Have you ever considered what you would do if a disaster struck you and your family? Would you know what to do? Would you take the right step to take to protect your life and that of your family? Many of us assume that disasters only happen rarely and to other people. But unpredictable weather can affect any area of the country, and recently we've witnessed wildfires, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters in places we least expected.
Although natural disasters can cause catastrophic loss of property and injuries, you can reduce their effect through careful planning and preparation.
The first step to planning a disaster response is to be informed. Especially if you’re new to an area, you should become familiar with its frequent natural disasters. Identify the known risks such as earthquakes, flood zones and frequency of extreme weather. Some information about the area can help you understand some of the initial responses to include in your plan. For example, if you live close to the water, you'll likely want to have a well-thought out plan in the event of a flood.
Tornadoes are another example. As HomeAdvisor explains, “Although they are mostly associated with the Midwest and “Tornado Alley”, no state is immune to tornadoes. Even sunny California experienced seven of them in 2014. Therefore, it only makes sense to take some precautions and have procedures in place in the event of a tornado.”
After acquiring information about your particular disaster likelihood, the next steps to developing a plan is to consider these four questions with your family and friends:
How will emergency alerts and warnings be transmitted? What is your shelter plan? What is your evacuation route? What is your communication plan?
When answering all these questions, consider any particular needs of your family. Small children, seniors, people with special needs and even pets can all affect how you develop and execute your plan.
Next, consider what sort of supplies you should need if there is a disaster. Creating an emergency preparedness kit is simple, and although you hopefully will never have to use it, it’ll be the best investment you've ever made in the event disaster strikes. Having the following basic supplies can make a life or death difference:
- Water - 1 gallon per person per day
- Nonperishable food, such as canned goods
- Battery-operated or hand crank radio and/or phone charger
- Extra batteries
- Personal hygiene items
And if disaster strikes, be ready to put your plan into effect. None of these preparations are useful in a state of chaos, so your plan should include designating someone to be in control.
And if a natural disaster hits, consider the impact on your pets as well. Contact your local emergency management office or Humane Society to see if a temporary shelter is available for your animals. Emergency shelters for people impacted by natural disasters can't always accept displaced animals, so your plan should provide for their care.
You can also reach out to friends and family members who aren’t affected by the disaster to see if they could temporarily house your pets. Other options include making a list of pet-friendly hotels in your area in case you have to find shelter quickly for the entire family.
When natural disasters occur, all too often victims are unprepared, believing that such calamities only happen to other people in other areas. Be prepared for these events, no matter how unlikely. It may be the best plan you ever put to paper.