Preparing for an Emergency Part 4
As I type this a severe thunderstorm is brewing. Weather is just one of the many things we need to be prepared for. Now that we have covered figuring out what emergencies might happen to you, talking a little bit about different types of emergencies and being prepared for emergencies away from home, it is time to cover being prepared at home. In any type of emergency, I would prefer to be at home to weather it. I am much more prepared to handle anything that might come up when we are all safely at home.
Weather related emergencies can happen any time, but handling them at home is preferable. There are many things you can do to make your time at home much smoother. Power outages are the most common problems when severe weather hits. Make sure you have flashlights in convenient places with plenty of batteries on hand. We keep flashlights in our bedroom, our dining room and our kitchen. Everyone should know where these are. Having a battery operated radio is also essential to get updates on your situation. We have a hand crank radio/flashlight that we love when the power goes out. And cranking the handle gives the kids something to do.
Of course it is good to have your cell phone charged all the time (I am very bad about this) but it is essential if you know severe weather is on the way. For us when the power goes out, we have no phone connection either. Actually we have no water as well. Make sure you know exactly what will and won't work when you have no power. Oh how I wish I had known we would have no water the first time our power went out. We would all have been happier had we been prepared. Because I know this, before I started typing this I filled a bunch of jugs with water in case of an outage.
If tornadoes are a threat in your area then you need to have a safe shelter to go to. Wherever that safe spot is you should have essentials that you will want with you while waiting out the storm. Blankets, pillows, games to play, radio, phone, water, snacks, etc. will make your time in the shelter much more bearable because you could be there for several hours at a time. In some cases you will have advance notice and can grab stuff on your way, but that isn't always possible so if you can have things there permanently it would help.
If you live in a hurricane area get prepared long before you hear a hurricane is headed your way. Every summer and fall I see on the news people preparing for hurricanes and cleaning out the stores of water and plywood, flashlights and batteries. The situation is so much less stressful if you are prepared long before a storm is coming. If you don't already have plywood, go today and buy some. Cut it to fit over your windows and get a box of screws and drill. Then when everyone else is running to the stores and paying a small fortune and scrambling to get their windows covered in time, you can relax and take your time. Have a few cases of water on hand at all times. Have an extra gas can that if filled with gas, so that when you have to evacuate you don't have to wait in line for hours.
You should always have food on hand to get you through an emergency. The "experts" recommend at least a three day supply of food and water (one gallon of water per person and pet per day). I remember being snowed in in Colorado for a week and just a couple of winters ago the snow just kept coming in Colorado. Trucks couldn't get to the grocery stores to deliver food and after a few weeks of constant snowfall many store shelves were bare and they were severely limiting what was left. People think that won't happen anymore, but it did the winter of 2006-2007.
I think everyone should have at least a week's supply of food and water, but ideally much more than that. I have a couple of month's supply of food on hand to cover emergencies like job loss, major medical or car bill, etc. By having a good supply of food on hand you will be able to handle any crisis that comes up, large or small. It is a great comfort to me knowing that whatever happens and no matter how little money we might have, I could still feed my family for a few months. Yes it would get weird by the end, but we wouldn't be hungry. Just make sure whatever food you stock up on you will actually eat.
There are more needs than just food though. Medicines, personal care items and feminine hygiene products are all needed as well. If anyone has special circumstances make sure you have that covered as well. Have breathing masks, tarps, and duct tape on hand too, in case the air is contaminated. You will need some way to cook and stay cool or warm too. There are battery operated fans available and camping stoves and grills will come in handy too. Just make sure you have the proper ventilation.
Being prepared for an emergency at home is the easiest thing to do. It does take planning, thinking and purchasing some items ahead of time and some effort to get ready before the emergency hits - but it is well worth it. If you can be prepared ahead of time, an emergency is much less stressful.