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Hurricane Katrina left behind a very unhealthy environment for the Gulf Coast area that could affect the health and safety of many people and animals who live, work, or were visiting in that area. Assisting with the impact of exposures to environmental contaminants is what we do best here at NIEHS, so we quickly went into action!
First, a few definitions to help you understand these terms:
Environment: Everything around us; everything within our surroundings; our atmosphere, background, circumstances, climate, habitat, neighborhood, territory, turf, etc. Also visit our storybook, "Sharon Finds the Environment" for more information about your environment!
Impact: An effect; something of influence or significance to us.
Exposures: Coming into physical contact with something; being subjected to risk from a harmful action or condition
Contaminant: Something unhealthy.
NIEHS scientists and physicians were immediately sent to the devastated areas to assist with relief efforts. In addition, NIEHS also created a new website with a Global Information System (GIS) to provide important information about the possible health effects of the disaster.
Here's a helpful packing list and other useful suggestions developed from FEMA's Emergency Preparedness Checklist and other resources. And kids, remember that YOU can help your families collect these items so your family will be ready to roll in an emergency!
WEATHER EMERGENCY KIT AND EMERGENCY PLANNING
at least a three-day supply of water, allowing 1 gallon per person per day; store water in sealed, unbreakable containers, and identify the storage date so that emergency supplies can be renewed every six months;
canned and no-cook food that doesn't spoil (such as crackers, peanut butter, dry cereal, canned fruit and vegetables; non-electric can opener;
flashlight and plenty of extra batteries;
first-aid kit (don't forget basic over the counter and prescription medicine);
portable radio or NOAA weather radio;
cell phone and AC/DC chargers;
change of clothing, rain gear and comfortable, sturdy shoes;
pillows, blankets, and/or sleeping bags;
extra pair of glasses;
extra set of car and house keys;
credit or ATM card and cash;
any special needs for babies, disabled, and elderly family members;
beloved or comfort items for children—toys, favorite stuffed animal, etc.;
pet needs (food, water, proper ID tags, leashes and collars, and crates as needed to transport pets to safety);
car supplies, including plenty of gas, booster cables, fire extinguisher, maps, shovel, tire repair kit;
list of family physicians and medications you take;
list of important family information and a waterproof container with vital documents such as birth certificates, social security numbers, etc.;
style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers;
phone numbers and contact information for a friend or relative for family members to call if separated during a disaster (remember: it is often easier to call out-of-state than within the affected area);
two emergency meeting places:
a place to gather near your home in case of a fire;
a place to gather outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster.
Some scientists are also trained as relief workers. They visit natural disaster sites and collect data for research. They hope to use their data for the future. Learn more about Disaster Research Response Efforts.