The news recent months has been full of stories about natural disasters, (fires throughout the Southwest, tornadoes in the Midwest, and hurricanes and floods in the South) Hurricane Sandy left us all wondering whether we would be prepared if a disaster hit closer to home. Here are few ideas to help you prepare yourself for these unlikely events—and for getting back to “life as normal” once a disaster is past.
Plan for the possibility you may have to evacuate your home. Write down valuable information (evacuation route maps, important phone numbers, doctors contact information, medications you are taking, etc.) and store them in a disaster kit. Store important documents safely and where you can easily grab them. Place copies in a secure place such as a safe deposit box or with a relative who lives farther away. Examples of documents should include insurance policies, social security card, prescriptions, emergency cash, and a home inventory. A home inventory should include serial numbers and receipts of big cost items. If you can make a video of each room, put that together with a list in your disaster kit as well. Always store a copy somewhere away from your home.
Identify the risks of each member in your home. What will need to be considered to evacuate? Will access to certain medical attention be necessary? Do you need to depend on refrigeration for special dietary concerns or medication or electricity for medical equipment? Identify what you will need and make arrangements ahead of time and then record this in your plan and place it with the disaster kit.
Set up your support network. Never hesitate to ask for help. Discuss what you will need and the roles of each so that expectations are clearly defined. Put contact information in the disaster kit. When a crisis strikes and you have little time to react, you will be glad you took the time to develop this list as you may forget some details.
Make a plan for your pets. Can they accompany you to a shelter or hotel? Assemble a pet disaster kit that includes a leash, food, medications, medical and vaccine records.
While not all devastating occurrences can be predicted (earthquakes for one), preparation is important in the event of a disaster. It alleviates undue worry and helps people bounce back sooner.
Have you ever been through a storm or natural disaster that has left your home without power? What did you do?