If a natural disaster strikes, do you know what to do? Depending on your area, you can be at risk for an earthquake, hurricane or storm. It’s best to prepare your home and family before disaster strikes. Here’s what you can do.
- Assess you home’s location. What natural disaster is most likely to occur in your area? If you live in California, you should prepare for earthquakes whereas people in the Midwest should be prepared for tornadoes. During the winter season, stock up on items you’ll need in case you get snowed in a storm (including lots of things to keep you warm).
- Prepare the structure of your home for likely emergencies in your area. If you are in an earthquake prone area, your home should be bolted to the ground and the water heater should be strapped. Secure bookcases so these don’t topple over. Install storm windows in your home if you are in a storm or tornado belt. Have a working fire extinguisher in your home.
- Prepare an emergency kit. Your basic emergency kit should have a first aid kit, flashlight with batteries, non perishable food, bottles of water, matches and candles, blankets, alcohol, cash, utility knife and large trash bags which can double to protect against rain and insulation for warmth. You may also add clothes, socks and shoes for all family members and some basic toiletries, Include diapers and baby food if you have an infant. This should be placed in an accessible area in your home such as the hall closet or basement.
- Fill your pantry with non-perishable food items such as nuts, energy bars, cereals and cup noodles. If you have canned goods, make sure you have a manual can opener. Have a few gallons of drinking water as well.
- Always have exit routes clear. Doors and hallways should be clear of clutter to allow for a quick exit in case of an emergency. If you live in a high rise, know where the stairwell exits are and never use the elevator in an emergency. If your bedroom is on the second floor, have an escape fire ladder stored under your bed.
- Practice an emergency drill with your family. In case of an earthquake or fire, everyone should know what to do.
- Be prepared for loss of power. Storms can knock out power lines. Earthquakes can also cause cities to shut down gas and power. If you have a rechargeable lamp, make sure it’s always powered up. Purchase solar flashlights or wind up flashlights with a radio and have it handy. Credit cards and ATM machines won’t work if there are no phone lines or power so have some cash on hand.
- Get insured. Protect your home with adequate coverage. Know the limits of your coverage and make sure your home’s replacement value is properly set. You may need to get special insurance for certain perils such as flood or earthquake. If a disaster does strike, at least you know you have the means to rebuild and replace.
- Listen and follow evacuation instructions. If your local government orders an evacuation due to an impending storm, it’s best to heed their advice. We have the technology to predict the onset of certain disasters such as storms so we can prepare in advance.
If the worst occurs, stay calm. If you are physically and mentally prepared, you will see yourself through any emergency and disaster.