How prepared are you and your family for disasters or emergencies? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designates National Preparedness Month as a time to assess and prepare for a number of possible situations: floods, wildfires, severe storms like tornados and hurricanes, and prolonged power outages from natural disasters.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than half – only about 46% of people – think a natural disaster is likely to happen within their community. The reality is that most people will experience the impacts of some natural event year to year.
“Understand the most likely natural disasters for your area, and take steps in advance to weather them safely,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council. “Prepare by assembling an emergency kit with essentials. Monitor news and weather for impending events. Be prepared to take cover or evacuate when appropriate. Stay engaged online with related websites and social media pages during a disaster.”
Be prepared for prolonged loss of power. If you have a portable generator, make sure you know how to use it safely. Place it safely away from the home. Never run a generator inside or near windows.
Floods and power outages can affect local water supplies, so keep at least three days of drinking water in your emergency kit. Your supplies should also include non-perishable food and any needed openers, a radio or weather radio, and flashlight with extra batteries. Don’t forget first aid and other medical essentials, and depending on season, extra blankets and seasonal items.
Once your kit has been assembled, it’s time to create or review your family’s emergency communication plan. Know how each of you will stay safe and get in touch if you’re not together when disaster strikes. Establish a meeting place if separated during a disaster. Include measures for pets in your emergency plans.
Keep up-to-date with current public health and safety emergency plans in your community. Keep a list of emergency services phone numbers. Consider getting involved with community programs that help others prepare to stay safe.
“Since natural disasters can quickly and seriously impact quality of life and health, proper planning and preparation is key to staying safe,” Hall concludes. Impacts on drinking water and air quality, environmental contamination, are all considerations when it comes to being ready before disaster strikes.”