Emergency Preparedness Tips
Emergency preparedness is a multifaceted endeavor requiring careful planning and plenty of work and supplies, none of which can be done in the 15 minutes before disaster strikes. Prepare yourself as well as your home and family with updates and supplies, and research which disasters are most likely in your area. Outside of basic supplies, emergency water storage is essential in disasters. Nearly any catastrophic event can hurt the water supply and limit your ability to obtain clean drinking water. In addition to drinking water, water storage for cleaning and hygiene is also essential.
Certain disasters strike without a moment's notice, while others are predicated days or weeks in advance. By being prepared now, you'll avoid the rush to stock up when disaster is imminent, and protect your family in cases where there's little to no warning. The most important aspect of general preparedness is water storage, as nearly any disaster can either harm the water supply or make it impossible for you to obtain clean water. Start with a three day supply at minimum, and add more, as you're able, to prepare for longer emergencies. Outside of emergency water storage, stock up on food and other supplies, such as medication, and put together a checklist and plan to use in the event of emergency.
Being prepared for a flood is essential in emergency preparedness, especially if you live in a flood zone. Prevent costly damage by storing valuables and important documents in a water-tight safe on the second or higher story of your home. Ready your property with sandbag barriers when a flood is imminent, and consider constructing a permanent barrier to protect your home's foundation. Water storage is especially important when preparing for a flood; oftentimes, floods contaminate the water supply and make it nearly impossible to get to a store for bottled water.
Earthquakes are one of the few disasters that truly strike with no notice: one minute you're going about your day and the next the ground is moving underneath your feet. When you live in an area prone to earthquakes, you should secure heavy furniture to the walls. If possible, place textured mats underneath valuable knick-knacks to prevent shifting. Damage from earthquakes may crack water lines and harm the water supply, both of which can take days to repair. If you live in an earthquake zone, you should up your water storage to at least five days for your entire family, including your pets.
In general, people expect hurricanes weeks in advance, yet you can never quite tell exactly how much damage a storm will cause until it arrives. What looks to be relatively mild on the radar may still wreak havoc, damaging your home, making it impossible to obtain supplies, and harming the water supply. Be ready by protecting your foundation with storm bags and keeping at least three days' worth of food and water in stock. Have supplies on hand that will allow you to go without electricity for several days: the gusty winds common with hurricanes have a knack for knocking down power lines. When coupled with nasty weather, technicians may not be able to restore power for a while.
A storm with the potential for tornado activity strikes fear in the heart, yet with the right supplies you can keep your home and family safe. Put together an emergency preparedness plan, including provisions for emergency water storage and enough food to last for a few days. Batteries and lighting are essential in a tornado, as power outages are commonplace. As a part of your plan, note where you and your family will go if a tornado is in the area: a basement, storm cellar, or an enclosed room in the interior portion of your home is ideal. List nearby storm shelters as well to create a well-rounded plan.
Blizzards bring with them a unique set of problems when it comes to disaster preparedness. While losing power during a summer storm is certainly inconvenient, losing power in the winter can be deadly. Keep a fueled heat source on hand along with plenty of blankets, thick socks, and other warm gear. Frozen pipes damage lines, making water storage essential. Canned foods and shelf-stable items that don't require cooking are best to have on hand, but a small propane-camp stove heats up items well. Stay on top of the weather, including understanding terms, to best prepare your family and home for a blizzard.
A small brush fire turns into a raging wildfire in seemingly an instant, and the damage to your home, family, and property is debilitating. Keep your home in good repair by removing brush and dried wood, cleaning out gutters, and keeping fire extinguishers on hand. Add extra to your water storage; even if the fire doesn't get close enough for you to leave, extra drinking water is essential when a raging fire is nearby. Pack a "go kit" for each member of your family as a part of your emergency preparedness plan. In the event of an evacuation, grab these and vacate as quickly as possible, leaving home defense to the professionals. As part of your emergency preparedness plan, know where the closest lakes or other large bodies of water are located. In emergencies, these are the best places to be when a full evacuation isn't possible.