Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a natural (or even man-made) disaster hitting close to home. Or, the possibility of a nature disaster striking one’s home. Yet, it is very important that all of us be prepared for a natural disaster (and then pray one never has to deal with one).

Every day, the threat of another natural disaster looms. When one strikes, families and friends are left in dismay. Loved ones may be lost or injured, possessions may have been damaged, and some individuals are left to rebuild a life from scratch. While life is not meant to be lived in fear of disaster, safety should always be a concern, especially for those that live in areas that are more vulnerable to the havoc of mother nature.

Every homeowner can prepare their home and property, as well as themselves and family members, for the potential of danger or damage. Should a situation occur, it will also become necessary to spring into action quickly in order to keep people and personal belongings safe. Having safety foreknowledge, a drafted plan of action and a few supplies on hand can make a difference in some situations.

Prepare Your Property

Educate yourself on the potential risks in your region. Carry out self-protective strategies such as inspecting your property regularly. Your home should have maximized foundation bracing to withstand pressure that may be caused during a disaster. Inspect surrounding structures such as chimneys, roofs, awnings, etc., to make sure they are held solidly in place. Tree branches that are dangerously close to a house should be cut back.
Prepare for disaster
Indoors, consider bracing your water heater, heating system, appliances, bookcases and other tall furniture. Latches can be installed on cupboard doors so that the contents won’t fly out in an emergency situation. Televisions, computers, lamps, etc. can also be secured not only for their own protection, but to prevent them from becoming projectiles.

Prepare Your Family

Teach your family how to shut off the water, gas and power supply to your house. This should be done prior to a disaster, if there is time, and immediately after a disaster if your home has been affected.

Create a family plan that includes safe exits from your home. Decide on a location for family members to meet later, should they become separated.

There is often a warning period prior to an impending hurricane, flood or evacuation. Create a list of items to flee with, should there be time. Having a list prepared is helpful as, in a panic situation, it may be hard for some people to concentrate. Assign items from the list to specific people to look after.

Keep the following list handy, or create your own.

In case of emergency, take these items:

# wallets and ID
# cell phones and a book of important phone numbers
# car keys
# drinking water
# dry food items
# a warm blanket or other clothing items
# the family pet
# photo albums
# jewelry
# medication

Stock Up

Of course, being prepared means being stocked up with proper supplies. Certain supplies can be life saving depending on the damage that has been incurred and the ability to flee the area.

A few suggested items to have on hand include: a first aid kit, a few basic tools, candles, matches, flashlights and perhaps even a power generator for use in the case of a power failure. Do not strike a match, however, until you are sure there are no flammable fluids spilled or gas leaking.

Fresh drinking water will be especially important if tap water has been compromised. If you are stranded without running water, remember there may be potable water available in your hot water tank as well as in the toilet tanks (not toilet bowl), if absolutely necessary.

It’s a good idea to keep stocked with enough food to last several days. Choose foods that won’t spoil, such as dried or canned foods, cereal bars, etc.

Keep some cash on hand. Banks may have power outages making credit and debit cards unusable.

Protect Yourself

If you are aware of an impending hurricane or flood, cover windows with boards and add sandbags around your property.

During an earthquake, tornado or other disaster where things may give way and fall, it is important to take shelter under a strong structure such as a desk, bed, closet or set of stairs, in order to shield yourself. In all cases, stay away from windows.

If you are in an elevator, get out as soon as possible and use the stairs.

Be Cautious

Once a disaster has passed, stay calm and ensure all family members and pets are accounted for. If they are injured, call for emergency services and apply first aid. Put on protective shoes and clothing and inspect your house for damage. Evacuate dangerous areas.

There may be things that are unsuspectingly unsafe that should be avoided, such as downed wires or shaken foundations that could give way at any moment. Make sure all family members are aware of dangers.

Check on your neighbors, if it is safe to do so. Call emergency services if necessary.

Don’t proceed with cleaning up until you are certain that the disaster has run its course and that it is safe to do so. Always use protective equipment to clean up spills of anything hazardous.

Knowing the traits of certain natural disasters is also important. Changes in the earth’s movement can cause tidal waves, flooding, aftershocks, mud slides, and so forth, to occur after the initial disaster. It will be important to assess whether fleeing or staying put is the correct action. If you live in a valley, head for high ground quickly. If you are unsure of what to do, listen to a radio or television for information.

When abandoning your home, take valuables as listed above with you, and leave a note for rescuers who may search for you.

Being prepared for emergency situations is important. Learn about what natural hazards might be in your region. Then create a strategy and a safe course of action that you can implement if or when disaster strikes.

Putting a few safeguards in place can go a long way in protecting your family and your possessions from natural disasters.

For more information, check out FEMAs for more detail disaster preparedness.

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