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Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center begins 72-hour survival kit campaign

New Mexico

Wildfires, floods, blizzards and tornadoes are many forms of natural disasters that can happen, even in New Mexico. Is your family ready to survive 72-hours cutoff from its normal life support--food, water, shelter?

The Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center (SWBFSDC) is joining efforts with New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (NMDHSEM) and New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service to help families be prepared for an emergency.

SWBFSDC, housed at New Mexico State University, is a partnership between NMSU College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and New Mexico Department of Agriculture to provide preparedness training for communities and the agricultural industry across New Mexico.

"We at the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center have worked a lot on agriculture security, food security and food safety in our state, and continue to do so. The next step is to help educate the general public about being prepared for any disaster--fire, flood, tornado or chemical explosion, either by a terrorist attack or freight train wreck," said Bobby Ann Dictson, Extension specialist with the center. "We are working with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to inform the public about what they can do to be prepared for a natural disaster."

NMDHSEM has published a booklet titled "New Mexico Family Emergency Preparedness Guide" and has distributed it for the past two years. The guide covers every kind of possible disaster and how to prepare for it.

Last year SWBFSDC distributed personal safety information through its orange backpack kits, which have been distributed at special trainings given by SWBFSDC staff and Extension agents, and county Kids, Kows and More and Farm Safety school field trips. The kits include the preparedness guide, information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on how to respond to emergencies, and Avian Influenza educational materials. It also includes DEET insect repellent wipes, a flashlight, first aid kit, hand sanitizer, a family medical record booklet, and other booklets regarding homeowner preparedness and food safety.

The next step is the introduction of the 72-hour family survival kits that include food bars, water and other emergency supplies for four people, two people and one person.

"This builds on New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management's 'What's Your Plan?' and 'Be Prepared for Any Disaster' campaigns," said Dictson of SWBFSDC's decision to focus on family preparedness this year. "We have purchased a set of 72-hour emergency survival kits for each Extension Service county office to use during presentations on family preparedness."

The four-person kit comes in either a backpack or five-gallon bucket, which can also serve as a toilet during an emergency. The bucket, which has the largest collection of survival items, contains four 2400 calorie food bars, thermal blanket, ponchos with hoods, tissue packs, dust masks and 12-hour light sticks, 12 water boxes with straws, 50 water purification tablets and one each--pair of work gloves, tube tent with ropes, vinyl gloves, solar radio and flashlight with hand crank generator, first aid kit, can opener, 50-feet of rope, gas shut-off wrench, multi-function Swiss-style army knife, box of waterproof matches, 36-hour emergency candle, sanitation/toilet bags, toilet chemical pouches, roll of duct tape, and a safety whistle.

"The backpack for four or two people and the single person fanny pack contain the food bars, water, thermo blanket, poncho and a selection of the other survival items, but not to the extent that the five-gallon bucket contains," Dictson said. "The survival kit should be able to support a number of people for three days if they are separated from rescue or must stay at a designated safe location."

The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to obtain survival kits, either by purchasing or building their own, and have it ready for use in an emergency.

For more information about preparedness presentations including the survival kit, contact your county Extension office. Emergency kits can be purchased online by conducting a Google search for "72-hour survival kits."



The Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center at NMSU is promoting families preparedness, including having a 72-hour survival kit. The kit provides food bars, water, thermo blankets and various other survival supplies for the number of people living in the home. Pictured is a four-person kit that NMSU Extension offices across the state will use during preparedness presentations. (Photo by NMSU Photo.)

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