Natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and snowstorms could leave you and your loved ones without food, water or power for days. Other events like power outages and civil unrest have the potential to cut you off from the rest of the world. Emergency preparedness is an essential part of staying safe when the unexpected occurs. This guide will help you to prepare for emergency situations that could threaten the health and safety of you and your family.
Knowing When to Evacuate – The best way of surviving an emergency is by evacuating before the situation arises. In the case of natural disasters like hurricanes, fires or floods, it may be easier to predict whether you need to evacuate before the danger is present. Local officials often issue an evacuation order when these natural disasters are expected to occur to ensure that people are able to safely remove themselves from the situation.
To ensure that you will be able to safely evacuate when there is time to do so, be sure to make a plan well before an emergency arises. Plan a meeting spot with family members in case of emergency. Keep your gas tank full, and familiarize yourself with several routes out of your city in case one of these roads is blocked during the emergency. Be sure to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you are stuck on the road.
If officials have ordered an evacuation, be sure to pay attention to the listing of designated shelters for those who are displaced during the emergency. While you will not be able to bring pets to these shelters, you should take your pets with you when you are evacuating. Local humane societies often set up emergency shelter services to house animals until their families are able to return home.
If an emergency situation comes up suddenly, you may not have the option to get out of your city. In this case, it is safer to stay in your home until help arrives. Where you stay while you are waiting for help depends on the emergency. For example, people who are stuck at home during a flood should make their way to the highest point in their home. People who cannot get out during a hurricane should find an interior doorway to stand in while the storm is passing over their area.
Being Prepared to Survive Until Help Arrives – It is difficult to know how long you will have to wait before help arrives. The length of time that you and your family will go without food, water, electricity or other basic services depends on the scope of the emergency and the needs of others who have been affected by the event.
Because it can be difficult to determine how long you will have to wait during an emergency, it is best to be prepared to be without services and conveniences for several days. It is possible for emergency personnel to reach you within a few hours, but it is best not to rely on this possibility.
The best course of action is to be prepared to survive without help for at least 72 hours. Including enough supplies to sustain you and your family for a whole week is preferable. Going above and beyond when it comes to emergency preparedness ensures that you will not be struggling in case of an emergency.
What You Need in Your Emergency Kit – Now that you know when to evacuate and how long to be prepared to wait for emergency personnel, it is time to put together your emergency kit. The most important thing to remember when putting together a kit is to do it as soon as possible. It is not recommended that you wait until an emergency situation is predicted or occurs to star putting the kit together. Supplies are likely to be scarce when a disaster is imminent, and you will have to fight the crowds to navigate to the supplies and equipment that you need.
Survival kits should include flashlights with additional batteries and well-stocked medical kits. First aid kits that are already stocked with the essentials that are needed in case of emergency can be purchased for your convenience.
Emergency food supplies are also essential – Even if you have access to food during an emergency, there is a chance that it will be contaminated. Canned foods, dried foods and peanut butter are all good options. Choose foods that are more shelf-stable to ensure that your emergency food supply will last a long time, and avoid salty foods that could contribute to dehydration.
Water is also an important supply to have in case of an emergency. As with food, water sources may be contaminated. Bottled water is needed to keep you hydrated and healthy as you survive the emergency. A good rule of thumb is to stock one gallon of water per person per day.
Keeping a separate bug-out bag in your emergency kit will help you survive if you are forced to leave your home without being able to access shelters. A bug-out bag includes the supplies that you will need to survive without assistance for 72 hours. In addition to food, water and first aid kits, supplies to place in your bag include:
• Local maps
• Tools for starting a fire
• Personal water purifier
• Crank-operated radio
• Space blankets
• Hand warmers
• Folding knife
• Duct tape
• Cooking supplies
If anyone in your family requires medication, extra medication should be included in the bag. Medical records should also be included to ensure that emergency personnel are aware of any issues that need to be addressed.