It doesn’t take much time googling “disaster preparedness” to realize that there are a number of people out there who take things to the extreme. Yes, you could horde an entire year’s supply of food and water in your basement in fear of the zombie apocalypse, but we aren’t living in an episode of the Living Dead. Yes, we need to be prepared for a disaster, but a more common-sense approach to disaster preparedness really is best. Here are some common-sense ideas to keep in mind as you start thinking about preparing for a disaster.
1. Think About the Necessities
The most important thing to help you survive a disaster is being prepared for the basic necessities. Food, water, shelter and clothing are the most important things. If you have these, you can get through a number of days without power, services or help. Here are some basic guidelines to remember.
- Prepare for a minimum of three days of food and water if you will evacuate, or two weeks if you wish to ride out a disaster at home.
- Plan 1-2 gallons of water per person, per day.
- Stash food that is non-perishable and can be prepared without heat. Canned or jarred foods are best. Don’t forget pet food and baby formula. If you have a baby, stash some formula even if you are nursing, just in case nursing is not possible.
- Consider a simple propane stove with extra propane to allow you to heat some foods.
- Consider a jacket and simple shelter, like a tent or sleeping bag, in case your home is compromised.
- Pack the necessary toiletry items, and don’t forget diapers, wipes and feminine products.
Remember, it would be nice to have a giant stash, but we are talking about common sense preparedness. Take the time to get the basic necessities, and then add to it if you have time and storage space.
2. Consider Medical Needs
Next, consider medical needs for your family, both existing needs and potential needs in an emergency. Many people will stash a supply of all medications they use, including both prescription and over-the-counter, that they can grab on their way out of the home. Keeping a stash of medications in your disaster prep stash is a good idea. Don’t forget a basic first-aid kit. The Red Cross sells first aid kits that also have some basic survival supplies that would be a great option. Remember, chances are in a disaster you’re going to need some bandages and antiseptic.
3. Batteries and Battery Chargers
In a disaster, chances are high that you won’t have electricity. Consider investing in a battery-powered charger for your cell phone and other electronics, or a small generator. Then, keep those chargers powered so you can charge up your electronics and stay in touch with people. Don’t forget extra batteries for battery radios and other devices you will need.
4. Contact Information and a Meeting Place
One of the hardest things in a disaster is not knowing where those you love are, and if they are OK. Before any disaster strikes, set a predetermined contact person and meeting place, as recommended by the CDC. This is the person that everyone will call to check in with if there is a problem, and a place where family is directed to meet if they are separated during a disaster. If both of these are planned ahead of time, you will be more likely to find each other in a timely manner.
5. Important Documents
If your home is destroyed or inaccessible in a natural disaster, you’re going to need some basic documents. Make copies of your:
- Birth certificates
- Insurance policies
- Proof of address
- Medication list
- Credit cards
- Driver’s license
And any other important documents, and put them in a safe place.
Remember, disaster preparedness is about having a common-sense approach to what could happen, not about panicking. With these tips, you can be well prepared, without making yourself crazy.