Severe weather conditions can arise with little warning. So, natural disaster preparedness is the key to surviving these emergency situations. We all hope it never happens, but it’s always a possibility, right?
Postponing your planning until danger is near can put you and your family at risk. But, having a plan in place can help ensure safety and provide peace of mind should disaster strike.
Natural disasters can come in many forms, depending on where you live:
Some areas are more prone than others to certain severe weather conditions. But, no area is completely disaster exempt. No matter how low the likelihood, it could still happen. And, if it’s a possibility, then it’s wise to prepare!
Recent Natural Disasters
The number of natural disasters is increasing at an alarming rate. It seems almost weekly a state of emergency is being declared somewhere. Even areas that were considered low risk are now experiencing extreme weather or wildfires.
The recent earthquake in New Zealand left the seaside town of Kaikoura completely cut off and isolated. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated by helicopter, but bad weather slowed rescue efforts. Families were left without access to supplies or outside help.
The Louisiana flood in January, 2016 hit so fast that residents had little time to prepare. Thousands of people lost their homes and had to flee to safety. Many were without power for days.
Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines in 2013, killing 6000 people and leaving more than 3.6 million homeless. Roads were washed out. Water and sanitation systems were destroyed. Families were living in temporary shelters and depending on relief goods just to survive. Something as basic as clean water became an invaluable commodity.
Recent wildfires in Alberta, Canada, led to a mass evacuation of Fort McMurray. People were rushing to pack up valuables, fill their gas tanks, and find the quickest route to safety.
Unfortunately, disaster can strike at anytime. You can’t always control the outcome, but being prepared can help minimize the impact. Simple things like having extra food, bottled water, first aid supplies, or an escape plan can make all the difference.
Don’t wait until danger is imminent. Start building your natural disaster preparedness plan now. That way, if an emergency arises, you’ll be ready.
Natural Disaster Preparedness Tips
- Make an Emergency Family Plan. Gather everyone in your household together and discuss what to do in a disaster situation. Map out escape routes from your home. Create alternate plans if certain family members aren’t home (work, school, daycare, etc.). Assign responsibilities to each person, such as turning off gas lines, grabbing emergency kits, or gathering pets. It is also a good idea to have regular family meetings to review your plan and make changes as needed.
- Know What Disasters Could Affect Your Area. Some areas are more prone than others to certain disasters. Coastal communities are at a greater risk for tsunamis or hurricanes. Earthquakes are more likely along major fault lines. And, wildfires can ravage through forested areas. Be aware of the risks for your community. Learn about the emergency procedures for your city or county. Ask about evacuation routes and find out where shelters are located.
- Know the Alert Signals For Your Area. How will you be informed of impending danger or evacuations? Will there be a phone call, warning sirens, or radio announcements? Social media can be a great communication network. But, keep in mind that the internet may not work during a disaster. It is a good idea to have an alternate method of receiving information in case one system fails. Evacuations happen more often than you may think, so find out what warning methods are used in your community.
- Build Emergency Kits. Whether you are sheltering-in or evacuating, these kits are very important to the survival and well-being or your family. It is recommended that you have at least three days of basic supplies for everyone in your household. This includes things like canned goods, water, first aid kit, and battery powered flashlights. And, don’t forget a kit for your car! This is especially important if you will be using your vehicle as a means of evacuation or for temporary shelter.
- Remember Those With Special Needs or Considerations. The elderly, the sick, people with disabilities, or infants may require special medication, food, or equipment. Pack extra cans of formula or baby supplies in your emergency kit. Keep medication where it can be gathered quickly. And, have a checklist to make sure you take important items such as infant seats or mobility aids.
- Keep Emergency Building Materials On Hand. Depending on the potential disaster risks for your area, it is a good idea to keep things like sandbags, plywood, tarps, or straps readily accessible. This way, you can minimize damage or loss by protecting glass windows, building fire or water barriers, and securing any items that may blow away.
- Have An Emergency Financial Plan. In the event of a disaster, banks may be closed and you may not have access to online systems. Having some cash on hand can be helpful. It is also a good idea to have an emergency fund in place and extra copies of important documents in case the originals are damaged due to flood or fire.
- Establish a Communication System. Unfortunately, disasters do not always happen when everyone is at home, safe and sound. As a family, choose a location where everyone can meet. This can be a shelter, a park, or any familiar landmark. Make sure everyone knows who to call, whether that be a family member, the authorities, or a shelter. And, don’t forget to choose an out of town contact person who can let family and friends know that you are okay. If they hear about the disaster on the news, they will probably be worried!
- Have an Emergency Preparedness Plan For Your Pets. Not all evacuation shelters allow pets, so you may need to make alternate plans. Find out where emergency animal shelters are located. Keep food, supplies, and up-to-date vet records in your disaster kit. It is also a good idea to have your pet micro-chipped in case you happen to get separated. Anyone finding your pet will have all the information they need to ensure a happy reunion.
- Learn Emergency Skills. Basic first aid or CPR is always helpful. Depending on the severity of the disaster, it could be several days before rescue or relief teams can reach you. Having some medical supplies, and knowing how to use them could be crucial.
- Keep Your Gas Tank Full. During a disaster, gas stations may be closed. So, you really don’t want the fuel indicator light to come on as you are heading to the evacuation route.
Natural Disaster Survival
No, you can’t control the weather. No, you can’t always predict when disaster will come calling. BUT, you can be as prepared as possible. Preparedness makes you stronger. It makes you more resilient. And, it increases your chances of survival.