Monday, May 20, 2013

BE PREPARED - For natural disasters

Lord Robert Bayden Powell reminds us...
‘Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.’
This is the creed Boy Scouts have lived by for generations. And the motto is as important today as ever.

Being prepared 365 days 24/7 is paramount. Are you prepared for a tornado or any other disaster?
It is human nature to think about things ‘after the fact’. Being prepared ahead of time can make any situation easier to handle.

I think one of the most important things you can have is a fire-proof safe box for keeping important documents in such as:
marriage licenses/ divorce papers
birth certificates
social security card
medical documents
insurance information such as medical/ life/ homeowners/renters policies.

We also keep a hard copy of our home contents and photos of items. This makes it much easier when filing your insurance claim. If you can just hand them the papers to photocopy, it may expedite your claim process.

Next is to have a plan. Does everyone in your family know where to go in case of a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning? The object is not to have them living in fear but to be aware of what they need to do. In this case, practice makes perfect. Have in-home drills and treat them as if they were the real thing.  Also have an outside contact. If you are separated in a disaster, it’s a good idea to have someone everyone can check in with to let them know they are okay and where they are.

Aside from your safe box, you also need to think about immediate needs following a disaster. gives a detailed list of what you should have on hand. Some of the items include:
fire extinguisher
basic first-aid kit
3-day supply of 1 gallon of water per day per person in your household
3-day supply of non-perishable can foods with either pop-top type of lids or a hand operated can opener
battery operated radio and a supply of replacement batteries
A couple of flashlights and extra batteries.

I think each person in the family should have a flashlight as well as a whistle for signaling help, in a place they can grab as they head to their shelter. If you’re buried beneath the rubble of your home, the breath to blow that whistle will aid rescuers in reaching you quickly. Diaper wipes, trash bags with ties and a wrench or pliers for turning off the utilities.

Our emergency tub also includes:
a change of clothes for each person
a windbreaker jacket and heavy work gloves
personal hygiene supplies

If you have children, I also suggest making sure they have a personal backpack. As traumatic as the aftermath of a disaster may be for you, it is ten-fold for them. We always think of kids as being resilient, and in many cases they are. But when you’ve lost everything, it’s pretty scary. Their emergency backpack might include:
a couple of books
favorite snuggle toy
hand held game
favorite snack bars and juice boxes

If you have infants/ toddlers, a pre-packed diaper bag is also essential. Make sure to include eardrops and infant Tylenol. The pressure they experience during a storm can leave ear pain and headaches for them.

Pets are another concern. Make sure all of your pets have a tag or an implanted chip. Many animal rescue agencies will take in the pets for free or a modest cost until you can relocate and be reunited. If you choose to keep them with you, make sure you have extra pet food and include them in your water supply.

There are numerous other things to have on hand and you’ll find the complete list on the FEMA website. My final suggestion is to make sure all of these things are kept in the lowest part of your home and covered with heavy plastic sheeting.

We can’t be prepared for everything. But any steps you take now will make your journey through recovery less stressful. Be safe.