Emergency Kit – be afraid, be very afraid

Dear all

This is National Preparedness month.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) promotes October as a time when families should review their preparedness plans in the event of a disaster.  They publish a zombie survival guide which is a relatively light hearted way of thinking through what you need to survive if a disaster does strike.

The current Ebola virus has given the issue of emergency preparedness more visibility this month, and I noted in a blog a few weeks ago that we were going to update our own family emergency kit.

I am glad that we did as our kit was sorely, sorely out of date.  I put this kit together about eight years ago and many of the supplies and most of the food was out of date.  More embarrassingly I had obviously put the kit together in the summer expecting something akin to an extended summer camping trip – we had no real wet weather gear and nothing that would keep us warm in freezing conditions.

The clothes that we had stored for our then five year old daughter would have only been effective as rags – she has grown somewhat in the last eight years!!!

So we have gone through the kit, replaced the food, updated other emergency supplies, warm and wet weather gear.  We still need to store 65 gallons of water (the American Red Cross recommends 3 gallons per person per day), and we need to scrounge up things like spare eyeglasses, spare medications etc.

We ended up buying large 27 gallon storage totes from Lowes to store all of the stuff.  We now have seven of these containers packed to the gunnels with just the core items on the Red Cross and CDC recommended lists.  I thought that this would be a quick once over check off this gear and it has turned into a significant projects over three weekends.  We are also now left with the problem of where to keep all of the stuff.  It needs to be dry and safe and obviously accessible in the case of an emergency.

We are now better prepared, and we hope that we never ever have to depend on these kits.  Even at seven totes this is the bare minimum and it makes you realize how much we take our shelter, our warmth, our ability to cook and clean and stay safe for granted.



Ken Gordon

Executive Director

Emory University Hospital Commitment to Community

Good morning

There was an amazing story on NPR this morning about the preparation and commitment to infection control by the Emory Healthcare.  You can read and listen to the story here.  Their multi-year commitment to preparedness for infectious disease control, training of staff, preparation of facilities and of sharing their own best practices is amazing.

They have developed and keep updating an 84 page Ebola protocol.  For those who are interested this protocol can be downloaded here.

emory_customEbola patient Amber Vinson arrived by ambulance at Emory University Hospital on Oct. 15. Now healthy, Vinson was discharged from the hospital Tuesday (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images).

Ken Gordon

Executive Director

Around the World With IDRI

Dear all
Around the World with IDRI

The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) is hosting an information evening on Thursday October the 16th about emerging diseases, such as Ebola and chikungunya and also age old diseases such as tuberculosis. As everyone now knows these diseases can so quickly span the globe. This discussion will focus on the rapidity of the spread and what we as individuals, families and communities can do to stop this.

This is a hot topic at the moment and I have shared news of this event with my friends and family because I think it is important that we know about this.

In the developed world there is a belief that because we have access to the most amazing medical facilities that such diseases are not so dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth. A few thousand highly contagious individuals would have the ability to rapidly overwhelm our medical facilities. Even if we had this number of infectious control beds available – this number of incredibly sick people will mean that medical, nursing and other care professionals will be pulled away from their normal day to day work. I may not be a direct victim of Ebola – but if my heart condition cannot be treated – I could easily become an indirect victim of Ebola.

We therefore cannot rely on the traditional health services during such times. A major epidemic is similar to an earthquake in that the message has to be that individuals and families have to be able to look after themselves until such time as authorities can catch up. It is worth using this time when we are not in an epidemic to look at household preparedness.  At the end of this blog I have included a list of items from the American Red Cross that each family should have to help them survive the aftermath of a disaster.

When it comes to epidemics there are a number of other key precautions.  These include minimizing the spread of disease by staying home, and really watching hygiene when someone is sick.  Wash hands, watch for droplet infection, sanitize surfaces and items used by a person that is sick.  Seek medical attention, but call your medical facilities before arriving – some diseases such as measles can remain present floating in the air for several hours after a contagious person has been in a room.  Your medical facilities can help make arrangements to keep all their patients safe.

If, and I fervently hope this does not happen, a disease such as Ebola does take hold in the developed world – then the best defense is to not get the disease.  Everything that we can do to minimize cross infections will become increasingly important and having access to an emergency kit like the one listed below will be a vital part of helping people to stay safe.

This is the suggested items from the American Red Cross that each family should have prepared in case of a disaster:

Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
Extra batteries
First aid kit – Anatomy of a First Aid Kit
Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
Multi-purpose tool
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Cell phone with chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Extra cash
Emergency blanket
Map(s) of the area
Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc)
Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
Games and activities for children
Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
Two-way radios
Extra set of car keys and house keys
Manual can opener
N95 or surgical masks
Rain gear
Work gloves
Tools/supplies for securing your home
Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
Plastic sheeting
Duct tape
Household liquid bleach
Entertainment items
Blankets or sleeping bags

Just by the way – I do have one of these kits – but it is out of date.  This will be one of my own tasks this coming weekend ….



Ken Gordon

Executive Director