Preparing for Disaster: Better Safe than Sorry

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In the days leading up to Hurricane Irene, viewers and the media alike were shaking in their goulashes, wondering what damage this Category 5 hurricane would bring to the East Coast; but by the time Irene actually made landfall, it had been downgraded from a Category 5, to a 3, and then to a Tropical Storm.

Well, it may be true that Irene wasn’t quite the catastrophe that we’d expected, but in some areas, it did cause some severe damage.

What we’re getting at here is, if the media hadn’t been so… enthusiastic about their predictions, the damage might have been even worse.  But as it was, people had time to prepare, to evacuate where necessary, and get together an emergency plan.

The funny thing about most emergencies—from natural disasters to, say… zombies taking over your city—is that they are unexpected; and it is generally a good idea to have a plan and some supplies stashed away, just in case. And you don’t even have to break the bank to do it.

Fix up the house. No, not like you’re expecting company—like you’re expecting a natural disaster. There are several relatively inexpensive steps you can take around the house to make sure you are as safe as possible if an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or flood ever came through unexpectedly. Some of them just involve a little rearranging.

  • Repair defective electrical wiring.
  • Fasten shelves securely and brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Avoid placing beds near windows.
  • Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.
  • Store any flammable products away from heat sources (weed killers, pesticides, etc.)
  • Anchor heavy appliances, bookcases, and furniture to wall studs or the floor.
  • Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Do not permanently nail, paint, or glue windows or doors shut.

Create an Emergency Kit. This is in case you find yourself stuck in your house for a while. The kit should last you at least 3 days and should be stored in something sturdy—like a backpack or suitcase—in a safe part of your home.

  • 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day)
  • Non-perishable food and a can-opener (things like soups, ramen, instant potatoes, canned fruits, etc.) You can buy these in bulk so they will be less expensive.
  • Pet food and water.
  • First aid kit that includes any necessary prescriptions
  • Flashlight and plenty of extra batteries OR…
  • Solar garden path lights, which you can recharge in a windowsill during the day. These are inexpensive enough ($1-$5 each) that you can place one in each room like a lantern.
  • Personal care items (toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, etc.)
  • An extra pair of glasses if you wear them
  • Put your important family documents into a waterproof container!

Have a plan. Don’t wait until the last minute to make a plan for a natural disaster or an emergency. Sit down with your family and discuss some realistic possibilities. Here are just some things you might think about. FEMA has a great list of other things you need to consider when making a disaster plan.

  • Discuss what you’ll do about power outages and personal injuries
  • Draw a floor plan of your house and think of two escape routes from each room
  • Post emergency phone numbers near phone, and teach your kiddos how to call 911
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend/relative for family members to call if you’re separated
  • Pick 2 emergency meeting places: 1 near the home in case of fire; 2 outside of the neighborhood in case you can’t return home
  • Prepare pets (with carriers or leashes) should you need to flee the house.
  • If you don’t need to flee the house, make sure your pets are within sight and safe.
  • Keep fuel in your car at all times. You might also want to keep an Emergency Supplies Kit in the trunk.

When putting together supplies in case of an emergency, always remember the adage “it’s better safe than sorry.” If you can get twice as much for a little bit more money, do. Keep your supplies somewhere safe, and don’t fret about anything going bad or to waste.

These simple and inexpensive tips will help get you ready for natural disasters of all shapes and sizes—tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc. If you’d like to find out more about what to do during the storm to stay safe, click here. As we’ve seen with Irene, if an emergency really does strike, it’s always better to be prepared.

 

Do you have an emergency plan? Comment below and share your ideas!

Photos Courtesy of: Official US Navy Imagery, Hakan Dahlstrom, Lua Ahmed, Mazzali, BrewBooks, Carterse, AussieGall, Juhan Sonin, Doviende, Jenny Downing, JR Conlin, Tim Godber, Steven Depolo, Shandchem, Joe Shlabotnik

Sources: Guardian.co.uk, WashingtonPost.com, TheEmergencyFoodSupply.com, Ready.gov, USNA.edu

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