Be Prepared!

Posted on Posted in Reflections

Mark McGraw, a frequent contributor to Reflections on the student loan crisis, has prepared a comprehensive document on emergency planning for families. With the tornado and hurricane seasons fast approaching, I felt the Reflections audience would be well-served by sharing it with you. Below is Mark’s article, “Be Prepared.”

­—Jim McGraw

Hurricane Katrina changed by life. I saw a total collapse of society into chaos in a matter of hours. At that moment, I decided that I needed to be prepared for an emergency.

The most likely disaster scenario we may face is the loss of electricity for an extended period of time. This could be due to a storm or other disaster that takes out the electrical grid. Things can get even worse if you lose water, natural gas, have flooding or need to evacuate.

If you are forced to leave your home, make sure you:

  • Know how to shut off your electric, natural gas and water supplies in your home.
  • Know how to drain your plumbing in case you lose heat.
  • Know the escape routes from your home in case you need to evacuate.
  • Keep your vehicles full of gas.
  • Know ahead of time what  you will take;
    key documents, laptop and key hard drives, passports, etc.
  • Have a plan for your family on where to get together and how to communicate.

It’s also vital to have the necessary supplies with you. FEMA is a pretty good source of information, especially In addition, here are the things I recommend

  • Battery powered or hand crank radio with AM/FM/NOAA bands. Plenty of extra batteries.
  • Good flashlights for every member of your family, again with lots of extra batteries.
  • 30-60-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Solar charger for your mobile phone and other hand-held electronics.
  • Water. FEMA recommends a gallon per person per day.
  • Camping equipment including propane cook stove, lanterns, heater, sleeping bags, etc.
  • First aid kit plus dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape.
  • Toiletry kit with items like soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, contact lens solution, etc.
  • Two gallons of Clorox bleach for cleaning and purifying water.
  • Toilet paper, diaper wipes, zip lock bags and trash bags.
  • CASH, in small bills.
  • If you have babies or pets you will need supplies for them as well.

Some of these items may have a limited shelf life so check them periodically.

Hopefully you will never have to use any of this advice, but as the Boy Scouts remind us, “Be Prepared.”


Thanks to Mark for sharing these important emergency planning tips. I hope you find them useful. As they say, “better safe than sorry.”