America has seen its fair share of natural and man-made disasters in 2017. From a historic hurricane season, to terrible mass shootings, the headlines have been dominated by disasters on a scale we don’t see very often. Most recently, wildfires in Northern California have eviscerated entire communities in the span of a few hours.
It is worth asking ourselves if we know what to do during a catastrophe. There are some common sense and practical steps you can take to ensure your safety even in the worst of disasters.
Know What You Are Up Against
The first part of developing your safety plan, is to be informed about the kind of disasters you are threatened by. For example, if you live in California, you are more likely to experience an earthquake, flash flood, or wildfire. The chances of a tornado or hurricane are much smaller, almost non-existent. On the other hand, people in the Midwest do have to take precautions against tornados and other major storms. However, they are less likely to experience a wildfire or earthquake. This goes for any region. Finding out what specific threats affect the area you live will let you then move forward and develop a sensible plan to combat them.
Once you know what you are up against you can start to lay out your disaster plan. Whether you are single or have a family, putting a plan together can increase your chance of surviving an emergency event. Simple things like knowing where your exits and safe places are, what essentials you plan on bringing with you, and knowing who or what you need to worry about, are all part of a disaster plan.
The idea is when a disaster happens, you aren’t caught with your shorts down. Run through your plan mentally or in real life as practice for when you will need it. Make sure you have an “Out-of-Town” contact to confirm your well-being with. If you have a family, designate a spot where you will all meet in the event of an emergency. That way, should you be separated at the time of the emergency, everyone will still know where to go. If you know a disaster is coming (like a hurricane) you can stock up on gas, food, and water, as well as check your homes safety readiness.
Again different regions have specific risks you will need to plan for. Having insurance related to those specific risks can help mitigate the costs that come with natural disasters. Earthquake, fire, flood, and tornado insurance are all available depending on where you live. It would also be wise to keep a lawyer on hand in case there is legal issues stemming from a disaster. You can’t guarantee you will be home when a disaster strikes. Businesses, public areas, and your place of employment can all be culpable for not taking proper precautions against emergency events. A lawyer can help you file a wrongful death claim, a personal injury claim, a bad faith insurance claim, and more.
Build and Maintain a Disaster Kit
Not every disaster will afford you the time to shop and look around for the essentials you will bring with you. In fact, most disasters like earthquakes, floods and fires can leave a person with little, to no time to evacuate. Having a disaster kit filled with essential items, that is both easy to locate and carry, can provide you with the bare necessities to help you get by. A basic kit could include a few days’ supply of water and non-perishable food, a flashlight with batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation and hygiene items, matches, extra clothes, cash, photocopies of your ID, and any special medications or items specific to you or your family. Keep your Disaster Kit in an easy to reach and convenient location. You don’t want to be stuck looking for it when the evacuation orders come through.
Many people also use their cars as a mode of transportation and safety in a disaster. Having maps, extra gas, spare batteries, spare tires, a tire repair kit, and booster cables will keep your car prepared for a disaster.
Again, depending on the region you live in you might have to tweak your Disaster Kit to fit your needs. For example, people living in an area vulnerable to cold weather might want to include extra blankets, a heavy jacket, or anti-freeze to their disaster kits.
Of course none of this means anything, or will be of any use if you don’t maintain your Disaster Kit. It is hard to predict exactly when a disaster or emergency will happen. Sometimes there will be years in between them. Consistently checking and testing the readiness of your Disaster Kit will ensure that no matter when the next emergency event occurs, you will be prepared.
When the time comes, if you have prepared accordingly, you should have a clear plan in place to help you get by. Move quickly to secure what you need and should the order to evacuate come through, listen to it. As long as you have prepared and planned ahead of time you should be able to respond to any disaster with a clear head.