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Are you prepared if a natural disaster comes your way?! I want to help you and your family be prepared now, and throughout the year, for any natural disaster that comes your way. Before you can make a plan, you need to be informed of what may happen. Here is a list of the common natural disasters that you should be prepared for:
- Power Outages (Unexplained): when the electrical power goes out unexpectedly. They can occur at any time, last for any length of time and can have a serious impact on you personally; as well as your community and the economy.
- Wildfire: an unplanned fire that burns in a natural area such as a forest, the grasslands or a prairie. They can happen anywhere, and at anytime, with a risk factor that constantly increases within a short amount of time. Additionally, they can cause flooding, disrupt transportation, gas, power and communications.
- Hurricanes: a massive storm that forms over warm ocean waters and moves towards land with potential threats of powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, flooding, tornadoes and landslides. They can occur along each United States’ coast line, whether that be the east coast (Atlantic Ocean), the west coast (Pacific Ocean) or the gulf coast (Gulf of Mexico).
- Floods: a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. They come with little to no warning, can cause power outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, and create landslides. Floods are caused by rain, snow, coastal storms, storm surges, overflows of dams and/or other water systems.
- Winter Storms: range from freezing rain, ice and moderate snowfall over a few hours to a blizzard that lasts several days, or a combination of the two. Normally they come with dangerously low temperatures. Winter storms can immobilize a whole region and can shut down heat, power and communications services, and can last for several days. Roadways and walkways become very dangerous due to icy conditions, thus leading to residents needing to stay home or at work without utilities until it is safe to drive, ride and/or walk outside.
- Tornado: a rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground and, though not always, is visible as a funnel cloud. Lighting and hail commonly occur in storms that produce tornadoes. Damages caused by tornadoes range from unsubstantial to catastrophic; and injuries ranging from minor to serious and even life threatening. It can disrupt transportation, power, gas, communications and other services both in its direct path and in neighboring areas. Tornadoes, and the storms they accompany, can produce heavy rain, flash flooding and hail.
- Earthquake: a sudden shaking of the Earth caused by the breaking and shifting of underground rock from either volcanic or tectonic origins. They can cause structures and roads to collapse and heavy items to fall, leading to property damage and serious injuries. Earthquakes can also cause fires, tsunamis, landslides and avalanches.
You may be wondering, “How do I prep for all of these different natural disasters?!” For starters, it’s important to have a plan. Therefore, I am going to help you make one with the following steps:
Start by putting together a plan for your household, and family, that answers these four questions:
- How will I/we receive emergency alerts and warnings? Text, phone call, radio, etc.
- What is my/our shelter plan? Stay in place, public shelter, underground, basement, etc.
- What is my/our evacuation route? Make sure to laminate a map with a highlighted route – or try invisible ink.
- What is my family/household’s communication plan? Walkie talkies, glow sticks/flashlights, morse code, etc.
Next, consider the specific needs of your household by basing your plans around the needs and responsibilities of your daily household, such as: different ages of members within your household, dietary needs, medical needs (prescriptions and equipment), disability access and needs (devices and equipment), languages spoken (cultural and religious considerations) and pets and service animals.
Download and fill out a Family Emergency Plan, or use them as a guide to create your own. It is very important to practice your plan with your family, or by yourself if you live alone.
Next step, be financially prepared! Gather financial and critical personal, household and medical information together in one secure place. Keep them in a fire- and waterproof box in your home. If you need to take them with you in case of emergency, put the files in a plastic bag to prevent potential water damage. Start saving money in an emergency (rainy day) fund that can be used during a crisis; the easiest way to make quick purchases in times of crisis is with smaller bills, therefore always try to keep some on hand. Obtain property, health and life insurance if you do not already have them – remember to regularly review existing policies.
Other things to be prepared for, or to add to your preparations, are:
Sign up for your community’s emergency alert system and/or the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS). Additionally, learn the evacuation plans for your community.
Gather emergency supplies for at least three days, or 72 hours (do not forget medical equipment, medicine and your pets!). Make sure to keep your bug out bag in an easily reachable location, but out of site from visitors. It’s a good idea to keep a smaller, or second, version in your car incase you are away from home when an emergency strikes. Don’t forget the first aid kit!
Take inventory of items you need that rely on electricity and make sure you have a way to keep them charged, such as a solar panel charger or external battery pack (I recommend Nimble). Additionally, keep vehicle tanks full of gas or diesel – plus extra portable containers when possible.
Disasters do not plan ahead, but you can by taking the time to be ready for the unexpected as much as possible. For more information, I recommend visiting this government-created preparedness website.
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