It is next to impossible to be completely prepared for all emergencies, but that is no reason for not trying to be prepared at all. If you are reading this then you are at least thinking about being prepared for something! Many of the steps necessary to prepare yourself involve some expense; but not all. Emergency preparedness is achieved one step at a time. So not let fear of cost, the fear of not being able to do everything or any other kind of fear stop you from doing what you can today, tomorrow and the next. Remember one step at a time.
Do you have an inventory of everything in your home? If you do, do you know where it is? How long has it been since it was updated? Home inventories are needed for insurance claims as well as police reports. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you think you have, doing a home inventory can be as simple as making a video. Go through you home, garage, sheds and outside of your home and video what is there. Open drawers, closets, especially those items of value that are not seen when you walk into a room. Take a couple of minutes to video the items in the dining room hutch; your kids collection of baseballs cards; that fur coat or tuxedo that are in the back of the closet; your collection of dolls or CD’s, etc. If your home were to be destroyed by fire would you be able to remember everything you owned? The same can be done with photos. As long as you have something to show the insurance company or the police.
Important papers are worth making copies of and putting with your inventory. Copies of insurance policies for cars, home, life, medical, as well as bank account numbers, addresses and phone numbers of family members. With computers now it is easy to scan and make a file of all these items. Consider who and what you would need if you lost your home due to fire or flood? Put your home inventories, photos and important papers in a file and make copies of all of them on a CD, send them to others that you trust, put them in a safe deposit box, etc, so you have a copy or two outside of your home. CD’s are an excellent way to protect your cherished photos as well. Back up your files on CD’s so you have them in at least one other place. CD’s fit very nicely into 72 hr backpacks.
- Fire extinguishers, at least one for each level of your home.
- Smoke detectors-these are an absolute must in every home. They should be installed close to bedrooms and on each level near the stairs. If you are in need of one and can’t afford it, call your local fire department and they will bring one and install it for you.
- Candles and matches, also make sure you have something fireproof under your candles.
- First aid kits may be hard to find when you need it the most.
- Flashlights and batteries. If you are storing flashlights remember to remove the batteries so they don’t corrode and ruin the flashlights. In hot areas you might want to put your batteries in a separate container of their own since heat and humidity can cause them to leak. There are also flashlights that ‘wind up’ so batteries are not needed.
- Cash. When the power goes out in a community often times businesses can’t or won’t take ATM or credit cards.
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio,this will allow you to keep informed with what may be happening in your area.
- Collapsible ladder-needed if you have second-floor bedrooms.
Family Disaster Plan
Every able-bodied family member should know and understand:
- How to locate and turn off the water main; gas main; and electrical main to your house. If you don’t know how you can
call your water, gas or electrical companies and they can tell help you.
- How to dial 911- AND know when and WHERE to call. be careful teaching this to children. If a 911 call comes
from your house, they will call you back or come to your house to see if there is an emergency.
- How to evacuate the house quickly and where to meet together outside the house. If there is not predetermined place to meet it just adds to the chaos of the emergency.
- How to contact family or friends when an emergency does occur.
- Practice fire and emergency evacuation drills on a scheduled basis. Ask children what they remember. It is suggested that you change your batteries in the smoke detectors when the time changes, at least once a year. Make sure your fire extinguisher is in working order…remember it may have to be recharged.
Here are some tips for various emergencies when preparing with your family disaster drills:
- Stay low to the ground-smoke rises
- Touch door before opening-if it is hot don’t open it
- Seek shelter in basement or in a small interior room with no windows, such as a closet or a small hallway with all doors closed.
- Keep away from outside walls and windows.
- If you are out in the open, lie down flat in a ditch or low spot.
- Know where high ground is so you can evacuate when suggested by your local authorities.
- seek shelter in basement or in a small interior room with no windows, such as a closet or a small hallway with all doors closed.
- Keep away from outside walls and windows.
- Seek immediate shelter under a heavy desk or table, brace yourself inside a door frame or if possible go outside.
- Walking or running during an earthquake is sometimes very difficult depending on how strong the quake is.