In the wake of last year's hurricanes, big storms and Japan's earthquakes, being ready for disasters is a great idea that hasn't fully hit trend status yet. It's about time to think about what you and your family needs to survive for a few days and create a disaster plan.
No one wants to think about bad things, but it's smart to be prepared. Here are a few tips:
-In case of a fire, disaster or other emergency, set up a family meetup place outside your home. Prioritize saving people over all else. Check in with your neighbors as well. You may need to work with them to help others. Consider if someone needs to cross a river or lake to get home.
-Have a friend or relative who lives outside of your area designated as a call contact, if your family is split up when the disaster occurs and you cannot contact your family because of downed lines and jammed cell towers, you may be able to relay news to that person.
-Have a first aid kit, emergency blankets, clothing and modest supply of food and water handy outside your home or very easily accessible to grab on your way out if you have time. A small weatherproof storage vault or shed outside the home may be the best solution. Use a combination lock, not a key in case that gets lost.
-Your emergency kit should have at least enough food and fresh water to feed your family for 72 hours. Include supplies for your pets, and any medications. Check on your kit periodically, or rotate the food through your pantry so the kit won't go out of date.
Costco sells a very extensive collection of ready-made kits with food, water and other supplies. Many come in convenient and portable bins. Buy a small kit and use it while camping or test at home before really stocking up, so you know how to get the packages open and what you need to prepare the food. Include any of those necessities in your own kit as well. This one, shown in the white bucket, is for two people and is regularly priced at around $80, but it is food and a filter only, no water or first aid supplies. So make sure you know what's in the kit you buy.
-Build your 72 hour kit first, with food and tap water or whatever you have on hand now, then you can refine it or add on. A month supply would be better, but only if you can afford it and have room to store it all. Additional supplies could be kept at a secondary location. You may still need to boil or filter water even if you have it stored for safe drinking.
-Practice your escape routes and routines. Keep in mind, you will probably not have the luxury of evacuating on a beautiful sunny day. It's more likely to be cold and rainy and at night.
-Designate one person in charge of rounding up the pets, though it's a good idea to have a priority system if that person is not home or is hurt. If you have many pets, split up the chores. Just make sure there is no duplication of efforts and everyone knows their job.
For additional information, visit the readiness site maintained by FEMA, www.ready.gov. FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency arm of the United States government.
Be safe and be prepared.
Until next time!
Photos courtesy of Costco.