Winneshiek County Public Health encourages every family to be prepared for any type of public health threat.

What is a public health threat? It can be anything from a tornado or snowstorm to extreme heat or cold to an outbreak of shigella or meningitis or an influenza pandemic.

How can you prepare? Just before a snowstorm do find yourself at the grocery store stocking up on just about anything? Some of that cannot be avoided but, there are things you can do to get prepared and stay prepared. These things include:
• Having enough non-perishable foods on hand for everyone in your house for 3-5 days. This means having canned vegetables, fruit and meat. It also means bread, crackers, and cereal. It includes snacks such as granola bars. If you store the foods, be sure to rotate them and then restock.
• Have a hand can opener. If there’s no electricity, it will be difficult to open a can.
• Have enough water (bottled or stored) on hand for each person to drink 1 gallon of water per day for 3-5 days. Remember that if the electricity goes off, the well doesn’t work, this is especially true for rural residents.
• Have first aid kit. Be sure to include pain and fever reducing medication (such as Tylenol or Motrin, for example) for both adults and children, if they live in the house. Keep antibiotic ointment, allergy medication and bandaids available.
• Be sure to have enough prescription medication available. This is especially important for diabetics who depend on insulin or those persons with breathing problems and use inhalers or nebulizers.
• Keep a flashlight and batteries available. Have either a crank radio or batteries for a radio.
• Consider children and pets. What are some of their needs? Do you need diapers, wipes, formula, water for mixing formula, pet food, water for the animals?
• Personal hygiene items. This would include sanitary napkins and tampons, contact solution, birth control pills.
• Keep a list of important phone numbers available and either a cell phone or phone card.
• In the event you would need to evacuate for safety reasons, small amounts of cash, and important personal documents such as health records.

The following lists are good starting places to begin making your preparedness kit.

Where can I find these items? The items on the lists can be found in most grocery or discount stores. Many hardwares stores also stock these supplies.

I live on a fixed income. How can I purchase all this? Most people do live from paycheck to paycheck. Can you afford to take just $10 from each paycheck to set aside for an emergency fund? Many of the items listed may be things you already have in your pantry and as part of your household. Use them and just remember to re-stock.

Why should I make a preparedness kit? In the likely event there is a public health threat, you may not be able to get help and help may not be able to get to you. It is better to be somewhat prepared with some things. In certain events such as a tornado, Winneshiek County may need to work with what we’ve already got before others can come to help us. It could take 48-72 hours or longer for help from others to arrive.