Nobody looks forward to having their life turned sideways by a natural disaster. That’s not going to change, but it doesn’t mean we can’t lessen the dread by knowing how to prepare ourselves and our families. Here’s what you need to know about preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.
Nobody looks forward to having their life turned sideways by a natural disaster. Here’s what you need to know to prepare yourself and your family when faced with the threat of natural disasters.
1. Review Your Evacuation Plans
We say to “review” your plans because you should already have drawn them up, rather than waiting until a superstorm is barreling down on you. Here are the essentials:
- Decide with your family on two secondary locations (a primary plus an alternate) where you’ll travel, together or separately, during an evacuation or after you get separated from one another.
- Name a friend or family member who lives out-of-state as your family’s emergency contact to help make sure everybody can get on the same page when they need to.
- Write out a list of every important contact person and their phone numbers and ensure everybody in your household has a copy in their “go bag.”
Finally — and this is important — don’t take for granted that even your nuclear family has each other’s cell phone numbers memorized.
2. Prepare Your Home
When you’re trying to survive in the wilderness or anyplace else, your first three priorities, in order, are shelter, water, fire (warmth) and food. Ensure your shelter is as ready as it can be by doing the following to prepare:
- Shut off all electricity, water and gas hookups.
- Move everything of value (that you can reasonably move in the time you’ve got) to the highest point of the home.
- If you have doors with bolts at the head and foot, bolt both to lessen the chance of the doors bursting open in a storm. Brace your garage door with supports down the center and along the sides.
If you live in a part of the world that sees frequent storms and disasters, consider upgrading your windows before the next one with impact-rated shutters.
3. Mind Your Landscaping and Hardscaping
It’s important to trim the tree branches and even the larger shrubs that overhang or grow close to your dwelling. Remove older trees that are in dubious states of health.
Familiarize yourself with the slope and grade of the land around your home, too. Work with a landscaper to correct the grade if it appears that the contours of the land could draw water toward your home rather than helping your property shed that water instead.
Ongoing attention to your property will help reduce the chances of flying foliage smashing through your roof or windows and reduce the risk of other types of damage.
4. Know How to Store Water
As we mentioned, water is one of the most important survival priorities, second only to shelter. There’s a right and a wrong way to store water for a disaster, though.
First, ensure you’re using only clean vessels made of stainless-steel or plastic. Clean these beforehand with a mixture of bleach and water, and then rinse them thoroughly before filling them up. Do not keep your water in the same area as stored chemicals or fuels.
Among other useful tips, the U.S. CDC recommends that preppers and homeowners who intend to shelter in place store at least one gallon of water per person (and per pet) for each day you plan to stay. Aim for two weeks’ worth of water. And if you can manage it, store even more.
After Hurricane Harvey flooded and disabled the city of Beaumont, Texas, some 118,000 residents were left without water. Water is earth’s most precious resource, so don’t ever take it for granted.
5. Learn About Basic First Aid
You don’t have to be a field nurse or medic to know basic first response and first aid techniques. In fact, everybody should. If it’s been a while since your Boy Scout or Venturing Crew days, consider taking a remedial first aid class.
You could also read up on the subject (and keep useful informational resources close at hand) with books on emergency response techniques, such as “Ditch Medicine” by Hugh Coffee and “Where There Is No Doctor,” by David Werner.
The Red Cross recommends keeping a well-stocked first aid kit at home and in each of your automobiles. They provide a full list of essential items to include in your kits too, including absorbent compresses, multiple sizes of bandages, emergency blankets, aspirin, nonlatex gloves, breathing barriers, tweezers and more.
6. Store the Right Kinds and Amounts of Food
FEMA maintains that each household should store at least three days’ worth of food in anticipation of a natural disaster. It doesn’t take a huge investment to stock up on essential foodstuffs, including canned meats and vegetables, canned juices, multivitamins, infant food, nuts, dry cereal and crackers.
7. Don’t Put It Off
Maybe the most important tip, and the one most worth closing with, is to not put off your prep work. Nobody enjoys thinking about what could go wrong, but taking the threat seriously right now is likely to save you far worst strife in the future.
About the Author
Emily covers topics in sustainability and green living. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks.
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