It seems like we’re constantly hearing of one natural disaster after another, from earthquakes and landslides to hurricanes and floods. How do you keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the face of natural disasters? Today we’ll learn how to stay informed and prepared without getting overwhelmed.
The most important thing you need for any disaster preparedness situation is your brain. Yeah, you thought I was going to say water, huh? Nope. Without the ability to think ahead and pay attention to what is going on around you, listen to warnings, and use good sense you’re a gone goose.
Have a ‘go bag’ with 3 days worth of basic supplies that can keep you alive (now this is where the water comes in!). A lot of times we think that’s all just for the doomsday preppers, but unexpected things happen, so staying prepared is essential. It’s not being morbid or a boy scout to take care of yourself.
Try doing a search on your phone with your local city or county name and ‘disaster preparedness’ or ’emergency alert’. That should get you tuned into what’s available locally to keep you informed.
Check for your local law or fire departments on Twitter, and sometimes there are local groups on Facebook for your area to let you know what’s going on. There are apps with emergency alerts and updates and even just local gossip and ‘what was that siren all about’ situations as well. Most emergency services that really affect you are county based, rather than city, state or federal, so know what county you are in. That said, larger cities have their own set of services and jurisdiction. A local chamber of commerce can help with essential services, as will the local library. Librarians are awesome, they know everything, and if they don’t they know how to look it up. It’s what they do.
National and International Resources
Since it is the official start of the hurricane season, there is the National Hurricane Center site at NOAA, where you can track everything going on everywhere.
Pacific Disaster Center even has an app for global up to the minute tracking of all manner of natural events. FEMA also has an app with multiple disaster types. The CDC, or Centers for Disease Control also has an excellent resource telling you how to prepare and what to do during and after nearly every kind of disaster that may affect you.
If you want an in-depth guide on emergency preparedness, check the Homeland Security site, ready.gov.
There is also an absolute plethora of disaster prepper and survivalist sites, which can be fascinating, if not a little overwhelming. That’s the problem, though, it is overwhelming so we sometimes just don’t start because we think it’s a big job and we don’t want to deal with it, so …
Here’s Where To Start:
- Stay Informed of local news and events.
- Have Cash, even if it’s a change jar in the closet. When the power goes out and phone lines go down there’s no credit or debit readers. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.
- Keep your gas tank at least half-full, not on empty. When the power goes out gas pumps won’t work either, and lord knows there’s always a hundred mile line of cranky people waiting for fuel and getting in fights. Avoid that noise..
- Keep some snacks like granola bars and water in the car, as well as a roll of TP and a blanket or sleeping bag, feminine needs, and some first aid supplies. Speaking of feminine napkins or tampons, they make good bandages for a bad wound. A few little things like this can make all the difference even if you’re stuck behind a wreck on the freeway.
- Have fresh batteries for flashlights, and an extra for your cell phone.
- Talk with loved ones about where to meet and where you’ll go.
- Have at least one out-of-state contact or number to call for everyone to check in. Sometimes you can call out-of-state when you can’t get hold of anyone locally, oddly enough.
- Back up and digitize all your important data, documents and photos online, as well as having copies in a safe place. Losing your family pictures is the worst part of losing your home. It’s like your whole history just disappeared. Flickr has a whole terabyte available for free, and your pictures can stay private if you wish.
- Keep some walking shoes, socks, and comfortable clothes in the car. (And Mom said clean undies!) You don’t want to be like that goofy woman in Jurassic World running around in heels being chased by dinosaurs (why didn’t she kick those things off, really??). Lousy shoes will kill you.
- EVACUATE WHEN YOU ARE TOLD TO!!
This is by no means exhaustive, it’s just something to get you thinking with your brain.
Whether you are the hero who saves the day or the dummy in his underwear calling ‘is anybody there’ is up to you. The ability to MacGyver your way through any mess starts with your noggin well before you’re involved in an emergency. Learn at least the basics of first aid and think your way through some worst case scenarios, then plan ahead for what is realistic in your area so you don’t get caught completely off-guard. You will be surprised what you can do when you set your mind to it.
Have you ever experienced an emergency or disaster? What helped you get through? What would you like others to know?