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Know where to turn in an emergency

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Minnesota and North Dakota urges all families to take the time to create and discuss disaster plans with their loved ones.

Safety is paramount in an emergency, but basic protective actions - for instance, whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place - can differ depending on the disaster. There are important differences among potential emergencies that should influence the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Two things every family needs regardless of what disasters may strike are an emergency plan and an emergency kit.

Recommended items for an emergency kit include:

--A gallon of water per person per day for three days.

--A three-day supply of nonperishable food for each family member.

--A flashlight with extra batteries.

--First-aid kit.

--A whistle to signal for help.

--Dust masks.

--A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

--A power inverter or solar charger for your cell phone.

You may consider including prescriptions (or at the very least a list of prescriptions), infant formula and diapers, pet food and cash. Place copies of important family documents (insurance policies, identification and financial records) in a waterproof, portable container near your escape route.

Pencil and paper, paper cups and plates, and plastic utensils are also useful. And if you have kids, pack some games, books or puzzles. Maintaining your kit is also important. You will want to replace stored water and food every six months. Mark the date on containers or cans.

For an emergency plan, make sure all family members know where to meet and who to contact in case you get separated. A relative or friend in another area is an ideal emergency contact person. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to send and receive text messages. Consider downloading smartphone apps that provide emergency information.

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