Do you have an emergency plan?
Emergency preparedness is something that should be on everyone’s mind, especially in today’s world. Being a disaster planner is imperative to your family’s survival. There are so many things that could happen – a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, a prolonged power outage. Sadly, the list goes on and on. L
In this article, we will discuss some basic steps that you can take to prepare for any disaster situation. Being a disaster planner is not the same as being a doomsday prepper. Having an emergency plan in place may save your life!
Step 1 – Be Aware Of The Emergencies You May Be Facing
First, we start by determining and making a list of the natural disasters one may be facing in their area. Preparing for a tornado is very different from preparing for a hurricane, an earthquake, or a major snowstorm. Be aware of the types of emergencies you may encounter. Afterward, read up on how to best prepare for each of them. Use a disaster planner checklist, which you will find FREE in this article.
Step 2 – Find A Safe Spot In The House
Next, if planning to wait out the disaster at home, it’s a good idea to preplan the safe place location. When the unexpected hits, don’t get overwhelmed and make bad decisions under stress. Think about the safest place now. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what and where that safe place is. One may want to stash an emergency kit with a flashlight, emergency radio, and some food and water in the area. How and where that place is will vary from home to home and emergency to emergency. Refer to your list and research from step one to make an educated decision.
Step 3 – Declare A Safe Meeting Spot Should Evacuation be mandated
Some natural disasters and man-made emergencies will require evacuation. It’s a good idea to come up with safe meeting spots well ahead of time. Meeting up with a relative who lives further inland for example is a good plan when a hurricane is approaching. Do you know where the nearest emergency shelters are? If not, now is the time to find out! In most cases, local schools or community centers will serve as emergency shelters. This information will become the basis for the family emergency plan.
Next, decide on a meeting spot and make sure each family member, including the children, know where to meet. We never know when disaster strikes and who may be where. Being a disaster planner includes determining where the safe spot is, even if you are all coming from different locations. For example, if the kids are staying at a friend’s house or are at school, they will need to know where to go.
Step 4 – Keep Emergency Contact Info On You At All Times
Another good idea is to keep contact information on hand at all times. This should include any and all cell phone numbers of the immediate family. Also, landline numbers for friends or relatives who live further away and who may be able to act as intermediaries. In addition, share disaster planner checklists and information with other friends and family too.
It’s also a good idea to exchange email addresses. To clarify, use web-based emails that can be accessed anywhere. During the hours after 9/11, it was almost impossible to make a phone call. Email became a way to communicate with phone lines overloaded. Text messaging may be another option when calls don’t go through. Planning ahead of disasters is the key.
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Step 5 – Food, Water, And Medical Provisions
Last but not least it’s good to have some emergency rations on hand. Keep enough clean water, food, and any medication needed to last for a few days. By then, emergency personnel should hopefully have arrived. Again, the types of supplies and how long one should have provision for will vary among families and types of emergencies. Remember, one doesn’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.
Emergency preparedness is not something to take lightly. By following these five steps, you and your family will be much better off should the unthinkable happen. Lastly, be prepared and stay safe!
A disaster planner Keeps Important Documents Safe and Secure
It is rare that something may happen to your home, but, it’s a good idea to be prepared “just in case”. For example, having insurance on a home covers any material things that can be easily replaced. Other things like photos and important documents can be hard or impossible to replace. Missing documents can make it harder to rebuild after disaster strikes. That’s why it is a good idea to keep them safe and secure.
Invest In A Fire Safe
A good fire safe will survive a lot of damage. Invest in a quality one for any documents you want to keep at home. One can get a fairly small box that can be stashed away easily. Also, make sure both you and your spouse know where the safe is kept and both have keys. If you want to be extra safe, keep a copy of the key in a different location.
Get A Bank Deposit Box
You may also want to rent a bank deposit box and store important documents, or notarized copies of them there. This will come in handy when you need the information on the documents (i.e. your insurance policy number). Or, if you need to replace documents that didn’t survive a home emergency.
Make Physical Copies
Sometimes it is easier to get a replacement passport or birth certificate if you have a copy of the original. That’s why it’s helpful to make paper copies and keep them in a secure offsite location. Safe deposit boxes are great places to store this information. You could also keep them at a family member’s home. Make sure the copies are stored safely to avoid issues like identity theft.
Make Digital Copies And Store Them Online
Another option is to scan the documents or take pictures of them with your phone. Then they can be stored on a secure online server. Places like Deposit Box or even Google Photo will store quite a bit of information for you free of charge. Once your document scans are living in the cloud, they can be easily accessed from anywhere. This also makes it easy to email them off to insurance agents, or government officials to get replacement documents made.
Document preparation tips
Spend a little time this week to sort through your most important documents and get your paperwork in order. It won’t take you long to scan them, take pictures of them, and/or make photocopies. The little work you’re doing now to be prepared will potentially save you a lot of headaches down the road.
Make it a point to revisit your documents every 6 months. You will want to make sure everything is up to date and in order. Once the original setup is done, it will be much easier to keep up with it. You’ll likely only need to change out one or two document copies a year.
Creating A Basic Emergency Kit for emergencies
Do you have a basic emergency kit? Governments around the world encourage disaster planning. COVID brought this to light most recently. An increase in violence and wars promote the importance of being a disaster planner. The basic kit should include everything needed to ensure survival for several days or until help arrives.
One of the first things that will get one into trouble in any type of disaster or emergency is dehydration. Make sure to have safe drinking water for several days stored. A good alternative is a small water filtration system to use on unsafe water sources to extend drinking water.
Food and Accessories
Next, it’s good to have at least some emergency food rations. This is particularly important if there are small children. One also needs to consider anyone pregnant or nursing, and the aging. Or, anyone with diabetes or low blood sugar in the family. They can make it even fewer days or hours without food than you can. Keep some easy, ready-to-eat food on hand like granola bars, nuts, and canned foods. Make sure to have any tools or accessories needed to open the food containers and utensils to eat with.
Focus on food items that won’t perish quickly and that can be eaten without cooking. Chances are power will be out and you’ll have no way to cook or heat the food you’ll be eating. My favorite accessory? Propane tanks for camping grills or your own personal grill. This may become your stove top for days or weeks to come.
Radio, Flash Light, and Cellphone
Next, let’s talk about small electronics, or electric, hand-cranked devices. You want to be able to get the information you need and see where you’re going. A good flashlight with long battery life is a must, as is a small weather radio. Have on hand a battery-operated or hand-cranked radio. Have spare sets of batteries if it’s a battery-operated device.
Last but not least, when disaster strikes, grab your phone and charger, if possible. You want to be able to get in touch with loved ones as soon as possible.
First Aid Kit
A small first aid kit that includes bandages, alcohol wipes, Band-Aids, Neosporin, scissors, and some basic pain meds is another must-have. Make sure it also includes any medication taken regularly. Prepare if family members have severe allergies. Make sure to have antihistamines, or an epi-pen available. This may be an important and potentially life-saving addition. Finally, include a brochure or first-aid printout that has instructions for properly treating burns, cuts, abrasions, fractures, bites, etc.
There are various tools that may come in handy in an emergency. A good knife is a must and can come in handy in a variety of different ways. A wrench or pair of pliers is handy if you need to turn off utilities in an emergency. Last but not least, consider adding a whistle or emergency flares to your tool kit. You might need to alert rescuers to your location.
Download a FREE Disaster Planner checklist here.
Be Prepared For Natural Disasters In Your Area
Natural disasters appear in all parts of the world. No matter where you live, chances are you may encounter one of them throughout your lifetime. Depending on where you live, they may happen, or at least threaten your home much more frequently. It’s easy to see why it is important to be a disaster planner.
- The first thing you need to know is what type of emergencies and disasters you can expect in your area. Roads have been shut down by fires or winter storms. Then, the power is often lost too. From there it depends on where you live.
- Your town may be prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoon, earthquakes, and the like. Do your homework, watch the news, talk to your neighbors and figure out what natural disasters you should prepare for. A great source for information is your local government, particularly emergency services. Many sites have brochures, plans, and other resources that will help you prepare for any eventuality.
- Learn how best to respond to your location’s possible disaster types. Is it possible to wait at home, or need to evacuate? Are there emergency shelters or evacuation routes you should be aware of?
- Once you have the basics down, it’s time to work on disaster planning. Determine your plan for securing your home, yard, and vehicles depending on the disaster. What can you do to make sure your property has the best possible outcome? If you’re in an area prone to flooding, having sand bags on hand can be invaluable. Again, what you need will greatly depend on where you live and what natural disaster you can expect.
- Make sure you are aware of the potential threats as early as possible so you can prepare. Set up alerts on your phone and sign up for local emergency preparedness emails. Keep an eye on the news and social media if you think there is a potential for a disaster. The earlier you know the better you can react and prepare. Listen to local authorities and don’t hesitate to evacuate should the need arise. Things can be replaced, people can’t.
Download a FREE Natural Disaster planner checklist here.
Dealing With Long Power Outages
Prolonged power outages are one of the biggest problems during a natural disaster. It is a good idea to think about, and plan, for long periods of time without power.
Alternative Sources Of Power
Most times, power outages are unpredictable. If for some reason an outage is known ahead of time, make sure to fully charge all electronics. While disaster planning, stock up on batteries, invest in a small battery-operated power bank and consider buying a generator.
Candles and wood-burning stoves or fireplaces are other great alternative power sources. These provide light, and warmth, and may provide you the option to cook food.
Having several flashlights and spare batteries is always a good idea. In addition, you should also keep a small, battery-powered radio on hand. It is important to keep up with news and weather forecasts throughout the power outage.
If you have a generator make sure you know how to use it. Learn the process BEFORE you need to use it. Have plenty of fuel for the generator, and always – ALWAYS – run it outside.
Keeping And Preparing Food Without Electricity
If you are dealing with a power outage for only a few hours, do not open your refrigerator. The less you open the fridge, the longer it will remain cool inside. If it lasts longer than that, start eating perishable foods in the fridge first. Cook what you can on a grill or camping stove and toss the rest.
Keep your freezer completely closed and if possible insulate it further by throwing large blankets or comforters over the freezer. Once ready, start thawing, cooking, and consuming food from the freezer once you’re running out of fresh food options. Open the freezer as little as possible. You will want to keep cold air trapped inside so the food will remain fresh for longer.
You can cook and grill outside with your charcoal or gas grill. If you have camping gear, get out the propane stove and cook on it. If neither one of those are an option, cooking over a small fire is always an option. Do all of your cooking outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or causing an indoor fire.
Staying Warm or Cool Without Power
Keeping warm or cool without power can be a major concern in long power outages. Insulating your home ahead of time can make a big difference. Make sure to close shutters and curtains to trap in heat or cool air for as long as possible. Take advantage of the sunshine and outside temperatures during the day or night to regulate the temperature inside. In addition, remember to dress appropriately by either snuggling up under several warm layers or a big blanket. Or, wear as little as possible. Trying to keep a breeze going can help during hot weather. In either case, make sure you get plenty of fluids (either warm or as cool as you can get). If it is cold, remember to aim for plenty of calories in your food.
Basic Survival Skills Anyone Should Have
Regardless of the emergency, you need to have some basic survival skills. Moreover, read through the list, and practice until you are comfortable. Mark off what you have mastered, and if needed have supplies for and then work on the rest. Acquiring these few basic skills will come in handy throughout your lifetime.
Finding And Purifying Water
One of your first tasks in an emergency situation is to find a clean source of water. It’s surprising how often this becomes an issue with large storms, power outages, and the like.
If you are able to plan ahead, store at least one gallon of drinking water per person. Keep for a minimum of 3 days use. It is also a good idea to invest in a small water purifier and learn how to use it. Be aware of natural sources of water you can tap into around your home, should running water stop working.
Make A Fire
Furthermore, another great skill to have is being able to build a fire. Fire can provide warmth and light, and you can cook over it. Think back on your scouting days, or watch a YouTube video and start practicing. Learning how to build a fire is an invaluable skill.
From there you can expand and experiment with different ways to generate a flame. Learn how to do so without a match or lighter or get comfortable at making even wet wood burn.
Building A Shelter
Hopefully, you won’t run into a situation where you have to build a shelter. Yet, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few different ways to build a shelter. Use materials that are common in your area. First, start with simple shelters using string and a tarp. Practice more involved skills that use only materials found in nature like sticks, branches, trees, and leaves. The family disaster planner should find resources teaching how to build basic shelters.
Learn First Aid
If severe weather hits your area, flying debris is the number one cause of injury. Know the basics of first aid. Acquire a good first aid kit and learn how to use each item. As a result, this will help you care for yourself of your family until medical help arrives.
Finding And Preparing Food
Having basic food supplies on hand before a storm or other natural disaster hits is always a good idea. Stock up on plenty of ready-to-eat foods. In addition to having the food, make sure you have the means to open cans and scoop out the food. If possible, plan how to heat and cook things as needed.
Next, you may want to familiarize yourself with the edible foods in your area and where to find them. Chances you’ll need to rely on your foraging skills for survival are slim. However, it’s an important skill to master.
Signaling For Help
Speaking of help… make sure you know how to signal for help without your cell phone and have some basic supplies. At the very least you want a flashlight and a mirror. Messages on the roof can be created with markers and tape. Acquire and practice these skills and you’ll be well on your way to surviving when disaster strikes.
For additional information, visit ready.gov. Here you’ll find in-depth checklists and resources. In short, emergency preparedness isn’t just for when things go wrong, it’s a lifestyle. Learning new skills, and preparing your home and family for different types of disasters is key for a disaster planner. Being ready for anything should become a part of who you are. Lastly, embrace it, because one day it may just save your life.
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