These past few weeks, mother nature is anything but happy.
With a season of some incredible natural disasters devastating communities across the country, it's a solemn and humbling reminder that every family should be prepared for the worst.
It's one thing to talk about the possibility of a flood, tornado or hurricane affecting your home or school and it's another to create a plan and prepare to keep your family safe when disaster strikes. Planning for these events doesn't have to be intimidating or even scary to discuss with your kids. It's easier than you think and makes a big difference in an emergency situation.
The easiest way to tackle disaster planning is to categorize your efforts into three fundamental principles.
Talk it Out
Talk to your family as a team about natural disasters, how they differ, what can happen and where your safest route is for shelter. Discuss with your kids where to locate supplies, emergency contact information and what they need to do if they have to take charge on their own.
Keep your home stocked and ready with the essentials you'll need for most power outages and scenarios that may prevent you from leaving the house. Keep supplies in two different areas of your home such as the basement and pantry upstairs to make sure they are always accessible. Get your family involved in checking supplies and expiration dates of non perishable foods and batteries.
A natural disaster or emergency doesn't care if you are prepared or not. Practicing your escape route, calling out to your emergency contacts and gathering your escape bag with your kids can help them feel more prepared and secure should a real scenario take place. It can be as simple as gathering together as a family in an area of your home that is safe from windows or floods.
Here's a list of the suggested items to keep on hand by different emergency associations across the country:
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)
Additional Emergency Supplies
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Glasses and contact lense solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
You can never be too prepared for emergency situations.
Over the past few weeks we've seen a devastating aftermath of multiple natural disasters that are prompting Americans to focus on preparing for emergencies. Getting involved in local associations and organizations for disaster relief can also empower your family to help others that need our help and to bring attention back to how we are preparing our homes for different emergencies and storms.
Be safe. Be organized. Be prepared.