Disaster preparation tips for homeownersby Marcie Geffner
Whether it’s a wildfire, flood, earthquake or hurricane, virtually all homeowners are at risk of one or more types of natural disasters. And while loss of life is the direst consequence of a disaster, damage to or destruction of your home also can be a very challenging experience.
That’s why it’s important to take National Preparedness Month, which is September, a lot more seriously than say, National Doughnut Day, which by the way, is June 7.
Be ready for three days without help
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, encourages individuals, families and businesses to use September to improve disaster preparedness.
One key message is that “being prepared” means being ready to be self-reliant for three days without utilities and electricity, water service, access to a supermarket or local services, and possibly without a response from police, fire or rescue services.
Preparedness starts with identifying the types of disasters that can occur in your area, planning what you and your family will do during a disaster and assembling a disaster-supplies kit for those crucial first three days.
Plan where to meet
The American Red Cross says it’s important to make sure everyone in your family or household is involved, prepared and informed. Since you might be separated when a disaster strikes, you should have plans to make sure you’ll be able to contact and find one another.
Choose two places to meet:
- One near your home
- Another outside your neighborhood in case you can’t get home or are asked to evacuate
Meet with your family or household members and discuss how to prepare and respond to the types disasters most likely to occur in your area. Identify responsibilities for each person, plan to work together as a team and plan what you’ll do if you’re separated and cannot locate one another.
Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in your vehicle in case roads are impassable.
Contents of a ready disaster kit
Your disaster supplies kit should include:
- One gallon of water per person, per day
- Nonperishable, easy-to-prepare meals for at least three days
- Flashlights with batteries
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- A first-aid kit
- A week’s supply of medications and necessary medical items
- A multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents such as passports, birth certificates and insurance policies
- Cell phone with charger
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Extra blankets or sleeping bags
- Maps of the local area
- A whistle
- N95 or surgical masks
- Rain gear, towels and work gloves
- Plastic sheeting, duct tape, scissors and other tools that might be needed to secure your home
- Extra clothing, hats and sturdy shoes
Taking the time to plan and assemble your kit now could be a life-saver and property-protector when a disaster strikes.