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Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks

Published: October 31, 2009

Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Like it or not, most of us will change our clocks when daylight-saving time ends on November 1. But health experts say that extra hour is a good time to prepare for unexpected emergencies.

Blizzards, floods, blackouts—even flu epidemics—may leave you and your family unable to go out or without access to food, water, or electricity for a few days.

“We already use daylight-saving time as an opportunity to focus on preparedness by checking batteries in smoke alarms, so it’s a great time to ensure that we have supplies to fall back on in the event of an emergency,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of American Public Health Association (APHA). “Use the extra hour to create a new emergency kit or check your current stockpile for any perishable items that may have expired or canned goods that you may have used.”

Being prepared calls for advance planning. Before disaster strikes close to home, follow the APHA “Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks” campaign recommendations listed below. Click here for downloadable fact sheets and checklists.

1. Check your stockpile of food, water, and batteries to make sure everything is still good. If you don’t have a stockpile, take some time to assemble at least a three-day supply of food, with one or more gallon of water per person per day. Flashlights, a manual can opener, a radio, medical and personal supplies, and copies of key documents are also recommended. You don’t need to purchase everything at once. Pick up one or two items every time you go to the store, stock up on “sale” items or split a case of bulk supplies with a friend.

2. If health officials advise you to “shelter in place” because of a flu outbreak, an emergency stockpile of water and foods may be needed for one week or longer.

3. Familiarize yourself and your family with your community’s emergency preparedness plan, including evacuation routes, emergency shelters, and the location of food banks.

4. Develop or update your family communication plan, which spells out how you will get in touch with one another during an emergency.

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