According to experts, 9 out of 10 people have done nothing significant to prepare for a home emergency. And you probably won’t do anything after reading this article but at least finish reading it. You may at least remember what you need when you’re at the local hardware and grocery store scrambling with 100s of other people for the few precious supplies on the shelves. It might get you into the checkout line in front of a few other people.
This article expands on a similar article (Prepare Yourself for a Weather Disaster) that followed the hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast areas. Fortunately, most of us will never be confronted with a powerful hurricane but all of us are susceptible to some type of emergency that could leave our families fending for ourselves for a week or more. California is notorious for earthquakes, the Pacific Northwest has several active volcanoes, and the Central US is known as tornado alley. Preparing for a home emergency begins by knowing the types of disasters we are most likely to face.
Hurricanes, forest fires, floods, volcanoes, Tsunamis, and other disasters come with a warning to evacuate. Make sure you know the primary evacuation route and have an alternative if the primary is too congested or unpassable. Identify how local authorities will notify you before and during a disaster and how you will get information and updates, whether through local radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels. If local authorities maintain a telephone tree or text-messaging list, make sure you are on it.
Also have a mobile food supply and emergency kit ready to go at a moment’s notice. Being exceptionally prepared includes having a plan for your most prized possessions but those come after lifesaving requirements. Ideally, all of the adults and older teenagers in your family are trained in CPR and first aid. If not all adults, make sure one or two are trained. This training is available from your local fire department or Red Cross.
Do the same in case you have to evacuate from a location other than your home. Know the evacuation routes from where you work and other places you frequent. Have emergency supplies in your car or at work. This is a particularly important scenario for having multiple methods for loved ones to be able to check in with each other.
These include winter storms that can rip a hole in your roof or break windows, house fires, and power outages. Power outages caused by winter storms affect almost all of us at some time. Not many of us know how to start a fire for warmth and cooking with a few pieces of wet wood so it’s best having backup plans. Fortunately, winter storms come with ample warning to fill the car gas tank, draw cash from the ATM, and stock up on batteries before the power goes out. Use that early warning to charge the electronic devises you don’t think you can live without for a day or two. Especially medical devices – have a backup plan. Have a source for ice to keep refrigerated foods from spoiling.
Know how to manually open your electric garage door before the power goes out. There are so many resources telling you to have water and nonperishable foods on hand that I won’t bother with the emergency list but do make sure you have a manual can opener for those nonperishable foods. For other tech preparedness tips in the event of a power outage, check out FEMA’s Get Tech Ready site.
Seniors and those with disabilities have special needs. Major disasters can disrupt the mail for weeks. Many seniors still depend on the mail to deliver benefit checks. Now is a good time to see if you can get them to switch to electronic delivery. Along with an emergency supply of medicines, keep on hand a copy of prescriptions, dosages, and treatment information. If they are undergoing regular medical treatments, talk to the provider about emergency alternatives. If the person is isolated and depends on outside services such as meal delivery, put a plan B in place. Some seniors and disabled people require special transportation resources in the event of an evacuation. Be sure that plan is in place.
If you are someone that has an emergency kit, don’t forget to maintain it:
There is a lot to consider when it comes to emergency preparedness. How about sharing your thoughts and insights below?
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 10 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.