Updated: October 22, 2021
Today I’m sharing tips on Emergency preparedness basics…
Just the other day, not far from LA where I live, we had a 3.6 earthquake near Thousand Oaks.
We have emergency supplies kit at home and a small kit in the car – prepared and when times we may need it.
Be prepared for the unplanned! Make sure you have an emergency kit prepared.
Do You Know What Disasters You Should Be Prepared For?
It doesn’t matter where you live, chances are that sooner or later you’ll face some sort of a disaster that will leave you without power, water, or access to buy more. It could be a natural disaster like a hurricane, snow storm, flood, tornado, or earthquake. Or it could be a manmade disaster that has the power grid failing or requires you to stay put in your home for a few days or even weeks. The world can be a harsh place, but there’s something we can do. We can prepare for the disasters most likely to occur in our area.
Your first step in your own disaster preparedness should be to find out what types of emergency situations you need to get ready for. Take a few minutes to review the types of disasters your area is prone to. This is particularly important for natural disaster. If you live in Florida or the South Easter US coast, you should prepare for hurricane season. If you live in the North East or south of the Great Lakes, you should get ready for big snow storms. If you’re in the Mid-West, or South West, chances are you’ll come across a tornado or two. In California, you may prepare for earthquakes.
Do You Have A Family Emergency Plan?
We have seen and heard about a lot of natural and man-made disasters recently. Some of them were on the news, while others may have hit a little closer to home. If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to come up with a family emergency plan. If you already have one in place, take a few minutes to review it and make sure everything is still up to date and ready to use.
Step 1 – Be Aware Of The Emergencies You May Be Facing
Start by figuring out and making a list of the natural emergencies and disasters you may be facing in your area. Preparing for a tornado is very different from preparing for a hurricane, an earthquake, or a major snowstorm. Be aware of the types of emergencies you may encounter and then read up on how to best prepare for each of them. This information will become the basis for your family emergency plan.
Step 2 – Find A Safe Spot In The House
If you are going to wait out a disaster or emergency in your home, it’s a good time to find a designated safe spot. When the unexpected hits, you don’t want to get overwhelmed and make a bad decision under stress. Think about the safest place now and make sure everyone in your household is aware of what and where that safe spot is. You can even stash a little emergency kit with a flashlight, emergency radio, and a bit of food and water in the spot just in case. How and where that place is will vary from home to home and emergency to emergency. Refer to your list and research from step one to make an educated decision.
Step 3 – Declare A Safe Meeting Spot Should You Be Required To Leave
Some natural disasters and man-made emergencies will require you to evacuate. It’s a good idea to come up with safe meeting spots well ahead of time. Meeting up with a relative who lives further inland for example is a good plan when a hurricane is approaching.
Decide on a meeting spot and make sure each family member, including your children, knows where to meet up. You never know when disaster strikes and who may be where. If your kids are staying over a friend’s house or are at school, you want to make sure they know where to meet up with you if there is no way of getting them before you leave.
Step 4 – Keep Emergency Contact Info On You At All Times
Speaking of getting separated in an emergency, you never know what may happen, so it’s a good idea to keep contact info on you at all times. This should include any and all cell phone numbers of immediate family, along with landline numbers for friends or relatives who live further away and who may be able to act as intermediaries.
It’s also a good idea to exchange email addresses. Make sure you use web-based emails that can be accessed from anywhere. During the hours after 9/11 it was almost impossible to make a phone call. Email became a way to communicate with phone lines overloaded. Text messaging may be another option when calls don’t go through.
Step 5 – Food, Water, And Medical Provisions
Last but not least it’s good to have some emergency rations on hand. Keep enough clean water, food, and any medication you may need around to last for a few days. By then emergency personal should hopefully have gotten to you. Again, the types of supplies and how long you should provision for will vary from family to family and emergency to emergency. Do what you can to be prepared.
Keeping Important Documents Safe and Secure
We hope and pray that nothing will happen to our home, but it’s a good idea to be prepared “just in case”. You likely have insurance on your home and many material things in your house can be easily replaced should disaster strike. Other things like photos and important documents can be hard or impossible to replace. Missing documents can make it harder to rebuild after disaster strikes. That’s why it is a good idea to keep them safe and secure.
Invest In A Fire Safe
A good fire safe will survive a lot of damage. Invest in a quality one for any documents you want to keep at home. You can get a fairly small box that can be stashed away in a closet or cabinet. Make sure both you and your spouse know where the safe is kept and has a key to open it.
Get A Bank Deposit Box
You may also want to rent a bank deposit box and store important documents, or notarized copies of them there. This will come in handy when you need the information on the documents (i.e. your insurance policy number), or you need to replace documents that didn’t survive a home emergency.
Make Physical Copies
It’s amazing how much easier it is to get a replacement passport or birth certificate if you have a copy of the original. That’s why it’s helpful to make these paper copies and keep them in a secure offsite location (like a bank deposit box). You could also keep them at a family member’s home. Make sure the copies are stored safely to avoid issues like identity theft.
Make Digital Copies And Store Them Online
Last but not least, go ahead and scan the documents or take pictures of them with your phone and store them on a secure online server. Places like Deposit Box, or even Google Photo will store quite a bit of information for you free of charge. Since your document scans are living in the cloud, you can easily access them from anywhere with your phone or a borrowed computer. This also makes it easy to email them off to insurance agents, or government officials to get replacement documents made.
Spend a little time this week to sort through your most important documents and get your paperwork in order. It won’t take you long to scan them, take pictures of them, and/or make photo copies. The little work you’re doing now to be prepared will potentially safe you a lot of headache down the road.
Make it a point to revisit your documents every 6 months to make sure everything is up to date and in order. Once the original setup is done, it will be much easier to keep up with it. You’ll likely only need to change out one or two document copies a year.
Do you have a basic emergency kit? Governments around the world are encouraging their citizens to be prepared in light of more frequent disasters, both natural and man-made. Your basic kit creating A Basic Emergency Kit ould include everything you need to ensure your survival for several days or until help arrives.
One of the first things that will get you into trouble in any type of disaster or emergency is dehydration. Make sure you have safe drinking water for several days stored. A good alternative or addition is a small water filtration system you can use on unsafe water sources to extend drinking water.
Food and Accessories
Next, it’s good to have at least some emergency food rations. This is particularly important if you have small children, pregnant or nursing women, elderly, or anyone with diabetes or low blood sugar in your family. They can make it even fewer days or hours with food than you can. Keep some easy, ready to eat food on hand like granola bars, nuts, and canned foods. Make sure you have any tools or accessories you need to open the food containers and utensils to eat with.
Focus on food items that won’t perish quickly and that can be eaten cold in a pinch. Chances are power will be out and you’ll have no way to cook or heat the food you’ll be eating.
Radio, Flash Light, and Cellphone
Next, let’s talk about small electronics, or electric, hand-cranked devices. You want to be able to get the information you need and see where you’re going. A good flashlight with long battery life is a must, as is a small weather radio. This can be battery operated or hand-cranked. If you’re using battery operated devices having a spare set of batteries in your kit is always a good idea.
Last but not least, when disaster strikes, grab your phone and charger, if possible. You want to be able to get in touch with loved once as soon as possible.
First Aid Kit
A small first aid kit that includes bandages, alcohol wipes, Band-Aids, scissors, and some basic pain meds is another must have. Make sure it also includes any medication you take regularly. If you have family members with severe allergies, antihistamines, or even an epi-pen may be an important and potentially life-saving addition.
There are various tools that may come in handy in an emergency. A good knife is a must and can come in handy in a variety of different ways. A wrench or pair of pliers is handy if you need to turn of utilities in an emergency. Last but not least, consider adding a whistle and flashing light or emergency flares to your tool kit so you are able to alert rescuers to your location.
Be Prepared For Natural Disasters In Your Area
Natural disasters appear in all parts of the world, and no matter where you live, chances are that you will encounter several of them throughout your lifetime. Depending on where you live, they may happen, or at least threaten your home much more frequently. It’s easy to see why it is important to be prepared for them.
The first thing you need to know is what type of emergencies and disasters you can expect in your area. We can all be affected by fire and winter storms that shut down roads and power are likely across the country as well. From there it depends on where you live. Your town may be prone to flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoon, earthquakes, and the likes. Do your homework, watch the news, talk to your neighbors and figure out what natural disasters you should prepare for. A great source for information is your local government, particularly emergency services. Many will not only be able to make you aware of any dangers, but also have brochures, plans, and other resources that will help you prepare for any eventuality.
Once you know what natural disasters you can expect where you live, it’s time to learn how to best respond to them. Will you likely wait things out in your home, or will you be required to evacuate? Are there emergency shelters or evacuation routes you should be aware of?
Once you have the basics down, figure out a plan for securing your home, yard, and vehicles depending on the disaster. What can you do to make sure your property has the best possible chance to come out of the disaster undamaged? If you’re in an area prone to flooding, having sandbags on hand can be invaluable. Again, what you need will greatly depend on where you live and what natural disaster you can expect.
Having a good emergency kit that includes food, water, medication, first aid kit, flashlight, radio, and a few tools is a good idea. Every household should have a kit that’s kept in good order and is easy to reach in an emergency.
Make sure you are aware of the potential threats as early as possible so you can prepare. Set up alerts on your phone, sign up for local emergency preparedness emails, and keep an eye on the news and social media if you think there is a potential for a disaster. The earlier you know the better you can react and prepare. Listen to local authorities and don’t hesitate to evacuate should the need arise. Things can be replaced, people can’t.
Food and Water Storage In Case Of Emergency
When disaster strikes it may take some time for rescue personnel to get to you. If there are large power outages because of damaged power lines and the likes, it could be quite some time before you are able to hit the grocery store again. For those times, it is crucial to have enough food and water stored to get through the tough times.
Access to clean drinking water should be your first priority. Keep a supply of at least one gallon of water per family member per day on hand. At the very minimum, you want to have a 3 day supply on hand along with a water filtration system that allows you to turn unsafe or potentially contaminated water sources into drinking water. While water has a fairly long shelf-life, it’s a good idea to replace it regularly. Use the water as needed throughout your regular family life and replace it with fresh water. Keeping a few clean plastic or glass gallon jugs around and regularly refilling them with fresh water is a good idea. You can use the unused emergency drinking water to water plants or cook with.
Next, it’s time to think about food. FEMA recommends a supply to last for up to two weeks if you’re preparing for a natural disaster. At first glance, this may seem like a lot of food, but most of it should consist of items you use regularly. Consider building up a well-stocked pantry and storing additional food supplies in your freezer. You will continue to use these foods and replenish them, working on the first in, first out system. Dry rice, canned or dry beans, and various canned goods are good staple items with long shelf lives to keep around.
If two weeks’ worth of food sounds too overwhelming or isn’t possible because you simply don’t have the room to store the food, start building up a supply that will last you three to five days. Hopefully, emergency services will be able to reach you by then with basic water and food rations.
When disaster strikes and the power goes out, you want to start by consuming any fresh food in the fridge. Start eating anything that you know will spoil quickly. Don’t open your freezer at this point. Food will safely stay frozen and cold in a closed freezer for at least 3 days. Once you’ve consumed everything from your fridge, start eating what’s in the freezer. Save shelf-stable foods for last.
It is also helpful to have tools and strategies in place to cook food during a power outage. Camping and grilling gear will come in very handy here. Make sure you have all the supplies you need and your equipment is in good condition. Don’t forget about pots, pans, and other cooking utensils you may need. As a last resort, the things you picked up in your Boy Scout or Girl Scout days about cooking over a fire may come in handy as well.
Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Tips
If you live on the coast in an area that is prone to hurricanes it’s important to be prepared and to keep an eye on the weather forecast, particularly during hurricane season. If you’re new to the area, or if a rare hurricane is heading your way, here are some important tips to help you prepare and stay safe.
Know When A Storm Is Approaching
It’s impossible to be prepared if you don’t know what’s coming and when. In this day and age, it is easy to stay alert to any severe weather threats including hurricanes. Hurricanes have the added benefit of being one of the very few natural disasters that we can see coming from a long way off. Set up severe weather alerts on your phone, watch the news, or keep up with the National Hurricane Center website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Secure Your Property
Hurricanes bring a lot of rain and strong winds with them. Use the time you have before the storm reaches you to secure your property. Bring in things like patio furniture or grills that should be thrown around and possibly into a window by the storms.
Before hurricane season starts, it may also be a good idea to evaluate any trees on your property and have them cut back or cut down if needed. If you’re prone to flooding having a few sandbags around to keep water from entering your home may also be a good idea.
Prepare To Ride It Out
If you plan on riding out the storm at home and have not been asked to evacuate, make sure you are prepared to lose power and be stuck at home for several days. Make sure you have plenty of clean drinking water and food stored. It helps to have food that’s ready to eat if the power goes out and you can’t cook outside because of the weather. In other words, stock up on some canned goods and things like crackers, peanut butter, and bread. Keep a battery operated weather radio handy so you can continue to monitor the situation.
Evacuate If Needed – The Earlier The Better
If you are asked to evacuate, don’t hesitate to pack up and head out. Things can be replaced, people can’t. The earlier you leave the better. You don’t want to be stuck in a lot of traffic with a huge storm at your back.
Make sure you know your evacuation routes well ahead of time and have alternate routes planned as well. Head to a shelter if you must. These places quickly get crowded though, so if you have alternative options like staying with a family member or friend, take advantage of them.
Have Emergency Contact Information Handy
Create emergency contact information including numbers for the local police department and emergency services, your insurance company, doctors, and of course all family members. Having these numbers with you will come in handy when you have to leave at the spur of the moment. Don’t rely on electronic devices. Power may be out and a good old fashioned index card with important numbers on it will come in handy.
Snow Storm Emergency Preparedness Tips
If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow during the winter months, you know how important it is to prepare for big snowstorms ahead of time. You may find yourself stuck at home, or worse in your car for long periods of time during a snow storm. The heavy snow can cause trees or large branches to fall and cut power lines. Here’s what you should do to make sure you’re not caught unaware by a blizzard.
Winterize Your Home And Car
At the beginning of the cold season make sure both your home and your car are ready for winter. Put on winter tires, fill up the antifreeze and stock your car with a shovel, sand, snow tires, a warm blanket, and a bit of water and food. Make sure your home is well insulated, your heating is in good working order, and you have an ample supply of heating fuel.
Keeping some emergency water and food rations along with a battery operated weather radio and plenty of ways to stay warm is also a good idea. If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, stock up on firewood as well.
Pay Attention To Weather Forecasts
The good thing about winter storms these days is that meteorologists have gotten pretty good at predicting them well in advance. This gives you plenty of time to stock up on some supplies, get home safely and hunker down to wait out the storm. Watch weather forecasts regularly throughout the colder months and set up storm alerts on your phone to give you plenty of time to prepare.
If you know a storm is coming, avoid traveling, particularly on the road. Waiting out a blizzard in your car is not a lot of fun and you may be stuck and trapped for hours if not days. Cancel travel plans and do what you can to get home before conditions get too bad.
If you do have to travel during a storm, make sure your gas tank is full and your car is well stocked with winter emergency supplies. Check on road conditions before you head out and pull over if things get too bad. You should also have a charged phone with you to call for help if you get stuck in a storm drift.
Stock Up On Food, Water, And Heating Fuel
When there’s a lot of snow or an ice storm in the forecast, stock up on food, drinking water, and heating fuel. Have a plan for heating and preparing food if the power goes out. Having plenty of flashlights and candles is also a good idea. Wait out the storm and don’t be tempted to head out to clear off the roof. Should you fall and get hurt, emergency services may have no way of reaching you.
Dealing With Long Power Outages
One of the big problems in this day and age during a natural disaster is prolonged power outages. No matter where you live, or what kinds of emergencies you should expect to deal with, it’s a good idea to think about and plan for long periods of times when you have to function without power.
Alternative Sources Of Power
If you can prepare for the power outage, start by making sure your phone and all mobile devices are fully charged. Now is also a good time to stock up on batteries, invest in a small battery operated power bank, and consider buying a generator.
Candles and wood-burning stoves or fireplaces are other great alternative power sources that will provide light, warmth, and in the case of a fire place or stove a way to warm up and even cook food.
Having several flashlights and spare batteries is always a good idea. You should also keep a small, battery powered radio on hand to keep up with news and weather forecasts throughout the power outage.
If you have a generator make sure you know how to use, have plenty of fuel for the generator and always – ALWAYS – run it outside.
Keeping And Preparing Food Without Electricity
If you are dealing with a power outage of only a few hours, simply keep your fridge closed and you should be fine. If it lasts longer than that, start eating perishable foods in the fridge first. Cook what you can on a grill or camping stove and toss the rest.
Keep your freezer completely closed and if possible insulate it further by throwing large blankets or comforters over the freezer. Start thawing, cooking, and consuming food from the freezer once you’re running out of fresh food options. Open the freezer as little as possible to keep cold air trapped inside and the food fresh for longer.
You can cook and grill outside with your charcoal or gas grill. If you have camping gear, get out the propane stove and cook on it. If neither one of those are an option, cooking over a small fire is always an option. Do all of your cooking outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or causing an indoor fire.
Staying Warm or Cool Without Power
Keeping warm or cool without power can be a major concern in long power outages. Insulating your home ahead of time can make a big difference. Close shutters and curtains to trap in heat or cool air for as long as possible. Take advantage of the sunshine and outside temperatures during the day or night to regulate the temperature inside. Dress appropriately by either snuggling up under several warm layers and a big blanket or wearing as little as possible. Keeping a breeze going can help during hot weather. In either case make sure you get plenty of fluids (either warm or as cool as you can get it), and aim for plenty of calories in your food if you’re in the cold.
Basic Survival Skills Anyone Should Have
No matter what emergency or natural disaster you find yourself in, there are a few basic survival skills anyone should have. Read through the list, mark off what you have mastered and if needed have supplies for and then work on the rest. Acquiring these few basic skills will come in handy throughout your lifetime.
Finding And Purifying Water
One of your first tasks should you find yourself in an emergency situation is to find a clean source of water. It’s surprising how often this becomes an issue with large storms, power outages and the likes.
If you know a natural disaster is heading your way, store at least one gallon of drinking water per person for a minimum of 3 days. It is also a good idea to invest in a small water purifier and learn how to use it. Be aware of natural sources of water you can tap into around your home, should running water stop working.
Make A Fire
Another great skill to have is being able to build a fire. Fire can provide warmth, light, and you can cook over it. Think back on your scouting days, or watch a YouTube video and start practicing. Making a fire isn’t hard, but it is a skill that should be learned.
From there you can expand and experiment with different ways to generate a flame without a match or lighter or get good at making even wet wood burn.
Building A Shelter
Hopefully, you won’t run into a situation where you have to build shelter because you are out in the woods, or because your home was destroyed. Just in case it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few different ways to build a shelter using materials that are common in your area. Start with simple shelters using string and a tarp, and then move into more involved skills that use only materials found in nature like sticks, branches, trees, leaves, and the likes.
Learn First Aid
If severe weather hits your area, chances are high that you or a loved one will get hurt by flying debris and the likes. Learn the basics of first aid acquire a good first aid kit and learn how to use each item in your kit. This will help you care for yourself of your family until medical help arrives.
Finding And Preparing Food
Having basic food supplies on hand before a storm or other natural disaster hits is always a good idea. Stock up on plenty of ready-to-eat foods and make sure you have the means to open cans, scoop out food, and if possible, heat and cook things as needed.
Next, you may want to familiarize yourself with the edible foods in your area and where to find them. Chances you’ll need to rely on your foraging skills for survival are slim, but it’s a fun exercise and it will give you and your family something to do while you wait or help to arrive.
Signaling For Help
Speaking of help… make sure you know how to signal for help without your cell phone and have some basic supplies. At the very least you want a flashlight and a mirror. Markers, tape and other things you can use to spell out messages say on the roof of your home can also come in handy.
Acquire and practice these skills and you’ll be well on your way to surviving when disaster strikes. Of course, most of these skills will also come in handy on your next camping trip.
Stay safe, stay amazing,