By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Picture this, a giant winter storm hits Cherokee and the power is out for four days.
Or worse, a terrorism agency drops an unknown virus at the casino and it quickly spreads around the Qualla Boundary.
Would you be prepared for these events if you had to go without power or quarantine yourself inside your house for several days?
For the past two years, the EBCI Health & Medical program has been distributing emergency kits and education to community members in the event of a serious natural disaster or bioterrorism attack. Keahana Lambert-Sluder, administrative program coordinator for Health & Medical, has taught 33 classes and given out 359 kits (one per family) during that time span.
“Each kit contains enough supplies to sustain a family of four for three days in the event of a disaster,” said Lambert-Sluder. “You can actually take that bag out into the woods and camp. You’ve got matches, batteries, tarps, blankets, water, food, a radio. It’s amazing what’s all in that kit.”
Health & Medical bought the kits from ProPac with grant monies from the State of North Carolina. The 45-lb. bags contain the items listed above as well as a first aid kit, rope, trash bags, ponchos, a respirator, and more.
“Our goal is to help sustain as many community members as we can.”
On the classes, she said, “The response was very positive, and I was pleased with the number of people that came out. I still have some kits left, but we have to wait on additional monies to be able to provide those classes.”
Lambert-Sluder suggests adding items that will personalize the kit to your family including: medications if needed, birth certificates and social security cards (kept in waterproof containers), cash, and extra food and water if your family is larger than four people.
The CDC defines bioterrorism as, “The deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, toxins or other harmful agents used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants.”
Lambert-Sluder noted, “You can’t really prepare yourself for those as far as being ill, but you can prepare yourself and your family for being quarantined at home.”
She also said that the kit is not only designed to help people survive in a bioterrorism attack but also a natural disaster or severe weather.
“This winter, when we lose power, and you know we will with the weather,” she related, “what are you going to do to make sure that your family is warm? What are you going to do to make sure that your family has food and the medications they need?”
Lambert-Sluder encourages everyone to talk to their health provider about having extra medications on hand in case of an emergency. “Depending on the medication, you can get a three-month supply so that you know that if you’re at home for three days you’ve got your supplies. Don’t wait until the last minute.”
“It’s about talking and planning for things we hope never happen,” she said. “Make a list and a plan with your family.”