Setting your clocks back on Nov. 7 for daylight saving time provides one extra hour to prepare for unexpected emergencies. The American Public Health Association, in a recent press release, encouraged all Americans to prepare their families and communities for any kind of emergency such as blizzards, floods, blackouts or influenza.

If disaster strikes your community, it’s important that your household is well stocked with essential supplies such as food, water and batteries. And, because a growing number of families receive emergency food from their local community in times of need, it is equally critical that local food banks are supported as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2008 more than 49 million Americans lived in households that did not have enough food. Data from Feeding America show that also in 2008 about 4 percent of all U.S. households received emergency food at least once.

“During daylight saving time, we should all take a moment to focus on preparedness not only for our own families but for your entire community,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “Food banks are called upon to support families who are displaced during a disaster, so we have a responsibility to make sure local food banks are supported, too.”

Sponsored by APHA, the Get Ready campaign published its first-ever Food Drive Toolkit, which provides an array of ideas and tips for hosting your own food drive at work, school or place of worship. Molly McGlinchy, food resources coordinator for the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., recently shared her advice on how local communities can organize successful food drives. The Food Drive Toolkit and interview with McGlinchy can be found online at http://www.getreadyforflu.org/clocksstocks/index.htm.

Here are a few important tips on how to prepare your family for emergencies:
  • Check your stockpile and make sure that your supplies such as food, water and batteries are still good. If you don’t have a stockpile, take some time to create one.
  • Re-familiarize yourself and your family with your community’s emergency preparedness plan, including evacuation routes, emergency shelters and the location of food banks.
  • Update your family communication plan, which will spell out how you will get in touch with one another during an emergency.
  • Gather extra supplies for your pets, which need their own stockpile of food and water.
  • Collect your medications together in one place, and make sure you have enough supplies in case you or family members have to stay home due to illness for a few days.
APHA’s reminder to check your emergency supplies is part of Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks, the Association’s biannual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of having a stocked emergency preparedness kit complete with food, water and first aid supplies.

Online at www.getreadyforflu.org/clocksstocks/, the Get Ready: Set Your Clocks, Check Your Stocks Web page includes free fact sheets on what to put in your emergency stockpile, budget stockpiling, stockpiling for pets and what you need to stockpile if you have to stay home with an illness. Some materials are also available in Spanish.