What are Some Steps I can Take to Prepare my Home for Disaster?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Depending on where in the world you live, your home might be at risk of earthquake, fire, flooding, hurricane, tornado, tsunami, or other natural disasters. By making disaster plans with your family, you increase the chances that you will survive with the materials you need to subsist while waiting for rescue or escaping to a safer place. In most areas where a particular type of natural disaster is a common risk, local emergency authorities can provide you with additional help with disaster plans and sometimes even small survival kits, so make sure to ask the local police or fire department about disaster planning.

Many homes in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.
Many homes in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.

The key to escaping and surviving a disaster is planning ahead and remaining organized. Start by making disaster plans with the people in your life: make sure that all family members know what to do in the case of a disaster whether it is a fire, earthquake, or mandatory evacuation. Set up a central meeting place, or several, so that if you are separated, you can find each other. Also make disaster plans for your household pets: find out if a neighbor is willing to cooperate with you on disaster plans, perhaps exchanging keys with you so that if one of you is unable to get home during an emergency, the other can extract household pets and keep them safe for you until you are able to collect them.

A disaster kit should contain non-perishable snacks, like chips.
A disaster kit should contain non-perishable snacks, like chips.

It is also important to think about supplies when making disaster plans, and you should have basic kits for your home and all personal vehicles which include needed supplies for all family members, including pets. At the most basic, a kit should include plentiful water stored in sturdy containers, three days of non-perishable food for people and pets, a first aid kit which includes medications needed by all family members, bedding, sanitation supplies, and basic tools.

A first aid kit should be included as part of disaster supplies.
A first aid kit should be included as part of disaster supplies.

Basic tools include a wrench, hammer, paper and pencil, needle and thread, foil, matches, tape, compasses, pliers, batteries, a radio, flashlights, maps, and cooking supplies. For small pets, you may want to consider keeping Evacsacks for quick evacuation, rather than bulky carriers. Store fold down carriers in your vehicles so that you can transfer your animals to roomier quarters when it is safe. It is also an excellent idea to maintain copies of important documents like identifications, bank account information, and deeds to houses and vehicles, along with recent photographs of family members and pets.

Prescription medications should be kept on hand in case a disaster occurs.
Prescription medications should be kept on hand in case a disaster occurs.

In many areas, there are also city or state wide disaster plans which include evacuation plans and disaster preparedness education. Get acquainted with these plans so that you know where to take individuals in need of evacuation and you know which hospitals and roads are most likely to be open. Mark up a map of the area with available shelters and locations likely to be open to assist you: if you have pets, find out which shelters accept animals as well as people, or if a local animal rescue organization can assist you in an emergency situation.

Just like medication, feminine products should be included in a disaster survival kit.
Just like medication, feminine products should be included in a disaster survival kit.

In the event of a disaster, stay calm and stick to your disaster plans. Try to keep family members together, and make sure to leave notes at your home and meeting sites to help you find each other. While losing your home or needing to evacuate can be stressful, assistance is available whether you are a victim of a single home fire or a catastrophic earthquake. Work together with your friends and neighbors as a team to support and help each other, and you will survive to tell the epic story in years to come.

Having a non-electric can opener will be helpful if there is a power outage.
Having a non-electric can opener will be helpful if there is a power outage.
Stocking up on bottled water and other pantry food items is an important preparation step when planning your home for disaster.
Stocking up on bottled water and other pantry food items is an important preparation step when planning your home for disaster.
A disaster kit should include safety pins.
A disaster kit should include safety pins.
A tornado can be devastating and deadly, so it's best to be prepared.
A tornado can be devastating and deadly, so it's best to be prepared.
Make sure that you have at least three days' worth of non-perishable food for any pets.
Make sure that you have at least three days' worth of non-perishable food for any pets.
Flashlight should be tested frequently to make sure their batteries still work.
Flashlight should be tested frequently to make sure their batteries still work.
Homes can be modified and inspected to ensure they can withstand the shakes of an earthquake.
Homes can be modified and inspected to ensure they can withstand the shakes of an earthquake.
Sandbags can be used to build temporary barriers during flooding.
Sandbags can be used to build temporary barriers during flooding.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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