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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. By getting 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. You don't want to be in line at the grocery store during an emergency, fighting over dwindling supplies.

The most important aspect of general preparedness is water storage. Clean drinking water is vital to your survival, and nearly any disaster can either harm the water supply or make it impossible for you to obtain clean water. Start with a three-day collection at minimum, and add more, as you're able, to prepare for more prolonged emergencies. Outside of emergency water storage, stocking up on food, and medication, also put together a checklist and plan to use in an emergency.

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A Prepper's Guide to Water Storage

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    Floods

    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 because oftentimes, floods contaminate the water supply and make it nearly impossible to get to a store for bottled water.

    Earthquakes

    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. Those who live in an area prone to earthquakes should secure heavy furniture, such as shelving, 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.

    Hurricanes

    In general, people expect hurricanes days or 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.

    Tornados

    A storm with the potential for tornado activity strikes fear in the heart, yet with the right supplies you can increase the chances of keeping 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

    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. 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.

    Frozen pipes damage water lines, making water storage essential.

    Stay on top of the weather, including understanding terms, to best prepare your family and home for a blizzard.

    Fires

    These days you hear about a major fire spreading almost every week during the summer months in the Western United States. A small brush fire turns into a raging wildfire in what can seem like 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 (aka bug-out bag) 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.