. Tie a cup to this handle in a way that the cup hangs the right way up when the pot lid is upside down. Place the lid upside down on the pit while the water is boiling, ensuring that the cup does not touch the water. Boil for twenty minutes. When you remove the pot lid (be careful not to drop the cup), distilled water will have accumulated in the cup.
- Chlorination: This technique may be used in the event that you do not have the means to boil water.
Adding simple household bleach will aid in the chlorinating process. The only bleach that may be used is bleach containing 5.25 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite that is not scented, color safe or combined with a cleaning agent.
Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach for every 3.7 liters of water. Allow this to sit for fifteen minutes. The mixture should smell lightly of chlorine; if it does not repeat the process. Discard the water if it does not give off a chlorine smell after the second dose of bleach.
3. Managing Food: When you manage during a disaster, managing your food supply is paramount. It is important to remember that rules for food hygiene and safety still apply. Before handling or preparing food, ensure you wash your hands.
Ensure food is kept in covered containers (discard any food that has been left out at room temperature or has been left unsealed), and that all utensils are kept clean.
Any garbage should be disposed of outside in a sealed bag.