When disaster strikes, it’s best to already have your emergency preparedness plan at hand. After all, where will you buy food, water and gas for your vehicles when the system breaks down? Many people live in areas where this type of problem seems to be an unlikely fantasy out of a fiction novel, but what most people don’t understand is that local disasters can and will affect you and your family every bit as seriously as a global pandemic or any of the unlikely scenarios we see in silly movies such as 2012.
Consider the lessons we have learned from Hurricane Katrina. Hundreds of thousands of citizens were caught unaware. With the disaster striking at the end of the month, many did not have enough gas in their tanks to drive away, food in their pantries to get by or medicine that they depended on to survive. The result was thousands of refugees packed into a stadium and left to die. Many were surprised that the government did not have an effective response prepared for the public, but those who know better were not.
The most important lesson that we as a nation can take away from this sad scenario is that we have only ourselves to depend on when the system breaks down. So be prepared, always. Top off your gas tank when it gets down below half full. Always have a three month supply of your most essential medications. Have plenty of easily prepared meals that are easy to store and carry. Have serviceable clothing for all seasons. Most importantly, have a great relationship with your neighbors. You’ll never know when you need each other.
In addition to common sense preparedness tips, there are last minute things that you can do when you hear the news that disaster is about to strike your area. Keep this checklist handy where you can find it should the worst happen.
- Have a place for your family to meet should you lose communication, and make sure every member is capable of reaching this meeting place.
- Have your contacts written down on paper. When your phone battery runs out, you won’t be able to look them up.
- Make sure you have all critical documents such as ID, marriage and birth certificates, passports and property titles available.
- Throw a couple of containers of water in the freezer to make some quick ice.
- Make sure flashlights are serviceable, extra batteries are easy to find and candles with lighters or matches are readily accessible before it gets dark.
- Take a shower and put on sturdy clothes that are appropriate for the weather, including serviceable shoes or boots.
- If you have long hair, tie it back.
- Put your work gloves where you can grab them quickly. You will need them.
- Put a lighter and pocket knife or better, a Swiss knife in your pocket.
- Know where to turn off the electric, gas and water to your home.
- Assemble all first aid supplies in a backpack.
- Have books, non-electronic games and entertainment available to keep kids calm.
- If you are leaving your home, take a paper map, plan your main route and two alternatives.
- Have n95 masks and hand sanitizer available. They aren’t just handy in a pandemic. The masks will help keep dangerous asbestos, building debris and biological debris from your lungs during the aftermath of fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
- For hurricanes, board up your windows if possible.
- Many people recommend that you fill your bathtub with water, but most quickly find that this is unsanitary. Here is an emergency drinking water storage kit that you can buy on Amazon. It stores 100 gallons of clean, fresh, usable water in your bathtub and costs only $20.