You don’t want to think about what could happen if a natural disaster or another emergency threatens your family because it’s terrifying. That’s understandable, but a little preparation goes a long way if you should find yourself in danger. There are things you can do now to increase your family’s safety in an emergency.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
It’s important to have an emergency kit you can grab quickly. Some prepare a kit in a duffle bag, backpack or suitcase — whatever you choose, just make sure it is large enough to hold supplies and closes, so the items stay inside.
You should include a first-aid kit, flashlights with batteries, a battery-powered radio, cash and backup batteries for cell phones. Fully stock your first aid kit with necessary supplies, a first-aid manual, prescription medicines for people and any pets and personal hygiene products.
Remember to include food and water to last for about three days for your whole family. And don’t forget food and water for pets, too. It may be easier to have a large pack of bottled water with your emergency kit, so there is plenty of water for the family. You should plan on using a gallon of water per person — or animal — per day.
As far as food goes, you want nonperishable items you could potentially cook over a fire or eat without heating. Some canned food goods are fine, but don’t forget to include a can opener and utensils. In case you can safely make a fire, have matches stored in a waterproof container.
Create an Emergency Plan
An emergency plan details what your family will do if disaster strikes and you aren’t all together. It doesn’t sound like a big deal now, but when you are wondering where your spouse is, you will be thankful you have it.
It’s also a good idea to include instructions on what you should do to take cover or protect yourself in each event — including tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. — and local evacuation shelter information.
You should have a plan for any disasters that could take place in or outside of the home. Any family member who has a cell phone should sign up for emergency alerts as well. Once you’ve made your plan, make sure everyone has a copy and that you practice it often.
It’s important to have an out-of-town contact you can make arrangements with if you can leave the area where the disaster is going to strike. Make sure you are familiar with your town’s emergency routes. If you can’t stay out-of-town with a relative or friend, be familiar with hotels you could stay in if you can leave the area safely.
Prepare Your Home: Windows, Power, and Gas
How you prepare your home for an emergency depends on the type of urgency. Hopefully, you will have enough warning should the risk be a flood, hurricane, earthquake or tornado. In these cases, by focusing on preparing your home ahead of time, you can reduce the risk to your family.
Your windows are an area for concern with tornados and hurricanes. When a tornado is coming, you should move your furniture away from the windows and board them up. By nailing boards over your windows, you reduce the chances of high winds and flying objects wreaking havoc on your home.
With a hurricane, you need to either have hurricane shutters installed or marine plywood boards nailed over your windows. If you are in a hurricane-prone area, you should invest in hurricane-proof windows that will stand up to the storm better than standard windows.
When a tornado is imminent, it’s best to shut off power using your home or office’s circuit breaker. By turning off all the circuits, you reduce the risk of electrical damage to your home or business and electrocution to individuals should a tornado or storm leave wires exposed.
If you have to leave your home for a flood, you should turn off the power before you evacuate. If you’re able to stay in your home safely, turn off the power if there are fallen power lines or standing water.
If you have an earthquake warning, you should turn off the power as well.
Both tornados and earthquakes can cause pipes to break and increase the risk of a gas leak or even a fire, so you should turn off the gas at your meter if possible. If you are in danger of a wildfire, you should take care to shut off the gas to your home before you leave, so no explosion occurs if the fire reaches your home.
By taking the time to prepare your home and your family for an emergency situation, you greatly increase everyone’s safety. Prepare your emergency kit, talk with your family and know how to prepare your home so if the unthinkable should happen, you can protect your family. Begin your preparations today to reduce your worry tomorrow.