Contemplating a natural disaster may not be fun, but it can grant you tremendous peace of mind should a disaster strike. Having a plan is the best way to protect yourself and your family. Accordingly, it makes sense to plan ahead by doing a little bit of preparing for the worst.
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1. Know Your Region
Some regions of the world are susceptible to tsunamis while others are more likely to see earthquakes. Still other areas might be subject to tornadoes or hurricanes. Knowing what types of natural disasters you are likely to encounter is the first step to being prepared. Your preparations may vary slightly depending upon whether you are more vulnerable to forest fires or floods. However, the basic needs for food, clothing, shelter and medical supplies will apply regardless of the type of emergency.
2. Learn CPR and Basic First Aid
Many local organizations provide free or low cost training for CPR and first aid. You’ll learn how to clean wounds and place bandages in addition to how to provide life saving CPR. Even when no natural disaster is imminent, these skills can save a life. These classes do not require a lot of time, but the dividends they may pay in the future are immeasurable.
3. Plan for Communication
When disaster strikes, your family members may be scattered in several different places. Designate a relative who lives outside of the local area to be the contact that every family member will attempt to reach in the event of an emergency. While local telephone lines may be affected by the disaster, long distance lines may not. It may also be beneficial to use pay telephones to communicate, as these are often repaired first in the aftermath of a disaster. Cell phones can be indispensable as long as local towers have not sustained too much damage. Keep a working cell phone and a charger with you at all times.
4. Designate a Meeting Place
Choose a place that is close to home, but not inside the structure. Make certain that every family member knows the address and can find the location from any direction. Also, establish a second meeting place that is outside of your neighborhood in case it isn’t possible to enter the area. Inform caregivers and babysitters of the details of your meeting spot.
5. Be Prepared to Evacuate
Families should have a plan for evacuating their home should this ever be necessary. Establish escape routes and then practice using them. Ensure that windows are not nailed or painted shut and know how to turn off electricity, water or gas from the main switches. Homes with multiple levels should be equipped with escape ladders.
6. Have an Emergency Kit
The kit should include at least one or two gallons of water for each person per day. Non-perishable food and a mechanical can opener are essential. Keep a simple barbecue unit on hand with appropriate fuel, matches and utensils. Emergency blankets, a tent and sleeping bags can provide warmth and shelter. A first aid kit, flashlights and a battery powered radio are necessities. Sanitation and hygiene items like toothbrushes and toilet paper and important personal documents can also be included.
7. Prepare Pets
Keep vaccination records handy and be sure to pack food and blankets to protect pets. An extra supply of pet medications can be kept with your family’s prescriptions.
8. Make Your Car Disaster Ready
Having a small emergency kit in your car makes it easy to evacuate quickly. If a disaster seems likely, make sure that the gas tank is full and keep it that way. A fuel can with extra gas can prevent an emergency in the wake of disaster.
9. Be Ready at Work
Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes from your office and keep a small emergency kit there as well. Also, be aware of where to find fire extinguishers and AEDs inside the building.
10. Create Emergency Contact Cards
The cards should easily fit in pockets, wallets and purses. They should contain phone numbers to call in emergencies, the address of meeting places and other helpful information. When disaster strikes, it can be difficult to clearly recall these details.