Basic Emergency Preparations

With Hurricane Matthew approaching the east coast, many families are having to evacuate their homes and head for higher ground. Although most of us out west don’t have to worry about hurricanes, this storm is a reminder that we need to prepare our families for other natural disasters and emergencies. Many of our folks live far away from the ocean, but everyone knows that while inland states may not have the same coastal dangers, they can still get extreme weather including flooding, severe thunder storms, tornadoes, etc. Not only that, but blizzard season is coming up, bringing with it power outages, dangerous driving conditions, and more. Read on to figure out how to prepare your home for disasters and emergencies.

Have an Emergency/Disaster Kit

Emergency kits are a must in every household; emergencies, by definition, don’t usually announce themselves. You won’t always have time to run to the store and grab what your family will need in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Kits should have enough supplies to last your family for 72 hours. Many people keep one at home, at work, and in their cars. Stock it with supplies to see you and your family through days where you may not have basic utilities or services such as power, water, telephones and gas. Disaster kits should be easy to grab and easy to carry in case you need to quickly leave your home. Make sure every member of the household knows where to find yours.

Kits should include the following:

  • water (one gallon per person per day for 3 days)
  • three days non-perishable food
  • battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • flashlights
  • first aid kit
  • whistle
  • moist towelettes, garbage bags (personal sanitation)
  • tools for utilities
  • maps
  • cell phone with chargers
  • medications
  • pet supplies
  • cash
  • important family documents such as insurance policies, IDs, bank account records
  • blankets
  • all weather clothing
  • sturdy shoes
  • waterproof matches
  • feminine supplies, personal hygiene
  • mess kits
  • paper and pencil
  • activities for children

See more suggestions for emergency supplies here.

Make a Family Emergency Plan

It’s important to establish how your family will contact each other. When a natural disaster happens, chances are not everyone will be in one place; mom and dad might be at work, the kids at school, the baby at daycare. Make sure you kids know how they will contact you in an emergency. You may want to assign an out-of-state family friend for every family member to contact in case you can’t contact each other.

Don’t wait until disaster strikes to figure out how your family will handle it. Teach everyone how to turn off basic utilities. You can even assign a family member to do this important job and assign a backup in case they’re not there. Make sure every member of the family knows the procedure for floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters. Outline escape routes for every room in the house and establish a meeting place. In school they make you do fire and storm drills even when there’s blue skies outside. Likewise, you should prepare your family on what to do in the event of an emergency.

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Plan for Pets

Many people don’t think about what to do with their pets or livestock in the event of a natural disaster or emergency. As a tragic result, some pets don’t make it through disasters and even more are displaced and exposed to dangerous conditions. After hurricane Katrina over 200,000 pets were displaced from their homes. Don’t let it happen to your four-legged family member!

First off, get your pet micro-chipped. Also consider putting a Rescue Alert Sticker on your front door to help rescue workers know there are pets in your home in need of help. You can order these stickers free from the ASPCA website. If you evacuate with your pets, make sure to write “evacuated” over your sticker.

Don’t leave your pets behind in the event of an evacuation. If it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for them either. Make travelling arrangements beforehand; have pet carriers, food, water, and leashes ready and accessible. Call around to see if local shelters allow pets or if there are emergency foster shelters for pets nearby. You may have to contact a friend in a safe area and have your pets stay with them.

For people with livestock, taking care of your animals is trickier, especially if they’re out to pasture. Always be aware of weather conditions in your area and have a safe place provided to move your livestock to if need be. Arrange trailers and travelling provisions beforehand and make sure your equipment is in good order. Don’t leave things up to chance when it comes to your pets and livestock.

Follow Directions

Keep up-to-date on news in your area by using a hand-crank or battery radio. Follow directions in emergency alerts and from local law enforcement. Don’t ignore road blocks and warning signs — they’re there for a reason!

If you follow directions and prepare your family, natural disasters and emergencies don’t have to be so disastrous. Remember, make a plan, have a kit, and follow directions!

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