Emergency Preperation: What Every Person Needs for All Types of Emergencies
Are you ready for a disaster?
A tornado touched down in Brooklyn this month!
There are all kinds of emergencies and disasters. There are natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and earthquakes. There are terrorism emergencies like Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center. There are family emergencies like sudden illness or loss of employment. There are other emergencies like power outages, fuel availability, transportation strikes, bridges collapsing, and more. Love Canal, Three Mile Island, New Orleans...
There is nothing you can do to prevent these things. But there are 4 basic preparation categories you can and should consider to best be prepared in time of disaster:
- Household Items
- Point Person
This won't cost a huge amount of money, won't take up too much space in your home, and might actually be fun to organize with your kids.
There are a few simple tricks to keeping an emergency food stash on hand. Consider non-perishable foods to be this staple. I always keep a healthy amount of canned soups, canned tuna and chicken, canned vegetables & beans and canned fruits on hand. I could easily eat for a couple of weeks if we were ever cut off from being able to access stores for any reason. Whether it be because I broke a leg or caught a major flu, because of delivery strikes, no gas, community disasters, or emergency weather conditions, I could live in my house for a couple of weeks without a problem.
We only buy foods we like. We eat tuna, canned asparagus, canned kidney beans, Campbell's Tomato Soup, and Dole Mandarin Orange slices. Keeping a couple dozen cans of each on hand isn't hard. Every shopping trip I just buy a few extra until the stash is built up. I rotate stock always making sure to use the oldest one first. I have a large pantry where I can keep this, but basement storage would work too.
Water is obviously a staple you need. Buying the gallon sized or larger is most cost effective and these containers can easily be stored in your home. Some people just hate to buy water. Fine: then buy some 10 gallon buckets or something that can seal and stay safe and use your own tap water. Every month or so rotate it out - use the water for bathing, gardening or washing, and refill the container to store.
Dry goods are also an essential especially when you're in a power outage. Crackers, cold cereal, and powdered milk are great to have on hand and it's easy to keep a dozen extra boxes in your pantry.
Easily prepared food like pasta, oatmeal and rice are next on your food list. A couple of extra boxes of each can get you through a housebound emergency.
HOUSEHOLD SUPPLIES -
These are just smart to have in the house and you know it:
Non-electric manual can opener
Rolls of Plastic for windows
Ziplock baggies and Aluminum Foil
Rubber soled shoes - you never know when you have to walk through broken glass, water, or unclean areas. Even the showers at an evacuation center would count as possibly unclean.
Paper Goods - Paper towels, toilet paper, etc
If you live in an area that is inclined to certain types of disaster, like blizzards or hurricanes, prepare by keeping on hand the things you use when this situation sets in. Extra firewood, wood and nails to board up windows, sandbags... you know what you need. Don't wait until everyone is buying out your local Lowe's.
EVACUATION READINESS -
From Florida hurricane residents to Delaware River flood victims in Matamoras PA, people get evacuated. It could be just for a few days as is probably the case with a major gas leak, or it could be weeks or even longer like the forest fire evacuations in Malibu and other areas west. Do you know what you would do? If you were forced to leave your home what would you take?
Don't wait until panic sets in and you have 5 minutes to get out of the house. Instead, take one night while you and your husband are sitting there watching Entourage to simply make a list. That's all. Just make a list. Adrian Grenier will forgive you.
If anyone in the family takes any medications, put those on the list first. It doesn't go without saying. Write it down. Don't assume you will think with a clear head during the chaos. Also, remember it may be another member of your family trying to pull things together, so this list is for them just as much as you. Now, back to those meds. It's always smart to have as much of a supply as you are allowed to keep on hand in case of emergency. Extra eye glasses or contacts, nasal spray, allergy meds or any drugstore items you use regularly should be listed. Also a small first aid kit would be smart.
Your cellphone with chargers, your laptop with charger, and any other means you have to acquire news and to communicate with loved ones.
You know you'll need your wallet or purse (driver's license, credit cards, cash, keys.) Remember to also add your fireproof important paper box. What? You don't have a little fireproof box where you keep your most important papers? Hmm. Maybe you should get one. If not, make sure you remember to grab - your phone book, insurance papers and information, medical records, passport, social security cards, marriage license, dog licenses and rabies vaccine certificates and any other papers you would not be able to replace, or documents you'll need in order to enter an evacuation center.
It would be smart to keep some photos with these papers. In case during evacuation you are separated from family, it is best to have a photo with you to show authorities, of the person that is missing.
Your normal shaving kit/overnight bag is necessary. Soap, shampoo, toothbrush, deodorant... the things you need when going anyplace. If you are being evacuated with your own car and have a little room, take some towels and blankets.
Think about this - you're traveling. In an evacuation, you are essentially traveling. And you have no idea how long you will be on the road or in your car. Add a travel bag to your list, containing a good road atlas, a couple of comfortable changes of clothes, shoes you can walk in, a manual can opener, a few roles of paper towels and toilet paper, paper and pen for taking down instructions. Candles and matches. Garbage bags. Of course you'll want to take water and food, as much as you can fit.
If you're evacuating with pets, you'll need their leashes, carriers, or crates. Even if you believe your pet is well behaved, it may be a requirement at a motel you wind up at, or at an evacuation center. And it may protect them from other animals.
If you have one and can fit it, a tool box. Especially necessary would be anything that you'd need to fix your car. Ratchets, electrical tape, fix-a-flat... you get the idea. Add that to your list.
You don't have to "do" anything or "buy" anything to be prepared for an evacuation. All I'm suggesting is that you and your family make a list of the things you'd really need. If there ever was an evacuation all you need to do is grab the list and start packing. It is a great stress reliever in times of crisis not to have to think about it all for the very first time.
A POINT PERSON -
Think about all the people that were separated and desperately seeking to find each other in Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the tidal wave/ tsunami that wiped out Indonesia and Sri Lanka. A simple plan for contact would have helped many of these people.
This is easy. And it only takes a few minutes of prep time for your entire family.
Pick a person that does not live with you or near you to be a point of contact in case of emergency. That's it!
Ideally this should be someone that will probably not be subject to the same disasters, evacuations, and emergencies as you and your family. It's best if this is also someone you probably will not be vacationing with. For example, if you live on the east coast, a cousin or friend on the west coast is the perfect choice.
Make sure everyone has this person's phone number memorized. You can do it, you can memorize one phone number, just in case something happens to your cell phone or wallet. Make sure your kids know it too.
That's it. If you and your family are ever separated during an evacuation or disaster, you all know to call this person. They can keep track of everyone and tell you exactly who in your family has called and where they are and how to reach them. This person doesn't have to do anything but answer the phone and write down messages. So instead of searching frantically and calling everyone, you know exactly who to call first and what to do.
Friends of mine do this on road trips all the time. One time, their son wandered off at a rest stop. OK, this doesn't qualify for an emergency, but it demonstrates the point. The boy realized he was lost, couldn't find his family or where they had parked, so he went to a payphone and made a collect call to his grandmother (their point person) 2000 miles away.
My friend's cell phone rang seconds later. "Your son is standing in front of the ladies room at McDonald's underneath the payphones."
This time, this rule turned out to be kind of funny. But if that had been a disaster, the rule could have saved this boy's life.
Being prepared is being smart.
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All text is original content by Veronica.
All photos are used with permission. All videos are used courtesy of Youtube.