Emergency Preparedness Tips

Written By: MJ Logan

Hurricane Disaster. A couple stands amidst the wreckage of their home and neighborhood after Hurricane Andrew
The devastation following a major Hurricane can leave people homeless without access to food or water.

Hurricane Preparedness Articles

Emergencies never happen on a schedule. Unless it's a hurricane forming off the African Coast or east of the Caribbean, they don't give much warning. Tornadoes strike just minutes after they form. Accurate earthquake prediction remains a mystery. Blizzards and ice storms give a little more warning, but not a lot.

Diseases attack society with devastating consequences.

A well prepared home and family stays safe during an emergency or following a disaster. If you have adequate shelter, food, and water, you're already more prepared than most of the population. It's good to store nonperishable food and water, but a Family Emergency Plan helps you prepare for the less obvious.

Prepare a Family Emergency Plan

A disaster or emergency can strike with little or no warning. From earthquakes to hurricanes, global pandemics to electrical grid failures and power outages, disasters and emergencies impact essential services that everyone relies on. Not every emergency will affect every service, but having a plan will alleviate worry while it keeps you and your family safe.

A plan covers includes ways to keep food fresh and the house warm or cool if the power goes out. It ensures safe drinking water and personal hygiene. When the stores are empty, you have the food and personal essentials needed to survive until relief arrives. Pets rely on you for everything they need and a good plan includes how to care for your pets.

If local officials advise or order evacuation, your emergency plan includes a list of everything you need to take with you.

Prepare a Family Emergency Plan and put it into action before disaster strikes.

Keep Children Occupied

Changes in routine and uncertainty can affect children differently than adults. Instead of going to school, they are home and perhaps not allowed to play outside or see friends.

Age appropriate honesty is best. Don’t make it more complicated than you must. Explain in a way that your child can understand why things are they way they are. Give them things to do, let them help out, and ask older children to be sensitive to their younger siblings needs and anxiety.

Bring out new games. Create activities. Spend time with your children.

Keep children safe by keeping them occupied.

Invest in Emergency Power

Everyone relies on electrical power for heat, cooling, refrigeration, and other essential home systems. Power Outages that last an hour or two are a minor inconvenience. After four hours, refrigerated food begins to spoil. Homes become uncomfortably hot in the summer or cold in the winter. A day after the power goes out, freezers begin to thaw and that food becomes unavailable for use.

A battery backup system can supply power for a few hours, but most can’t keep your food or freezer cold for any length of time.

An automatic home standby generator restores power a few seconds after it goes out. Manual operation is also possible. Most run on Natural Gas or Propane, but diesel options are also available. Whole House systems power the entire home including heating and air conditioning. Portable generators require manual operation and connection, frequent refueling, and require the installation of a manual transfer switch with a Generator Power Cord to power the furnace and air conditioner.

Determine the best emergency power option for your family.

Create an Emergency Contact List

Few would argue that the inability to contact a family member may turn into a source of anxiety. Even a single call can alleviate worry that a loved one or close friend is safe. During an emergency or after a disaster, make contact without other outside of the affected region sometimes proves difficult. Landline phones may not work and thousands of calls can overwhelm a cellular network.

Each family group should designate a single point of contact with multiple methods of staying in touch.

Include an emergency contact list and methods of communication in your plan

Official News and Advice

Any disaster or emergency may create a flurry of uncertain news, rumors, and misinformation from a variety of sources, including news-like television programs and social media. In its hurry to get information out and be among the first to report a story, the press sometimes gets it wrong.

The best place to get official news and advice is from the source. Want to know what the President said? Watch him on television or listen on the radio. Tune into official statements and avoid the hurried reporting that follows.

On the local level, official government websites usually have accurate, official news and advice.

Stay at Home Order (SHO)

Sometimes confused with a Shelter in Place order, a stay at home order protects residents by keeping them away from danger or from spreading disease among others. Officials will have details about any order to stay home including who may work, what businesses will stay open, and where residents can go.

Required activities like grocery shopping, fuel for the car, a trip to pharmacy or health care facility are usually allowed during a Stay at Home Order. The order may limit public transportation, especially when disease spread and prevention is the main purpose.

Emergency plans include what to do during a Stay at Home Order and how to prepare in advance.

Shelter in Place (SIP)

A shelter in place order requires residents to stay put. Most activities are severely limited or even prohibited. Stay where you are, don’t make yourself visible or obvious. Shelter in place may be required after a natural disaster makes local travel dangerous.

During the Coronavirus Pandemic, some communities and states issued Stay at Home Orders but referred to the orders as Shelter in Place. Yet, they made it clear that residents could grocery shop, visit the pharmacy, or walk and jog as usual.

Prepare for a Shelter in Place Order they may come in response to a disaster or evolving emergency that could affect public health and safety.

Grocery Shopping During an Emergency

You have your emergency essentials and nonperishable food for three weeks or longer. That covers your family for the next few weeks. If the emergency lasts longer than a few weeks, you’re going to need food and other essential items.

Plan trips to the grocery store and expect that some items may be out of stock. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer can disappear from store shelves within minutes after it reaches the shelves.

Don’t panic. Don’t hoard. Replace what you use from your supply if necessary, but shop for in-stock groceries like dairy, meat, and produce. As long as you can still go grocery shopping during an emergency, your stored food and essentials remain available.

DIY Home Emergency Kit Supplies

The best emergency kit supplies you can buy is the one you build yourself. Consider the needs of everyone in your family. Babies need formula, diapers, and wipes. Seniors must have their medication. Some people have specific dietary requirements.

Don’t forget the pets. They need food and water just like you do. Cats can use a litter box. It’s a little more complicated for dogs, but they can learn to use a specific place just like a person.

Build your Home Emergency Kit in portable containers for easy transport if you leave.

How to Purify Water in an Emergency

Water is our first critical need. People cannot survive without water for more than two days. In addition to staying hydrated, personal hygiene and sanitation also use water. We must clean ourselves and sometimes our food, pots and pans, plates, tableware, and glassware.

We can easily make clean water safe to drink with several methods including filtering, boiling, and chemical treatments. Only filtering can make water completely pure, but boiling and chemical treatments can make clean water safe to drink.

Know How to Purify Water in an Emergency. It might save your life.

Car Preparedness

Our vehicles get us where we need to go. That includes the ability to evacuate ahead of an impending disaster like a hurricane. If the car isn’t ready or won’t make a long trip, it may turn into a liability in the worst-case scenario.

Maintain all your vehicle’s with on time service requirements like oil and filters, tires, and in good operating condition. If you have to leave, take the vehicle most appropriate for the trip. Take your emergency supplies with you, and have a car emergency kit that includes flares, snacks, blankets, and candles. Replace items as they get used to you always have them.

Build a car emergency preparedness kit to keep in your car so it’s ready when you need it.


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