September is National Preparedness Month. The landfall of Hurricane Hermine and tropical storms, as well as recent flooding events have solidified the need of planning for emergencies.
What’s in your disaster planning toolbox? Understanding what you need to keep you and your family safe in a disaster requires a plethora of tools. It’s all about the planning to be ready. Here are some tips:
Awareness – Stay aware of weather forecasts in your area. Use a weather radio or phone updates linked with your local radio/TV station. There are more ways than ever to stay up-to-date on inclement weather.
Make the blueprints – Come up with plans for either staying or evacuating during bad weather. Obviously that decision is on a case-by-case basis, but any evacuation plan should be drawn up and understood by all family members, Having a rehearsal is key, especially with kids. A rehearsal will hopefully reduce at least a small amount of stress during a crisis.
Build the box - For either evacuating or staying, emergency kits should contain food, water, clothes and medicines for 72 hours. The Red Cross even sells emergency kits on their website – redcrossstore.org. Everyone in the family should know the location of his or her kit, as well as its contents. Hopefully you will never have to use your kits, but if you do, familiarity will be helpful. Other items the Red Cross recommends: flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, blanket, multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, toilet paper/paper towels, and extra cash.
Family plans - If you are not with your family during a crisis, stay in touch with them and discuss your plans. If your kids attend school, make sure you know the school’s emergency plan. Got pets? Make sure you have a kit for your pet(s). If you are a caregiver or have elderly family members not living with you, have a plan for each person. That may include a variety of information, especially communication.
Make the most of your phone – Your cell phone/smartphone not only can help you track weather. The Red Cross also recommends having a map of your area and family and emergency contact information. Make sure you have apps to stay aware. Don’t forget your chargers!
Get your paperwork in order – Put a copy of your insurance and homeowner policies on a flash drive. Put that drive into your disaster kit. If you keep your important paperwork in fireproof boxes, make sure you know the location of the boxes and any required keys.