Is your family prepared for a disaster?
How to prepare for a disaster:
It’s important for every individual, family and business to have a plan set in place in the event of a disaster. The Department of Homeland Security recommends putting an action plan in place and also having a supply kit that you can rely on during a disaster.
What should your plan look like? The four key elements of your disaster plan should be:
Keep in mind that you and your family might not all be together when disaster strikes. It’s important to establish a meeting point for your family members if you are not together. This should be a familiar place that is easy to find.
If someone in your family has an illness or disability, be sure to contact your city or county government’s emergency management agency. They keep lists of people who require additional help so they can be assisted quickly in time of need.
If you have a pet, have a plan for them too. Know that if you need to leave your house quickly, they might not be able to join in every hotel or shelter. Ready.gov has put an extensive resource together to plan for your family. Read more here.
Many insurance companies also recommend that you document your belongings:
- Go room by room and write down the items you have in your home.
- Don’t forget to write down any serial numbers of electronics or appliances.
- Store your completed list outside your home in a safe box or in the cloud. Allstate has an app to use for this.
What should your supply kit contain?
- You should have one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. This will be used for drinking and also sanitation
- A medical emergency might require more water.
- Keep in mind that children, nursing or pregnant women and sick individuals will require more water. Additionally, if you live in a warm climate, water needs can double.
- Pets need their own water supply along with a water dish.
If your home is not safe for you and your family, it is not safe for your pets, either. Your emergency supply kit should include:
- A leash or harness
- A two-week supply of pet food, including a can opener if needed for your pet’s food
- Bottled water
- Small food and water bowls
- Current photos of your pets in case they get lost
- Copies of your pet’s vaccination records in case they need to stay in a pet shelter
- Any medications your pet requires
Not all hotels and shelters allow pets to stay. Families should plan ahead for their pet’s shelter needs.
FEMA is required to plan for the needs of pets and service animals following a major natural disaster according to the PETS Act. The American Red Cross has other helpful tips to prepare you and your pets for natural disasters.
- You should have at least a three-day supply of food for each person
- These should be non-perishable items, like:
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables (NOTE: You’ll need a can opener)
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
- Try to avoid foods that make you thirsty
- Keep in mind any dietary restrictions
- Ensure that all of your food is stored in airtight containers
- After a disaster, you might not have access to a medical facility or a pharmacy. If you or a family member takes prescriptions, it might be difficult to stockpile these. Here is what the CDC recommends.
OTHER ESSENTIAL ITEMS
- Battery or hand crank radio
- First Aid Kit
- Extra batteries
- Cell Phone–fully charged if possible
DisasterChecklist.org is a 501c3 organization committed to raising awareness of disaster preparedness.
Being prepared in the face of an emergency is incredibly important. Unfortunately, few Americans have adequate supplies for a disaster situation. In fact, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) survey found that nearly 60 percent of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster. Another study published in 2019 showed only about 15 percent of Americans have a preparedness kit packed and stocked.
The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA recommend that all Americans have at least three days of nonperishable food and bottled water on-hand for everyone in their household. They also recommend having other supplies—including batteries, a radio, first aid materials, toiletries and can openers—stocked in case of emergency.