How to Prepare for Natural Disasters

Hurricane season may be winding down, but unfortunately natural disasters don’t take a vacation.  In these past few weeks hurricanes, earthquakes and senseless acts of violence have left paths of destruction around the world, reminding us to value and protect the life we have. Although we cannot prepare for everything, we can take steps to prepare your family and home in case of natural disasters. The following steps will help your family create an action plan before the next natural disaster strikes.

1. Prepare your Mind for Natural Disasters

emergency broadcast system by Pipe Loyola M (CC BY 2.0)
emergency broadcast system by Pipe Loyola M (CC BY 2.0)

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and not think clearly during a natural disaster. Take time to prepare mentally beforehand and create an action plan when you are collected. Research what kind of natural disasters are common in your area. For example if you live in Southern California, you know  the next ‘big one’ or big earthquake may strike anywhere along the San Andreas fault. Consider whether your home  is safe in case of an emergency and make a list of changes that need to be made. Check smoke detectors, remove fire hazards, old trees or anything that might cause damage. Talk with your kids and family members about the possibility of a natural disasters and how to stay calm by working together.

2. Emergency Contacts

Hurricane Harvey Flooding - 8/26/17 to ? by jillccarlson (CC BY 2.0)
Hurricane Harvey Flooding – 8/26/17 to ? by jillccarlson (CC BY 2.0)

During natural disasters it’s normal for cell phones usually lose service, power can go out and you probably won’t have access to internet. Take the time to write down the phone numbers or contact information of your important family and friends on an emergency contact sheet. Add numbers for your doctors, local police station, poison control, fire fighters, local emergency services to your contact sheet. You might research local shelters or what out of town relatives you can stay with in case of serious damage occurs to your home.

3. Emergency Action Plan

Natural disasters can strike without warning, especially in the case of a fire or earthquake, that’s why it’s imperative that your family make and rehearse an emergency escape plan. Know your exits and set up a meeting point away from dangers. Have a few practice sessions walking through the plan. Plan ahead for your elderly parents, infirmed loved ones, children or pets that may need assistance during an emergency.

4. Emergency Supplies

20170922-OSEC-LSC-0301 by USDAgov ()
20170922-OSEC-LSC-0301 by USDAgov ()

In some cases authorities might cut water and power during a natural disaster. It’s recommended to store and annually update your emergency supplies. Add a reminder to your calendar to change them out before the expiration date. Keep on hand enough canned or dried food for three days as well as three gallons of water per person. It’s also a good idea to keep your fuel tank always at least half full in case you have to drive out of the area. Prepare a “Grab and Go-Bag” or emergency bag that has nonperishable survival supplies such as:

  • ID papers- keep copies of passport, driver’s license and other important documents in a sealed waterproof bag.
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags
  • Change of warm clothes, water resistant lightweight jacket and sturdy shoes
  • Flashlight and spare batteries, radio (battery or windup) and glow sticks.
  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Eating utensils, can opener, pocket tool set, and waterproof matches, mini sewing kit.
  • Dust masks, waterproof tape, and plastic tarp for shelter
  • Toothbrushes, soap, towels, hand sanitizer and toilet paper
  • Child-care supplies and special-needs items for seniors or the disabled
  • List of emergency contacts and meeting places and a local map
  • Credit cards and emergency cash
  • Extra set of house keys and car keys
  • Paper, pencils, books, and games for children
  • Food and medicine for any pets
Emergency pack by tagawa (CC BY 2.0)
Emergency pack by tagawa (CC BY 2.0)

Your emergency go bag should be placed near an emergency exit and kept up to date. Remember to switch out food or medications before they expire. Some supplies may vary depending on the needs of the family. Natural disasters can be scary but when you are prepared you can jump into action and have a better chance of surviving. What emergency preparations tips have you put into action? Share your tips in the comments section below.