Making Plans for a Natural Disaster

While it may be impossible to predict a natural disaster, it is possible (even advisable) to plan for the unexpected trials that nature may throw our way. In fact, having a clear plan is the first and possibly most important step in being prepared. The following suggestions should help you get started.

If you have lived in your area for a long period of time, you probably know exactly what type of disaster is most likely to affect your region. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires, maybe even a tsunami? If you are newer to your home base, do a little research or ask the old-timers. Obviously, you want to prepare for the natural disaster that you are most likely to experience. Find out the location of any community shelters in your area, and learn their particular rules. What are you allowed to bring, and what is prohibited? Can you bring your pets? If you can’t bring your pets, what is your plan for your furry friends? Also become familiar with local evacuation routes, keeping in mind that they may be overcrowded should a natural disaster happen. Once your plan is in place, share it with your entire family, including those who don’t live with you. Family members living far from you will be grateful to know what your plans are should they become necessary.

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Some natural disasters allow time for evacuation, while some do not. If you are going to be in your home after a natural disaster has occurred in your area, be prepared for the living conditions that may present themselves. Water will be a priority. It is possible that your water supply will be temporarily unavailable, so store some water ahead of time. Water in single-use plastic bottles is fine for short term, but for long-term preparation it may not be the best idea. If they are not used right away, the plastic itself breaks down and the water will eventually be tainted. A better plan, if possible, is to have water stored in other containers. The large water dispensers found at sporting events work well for this. Water can also be stored in your bathtub in case you need it for flushing toilets.

When choosing food for your disaster plan, remember that there is a strong possibility that you will go for some time without electricity. Canned food, peanut butter and jelly, crackers, and fruit or vegetables that do not need refrigeration are a good idea. And while we are on the subject of a loss of electricity, a battery powered radio can be a good way to keep up with what’s going on. A fan that runs on batteries will help you through those days with no air conditioning. Also, most sporting goods stores sell small camping stoves that run on butane. That way, you can eat your canned chili heated up rather than cold. Yum!

Lighting during the night-time hours can be a conundrum if you lose power, and you may not want to keep candles burning for hours on end. There are lights available at many sporting goods stores as well as home improvement stores that run on batteries. There are also some that can be charged using solar power. An additional option is to get some of those yard or walkway lights that gather power from the sun during the day and then shine at night. Just leave them outside during the day and bring them in in the evening. Another wonderful solar-powered gadget available is one that can use stored solar power to charge your phone.

Of course, there are many other concerns to keep in mind when preparing for a natural disaster, such as health and medical items. The point to remember is that most of us in the United States live in an area that could be subject to a serious natural disaster. Hurricanes on the east coast and along the Gulf of Mexico, wildfires in the west, and tornadoes in between. You and your family should have a solid plan in place, evacuate if that is what is the safest option, or be prepared to hunker down in place without the amenities of running water or electricity. Take a cue from the Boy Scout motto: “Always be prepared.”