With all the natural disasters going on these days (and a few man-made ones), it only makes sense to learn something about emergency preparedness. You simply do not want to get caught off guard and find yourself without the things you need to weather the storm…or whatever else is going on….and to get through in relative comfort until normal life in your area is completely restored. Here’s what you need to know about emergency preparedness, so you can be ready for the next one.
Stock Up on Necessities
According to the CDC:
If a disaster strikes in your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for several days. Preparing an emergency kit for your family is an important step in keeping them safe and healthy during an emergency.
Don’t wait until you hear a disaster is coming your way to prepare your kit. Once the news is out, everyone in your area will be out shopping for the same things as you, and you might not be able to get what you need. Most emergency professionals recommend having supplies for at least three days, if you plan to shelter in place. This suggestion is a minimum, and you might want to consider stocking up for up to a week on the following things:
- Non-perishable food
- Bottled water (at least a gallon per person per day)
- Pet food
- Medications for both humans and pets
- Fuel (for both your car and a generator, if you have one)
- Cash (at least $100 a day)
The CDC website has an even more extensive list of things you might want to make sure you have on hand.
In addition to preparing a kit, you should make sure your car has a full tank of gas before the disaster hits, and that your house has at least one flashlight per person. Buy a hand-crank can opener if you don’t already have one, so you can access your non-perishable food. Get a portable cell phone charger, and charge it up before the disaster hits, so you can re-charge your phones. Another good idea to do right before the disaster is to fill up your bathtub with water. It will be good for using to wash dishes and clothes, give yourself and family members sponge baths, and to flush the toilet if you lose access to your well or city water for a while.
Be Prepared to Do Without Power
As we recently saw with the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, power can easily be knocked out for a week or more in those types of disasters. You can weather it out as best you can in the extreme heat or cold, but it won’t be pleasant. If you haven’t don’t so already, now is the time to make sure you are able to keep as many of those creature comforts power provides as possible. This means one of two things: either buy a generator, or switch the power in your home over to solely solar.
Neither is exactly a cheap option, but so worth it. You will have the peace of mind of knowing you can power your lights at night, run the AC or heater as necessary (or at least a few fans and a space heater), and keep your refrigerator cool. You can then live in relative comfort until things get back to normal. If you get a generator, make sure it uses propane, as this fuel can safely be stocked up on and stored, unlike gasoline.
Make an Escape Plan
If you have enough notice, and it looks like the disaster may be a bad one, develop an escape plan, and enact it early. The longer you wait to go, the more traffic you are likely to encounter. If your escape plan relies on hotels, they may all be booked up if you wait to leave.
Decide on where you will go, how soon in advance you will leave, and how you will get there. Make a plan for either boarding or bringing your pets (and, you should really bring them, if possible).
Keep a bag packed for each family member with at least three days’ worth of clothes, medications, and anything else you can’t do without. This way, you can grab and go as soon as you need to. Finally, make sure you have an alarm system in place at your house, so you know whatever you leave behind will be protected from looters until you get back.
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