1. Know what you’ll face
Part of preparation is knowing precisely what kind of disasters you may face and knowing what to do in each situation. Living in Montana? You probably don’t need to worry about hurricanes. California? Better be prepared for an earthquake, but don’t overlook your chances of severe weather or pandemic flu. If you can’t think about all the probabilities, here’s a handy list from the Red Cross. If you think you live in a disaster-free zone, you’re probably wrong.
2. Learn your area’s evacuation routes and shelter locations
The time to figure these things out isn’t while a hurricane is bearing down on your home, or after a tsunami warning has been issued. Evacuations are actually pretty common, so it’ll serve you well to understand the details ahead of time. You should also know the escape routes from your own home, including the a lot of obscure ones, like out that ground-level window in your bathroom. If you have children, draw them a map and post it close to their door. You should also set up where your family can regroup if you need to evacuate your house. Pick one location right outside your home, and one outside the neighborhood, in case you need to leave the area. Decide ahead of time where you would go in case of an evacuation, whether its a friend’s or relative’s house or a Red Cross shelter.
3. Know how you’ll reconnect with people who matter
If cell networks aren’t working, you don’t just need to worry regarding however your Netflix stream will be affected. Think about how you’ll contact your family or your roommates. However will you let others know you’re alright? Figuring this out ahead of time can make everything most easier in a difficult situation. The Red Cross recommends using an out-of-area emergency contact to have family members check in with, since it should be easier to make long distance calls. Everyone should also have a list of emergency contacts and local emergency numbers.
4. Sign up for emergency alerts and know how officials will communicate with you during a disaster
You can get these on your mobile phone, if you haven’t disabled them already. We know the blaring noise overtaking the silent mode on your phone can be annoying, but this is most likely the best way to learn about emergencies if you’re constantly connected to your phone. The emergency alert system also broadcasts over the radio and television, and NOAA weather radio can tell you if severe weather is anticipated twenty four hours each day, seven days a week. Tune in on social media as well, but don’t expect to rely on it exclusively as you may not keep your internet connection in an emergency.
5. Learn what to do if you’re caught away from home
Obviously you may not be at home when disaster strikes. In the case of an unexpected emergency, you must be ready to react from different locations, including your workplace or car. Most of this is pretty basic stuff — again, know your evacuation routes, communication plan and how you’ll receive emergency notification. Have a plan for reconnecting with children who is also at school, daycare or after-school activities. Talk to schools to see how they will communicate with families in an emergency, if they have a shelter-in-place set up and where they will go if they’re forced to evacuate.
6. Have a kit and know how to use it
Ok, we’re not talking full-on doomsday prepper status here. We’re talking regarding some basic necessities. This includes food, water, basic first aid provides and alternative emergency equipment that you might already have, think flashlights and duct tape. Verify this full list by FEMA for tips. The secret’s to own this assembled and ready to use, not scattered all over your house. Ensure everything is in working order which nobody sneaks snacks from your finished kit. Some kits are available for purchase pre-packed, but keep in mind, if you don’t know how to use what you have, it could be useless.
7. Keep in mind people who may need special preparation
Kids, infants, folks with disabilities and seniors may all need special issues while planning for an emergency. If you or a family member need medication or special equipment, ensure you have a plan to bring it with you. Talk to your neighbors regarding however you can help each other in a disaster, and check on one another in case of an emergency.
8. Prepare for your pets
The goal of emergency preparedness is to keep the entire family safe — and that includes our pets. If you need to evacuate, you should never leave your pet behind. Try to evacuate to a friend or family member’s house, as pets might not be allowed inside public shelters. Keep a pet emergency kit on hand with food and other vital things. The ASPCA recommends microchipping pets so they is identified and returned to you even without tags. The ASPCA app also helps you keep track of animal records required to board pets at an emergency shelter and has other useful tips for a variety of things.
9. Learn emergency skills that can always come in handy
Make sure you know little things that can create a large difference, like how to use a fire extinguisher or perform basic first aid. Get trained in CPR or the even easier hands-only CPR, which could facilitate save someone’s life even when you least expect it. You can also learn how to shut off utilities in your house just in case of a disaster that may damage gas, water or electrical lines.
10. Find out how to help your community during a disaster
Want to assist out even more? Learn how you can be a community leader during a disaster or teach others how to be prepared. Volunteer positions with local emergency response agencies or nonprofits are available in a large range of capacities.
This is not a catch-all list. For more information visit ready.gov, redcross.org or your local emergency preparedness site.