When disasters strike, they can mean days to weeks without power, and sometimes they leave enough time to grab bags of supplies and go. Now is the time to prepare, before disaster strikes your door.
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Know your area’s disaster risk
While some hazards, such as hurricanes, occur in every region, some disasters are more common in specific geographic areas. It is important to know your risks.
The American Red Cross has a tool for determining common disasters in your area, such as hurricanes hitting the Gulf and Atlantic Coast from June to November, and wildfire season in the West, which now lasts all year, but Gets worse as late coming winds. summer and fall. Each threat requires separate preparation steps.
More work needs to be done to detect specific hazards for your home. Homeowners are often unaware of how vulnerable their property can be to flooding.
To figure out your original risk, start with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood map, but be aware that new construction could change how water flows and flood risks are increasing as the planet warms. especially from more extreme falls along the coasts. The websites of state and local emergency management departments may also have tools for reviewing local risk resources.
How to Build an Emergency Supply Kit
When a disaster strikes, you may be without electricity, safe running water, or help for days. An important safety measure is to have emergency supplies on hand and in a safe place where you can easily access them.
The disaster supply kit contains basic items your family may need. The US government’s disaster preparedness website, Ready.gov, suggests packing the following items:
Water: One gallon per person per day for several days.
Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food such as canned meat and fruit.
Battery operated or handheld radio.
A first aid box.
Plastic sheeting and duct tape that can help provide protection.
Also: spare batteries, a whistle, dust mask, damp restroom, basic personal hygiene items, blankets, extra clothing, garbage bags, a wrench or pliers, a manual opener, local maps, and a cell phone with charger.
some important additions
In addition to the items recommended by ready.gov, there are a few other ideas useful when creating a supply kit.
For example, collect prescription drugs and keep an up-to-date list of all those home-use medications. This can be especially important for older adults and people on life-sustaining medical treatment. The pandemic is ongoing, include extra face masks – you can spend time in a public disaster shelter.
Pet owners may also consider creating a separate disaster supply kit for their animals. These supplies include veterinary records, pet food and a can opener, food and water bowls and medicines.
Battery packs and portable USB power chargers are useful additions to disaster supply kits for when the power goes out. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, people used their smartphones to call for help on social media. However, the phone battery can drain quickly, so be prepared. And make sure the portable charger is charged and ready to go.
Warnings and news reports don’t always reflect the risk of a tornado or other hazards, so be prepared even if you’re not on the center of a forecasted storm track or the expected direction of a wildfire.
grab and go
Many types of disasters may require evacuation of your home, and you may only have a few minutes to prepare. It’s important to have emergency supplies ready to go in case you need to go immediately.
These bags are different from home disaster supply kits because you may need to carry the bag on foot.
Typically, you’ll include food and water, a small battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a flashlight, spare batteries, a small first aid kit, copies of important documents, local maps, and a phone charger and battery pack.
Communication plans matter
Before a disaster forces you to move fast, make a plan for where you can go. Find destinations in several different directions in case the route is blocked, and make sure everyone in your house and your emergency contacts know the plan.
Families should have a conversation about disasters, including discussing their evacuation plan, who to contact, where to meet when separated, and where emergency supply kits are stored.
September is National Preparedness Month, but the risks continue throughout the year. Winter storms that can knock lightning just around the corner. Talking about disasters before they happen and planning ahead can make the process run more smoothly amid the chaos when a disaster strikes.
Read more: Why should you have social media apps in your disaster kit?
This article was updated on September 27, 2021, with maps of the most common disasters by state.
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