The idea of emergency preparedness is good. But having an idea is not good enough. Every person—every family—needs a plan in the event of a disaster that could disrupt the ordinary course of life. But where to start? That’s where most of us get stuck for lack of useful, specific direction. The following quick tips will do the trick to get you unstuck and on your way to disaster-ready.
1. Water Storage
You don’t have to live in hurricane country tem or near a busy freight train rail systo get prepared. Disasters can hit anywhere. This means water could be in short supply. Make sure you have ample bottled drinking water in your home for immediate needs.
For longer outages, consider you will need additional/water for flushing toilets and showers. One way to do this is with 30 to 45-gallon garbage cans with those larger heavy-duty contractor plastic trash bags, available at home improvement stores. Line the cans with bags, then fill the garbage cans with water and apply their tight-fitting lids.
Most people forget that three weeks without electricity means three weeks of no water if their water utility provider has not attached a generator to pump water to houses.
2. Point Person
Identify a friend or relative who lives in another state to be the “disaster point person” for your family. Then keep that person’s phone number and contact information with you at all times. Add this contact to every person’s phone. Instruct all of your family members (and let the point person know, too!) to call this person to check in with their location and conditions if you become separated when disaster hits.
Added protection: Decide on a code word each person knows. Make this your family’s verbal passcode. This way you can ask anyone “what’s the code?” to make sure you are not speaking with an imposter or other type of evil attempting to scam you to your lovedone.
3. Important Papers
One of the most critical tips for emergency preparedness is to think ahead. So scan your family’s important documents—birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, insurance policies, property deeds, car titles, immunization records, pet medical records, school transcripts, business licenses, education degrees, and tax returns.
Next, burn (copy) those files onto two DVDs or thumb drives. Keep one in a safe place and have a trusted friend or relative in a different state (your point person) keep the other.
4. Emergency Cash
You need to have some of your Contingency Fund (emergency fund) in small denominations of cash―$1,000 is reasonable, but any amount is better than having none. Store it in a safe place outside your bank—like a fireproof home safe or another similarly protected receptacle known only to you and one other person.
In the event of a disaster that cripples utilities and services, banks will be closed. ATM machines will be down because they run on electricity. You will definitely want to have cash on hand.
5. Build a Go Bag
Every household needs a Go Bag. This collection of items you may need to be disaster-ready if an event forces you and your family to become self-sufficient when all services are cut off.
Because you may need to evacuate with little notice, your Go Bag must be packed in an easy-to-carry container like a suitcase on wheels. Additionally, have each family member keep a backpack containing enough basic supplies for 72 hours, packed and ready to go.
Another (see above) good solar power bank that you keep charged with cables and adapters for your smartphone(s) is essential. Keep this in your Go Bag. The last thing you want to think about is finding these essential items at a moment’s notice.
Make sure your Go Bag includes an excellent first-aid kit that is well-stocked with your emergency supplies. If you take prescription medications, talk with your doctor about acquiring an extra amount for your Go Bag, which you regularly rotate so that your emergency supply of meds is not expired.
6. Full Tank
Keep your cars’ fuel tanks more full than empty. Make that a new habit. If you are required to evacuate, you won’t be the only one. Your entire community will be in the same situation.
If your vehicle’s fuel tank is regularly “almost empty,” you’ll be stuck in a very long line—assuming any filling stations are still in operation.
For true emergency preparedness, make a new rule that your car’s fuel indicator never falls below 1/2 full. It’s just as easy to keep the top half of that tank full as the bottom half.
7. Trunk Kit
Store a sweatsuit, sneakers, and old socks in the car’s trunk next to the spare tire. If there’s a flat tire, throw the sweats over your good clothes. If the car breaks down, the sneakers will feel better walking to the nearest service station. Being disaster-ready means you can change that tire without worrying about getting dirty.
Additionally, make sure you are always carrying specific emergency items in your car, including but not necessarily limited to:
- first aid kit
- another good solar power bank that you keep charged with cables and adapters for your phone(s).
- unscented pillar candle and lighter (a lit candle can keep a car’s interior warm enough to survive, just make sure you keep a window or door open slightly while the candle is lit).
- energy bars
- bottles of water
Check out Ready.gov for more information and terrific resources.
Not a very good Scrabble approach, but an excellent philosophy for life!
Expanded, Updated , Republished: 3-13-23