Disasters can happen at any time, and without warning. It is always a good idea to be prepared for the worst. Disaster preparedness is being ready for any catastrophe, natural or man-made, that may come along, and knowing how to react in the case of an emergency.
Disaster preparedness isn’t difficult. With a little common sense and some careful planning, it is possible to be prepared for almost anything. The first thing to do is to understand which disasters are the most likely to happen in your area. Will they require evacuation, or will you be able -- or even forced -- to stay home? If evacuation is likely, have several safe places planned ahead of time where you and your family can stay. If it is likely that you will be able to stay home, consider what you will need to survive without heat, running water, and electricity.
Disaster survival kits are an essential part of disaster preparedness. Smaller kits can be left in the car, while larger kits should be located in an easy-to-access part of the home. These kits should contain several changes of clothes for each person, personal supplies, such as shampoo, soap, and toothbrushes, and warm blankets. Also included should be a fully stocked first aid kit and several flashlights. A battery-powered radio is another necessity.
Make copies of birth certificates, social security cards, licenses, and insurance cards, and place them into a waterproof container to keep them safe. A sealable plastic snack bag works well for this. Included in this bag should be enough cash for you to survive off for several days or weeks. Don’t assume that you will be able to stop at a bank on your way out of town. It may also be a good idea to pack a few games, books, or other small activities to keep yourself and your family occupied and entertained.
A disaster preparedness kit should also contain food. This is especially important when seeking shelter in your own home. There should be one gallon of water per person for each day you may be without clean running water. Most experts recommend being prepared for two weeks, at least. There should also be plenty of extra water available, just in case. Non-perishable food that does not require preparation should be set aside for disasters. This might include granola bars, jerky, canned goods, and dried fruits and vegetables. Dried milk, cereal, cookies and crackers are also good things to have stocked up. Vitamins should also be available, especially for children and pregnant or nursing mothers.
In a situation where the power has gone out, and you will be staying at home, eat food from the fridge before food from the freezer. Save stockpiled food for last. Don’t forget family pets when preparing for a disaster. Food, water, and other supplies should be stocked up and set aside with the food for the family, along with any leashes or pet carriers you might need for evacuation purposes.
Invest time and thought into disaster preparedness. In addition to being well-stocked, it is always a good idea to know how to defrost frozen pipes, turn off electricity and gas supplies, and treat contaminated water. While being prepared won’t prevent a disaster, it can help you and your family survive in relative comfort.