We don’t think about it every day, but a natural disaster could happen to any of us at any time. Does your family have a disaster preparedness plan? In the event of any emergency or disaster, you want to stay calm. If you find yourself facing a disaster or emergency, take a moment and gather your thoughts and then start making a checklist of what you need to do and gather. If you have time to plan, here are some basic tips on how to prepare for a disaster.
Many natural disasters are weather related: hurricanes, snow storms, flooding. Due to the seasonality of some types of weather (snow storms in the winter, hurricanes from June to November), we know the basic times when we need a heightened awareness and preparation.
We live in Florida. At least once a year, we will usually have a hurricane or tropical storm that require emergency preparedness. Because we know hurricane season lasts from June to November, we often start picking up basic supplies in June (i.e. when we grocery shop we add an extra case of water to our cart, extra batteries, etc… so we have them available if a situation happens and we need them).
But emergency and disaster preparedness is not something we should just do in advance of these severe weather situations, we should also have a basic plan and supplies for any emergency.
Note: This list is a basic plan to prepare for a disaster or emergency. This list is not intended to be a complete list of everything you would need in an emergency. These suggestions are meant to help you prepare and give you reminders of the basic supplies you need to gather. You will need to consider your own situation and your family needs and make sure you have everything you need.
Basic Safety First
Where will you go?
In some emergencies or disasters, it may be necessary for you to leave your home. Weather conditions can cause flooding and unsafe conditions in your home. Do you have a plan if it is necessary for you to leave your home? Have a definitive place you will go if you must leave your home and then have 2 backup places in case something prevents you from going to your first safe place (i.e. hotels are booked already, no electricity at mom’s house).
What places could you consider for shelter if your home is not safe? You may be able to go to homes of family and friends, hotels, and community shelters. You also might need to consider places outside your state. For me, we live in Florida. When hurricanes threaten our area, we consider alternate shelter and also do we need to leave the area/state completely.
How will you communicate?
In disasters, it’s possible that normal communication channels may not be available. Phones may not work. Consider alternate communication channels. Could you use Facebook, Twitter and other communication methods to reach family and friends if phones were not available?
What other ways could you communicate if needed?
What basic supplies will you need?
Do you have an emergency supply kit? If not, it’s time to start preparing your emergency supply kit. Unexpected disasters can happen without much warning. You can find yourself in a situation where you have to manage with no electricity, no internet, or no way to get to a store for basic supplies likes food and water.
When you consider the basic supplies you need, consider essential items only. Some items we would like to take with us or have available are “nice to have” but in an emergency, it’s important to focus on what’s essential.
How to Make Your Own Emergency Preparedness Kit
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Food And Water
Start with maintaining least a gallon of drinking water per person per day for at least 3-7 days (unless you know you will need supplies for a longer period of time). Plan ahead because, with major weather situations or natural disasters, it may take several days for rescuers and supplies to reach you.
You also need a food supply. Non-perishable food items you and your family can eat that don’t need to be cooked or prepared are best. Items to consider as emergency food include protein bars, bread or crackers with peanut butter, nuts, and canned goods. Don’t forget to include a manual can opener and utensils in your kit.
You might also include matches if you are planning to build a campfire or cook on your outdoor grill.
First Aid and Medical Supplies
If you or your children need daily medicine, have a plan to ensure you will have a supply of any medicine you will need. You don’t want to be without your prescription medication in an emergency. If you are running low, be sure to have your prescriptions refilled before any known weather events like hurricanes and snow storms.
Stock up as much as you can on basic first aid supplies. You don’t want to risk running out. Put together a basic emergency kit that includes some first aid items so you can treat minor aches, pains, cuts, and scratches. Here are a few items to include in your first aid kit:
- Band aids (multiple sizes) and bandages
- Alcohol wipes or a small bottle of hand sanitizer
- Tylenol or basic pain reliever like Advil
- Gauze, small bandages, and tape
- Baby wipes
Radios, Flashlights & Batteries
During any power outage, one of the first supplies we grab is a flashlight. In your disaster preparedness kit, be sure to include several flashlights and extra packages of batteries.
If possible, include at least one flashlight for each person in the family and extra batteries.
If you have not power, you also won’t have any access to your TV. Keep a battery powered radio with you so you can hear important weather and news updates.
Basic Clothes And Bedding
If you are expecting to leave your home or go to a shelter, be sure to pack basic clothing and bedding. Take a few outfits for each person in your family, but only take what you absolutely need.
An emergency clothing kit might include: few shirts, a few pants, one pair of shoes and a few pieces of underwear. Space in your car will be limited, you must take only what is absolutely necessary.
If you have a baby or small child, remember diapers, wipes and basic baby supplies (but don’t take everything, just the basics you will need).
You might also want to include a small pillow, a sheet, and a blanket especially if your child has a favorite “blankie” or security item.
After you have secured your basic needs for food, water, clothing, and shelter. Consider your communication plan. Communication problems may be one of your biggest concern in an emergency event.
During an emergency, you need to know what’s going on and how you will stay in touch with loved ones. Initially, your cell phone may be your best communication option.
Keep your cell phones and chargers with you during an emergency. If possible, add a back-up power supply or extra batteries for your phones to the emergency kit. Make sure they are fully charged.
You also need a weather radio in your disaster kit and extra batteries are essential. If you save all your phone numbers in your phone (i.e. you don’t memorize phone numbers), keep a written list of your family and friends information including addresses and phone numbers.
Develop a communication plan with your family to let them know you are okay. If cell phones do not work, what other ways can you send messages to each other?
In times of disasters and emergencies, you never know when the supply of gasoline will be limited or if there is no power you may not be able to access gasoline. Part of your emergency and disaster preparation should include keeping your cars and vehicles full of gasoline.
Pet Supplies and More
If you have a pet, you also need to remember basic pet supplies:
- Pet food and supplies (don’t forget cat litter)
- Pet carrier and leash
- Pet vaccination records (required at some shelters)
Babies and toddlers also have extra needs too. Consider including the following your disaster kit:
- Special food/baby formula
- Small toys
- Blanket or security items
This basic disaster preparedness plan will help you begin to prepare an emergency kit and help your family be ready for emergencies and disasters.