Many assume that a natural disaster will never strike. Yet fires, floods, tornados and hurricanes ravage thousands of business and homes every year. With natural disasters on the rise, everyone should have an emergency preparedness plan. Avoid panic in an emergency by having a plan in place to ensure that everyone knows their part. Here are a few things to have covered.
Depending on your location, you may be more prone to some disasters than others. You’ll need to take different steps for a wildfire than for a tornado or flood. Learn which disasters are most common in your area. Teach all in the business or home the dangers of each, how they might hear about them, and how to react if they strike unexpectedly.
Plan for shelter or escape.
In some severe cases, you may need to take shelter in your location or escape from it. Know where the safe shelter spots are, and document at least two exits to quickly leave, including egress from an upper floor, on a floorplan that includes an immediate meeting point outside. Map local evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations for the home, workplaces, and schools.
Prepare an emergency kit
Emergency kits should contain all emergency essentials that you need to survive the first 36 hours. Include the following:
Water Include a gallon of water per person per day (store in sealed, unbreakable containers and replace every six months).
Emergency food supply Store non-perishable survival foods. If using cans, include a non-electric can opener. Make sure you also store pet food, if necessary.
Lights and radio Include a lantern, radio, and flashlight for each adult family member. Make sure that these are battery powered and ideally include a hand-crank. Keep a supply of spare batteries.
Medical kit Keep a well-stocked first aid kit, including any prescription medications.
Clothes Prepare a change of clothes for each family member. Include rain gear; strong, waterproof shoes or boots; and sleeping bags.
Money Keep a moderate supply of cash and spare credit cards.
Transport Keep an extra set of car keys, and ensure that you always have at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle (preferably a full one).
Tools Keep a basic toolset, including a sharp knife, wrench and pliers.
Miscellaneous disaster preparedness supplies Additional supplies to have ready include: a whistle to signal for help; spare glasses and/or contact lens solution; books, puzzles and games for children; water disinfecting tablets; feminine hygiene supplies, fire extinguisher; lighter and/or matches in a waterproof container; mess kits (cutlery, plates, paper napkins.); mobile phone portable charger or power back.
Documents Have a cache of important documents handy. Keeping encrypted versions in the cloud and on a flash drive is a good idea, but ensure that you have hard copies stored in a waterproof folder. These should include: local maps, emergency contacts, medical information including prescriptions and where to get more of them, banking, insurance and other financial information (check FEMA’s emergency financial first aid kit or FEMA's financial preparedness toolkit for more details), identity and (where appropriate) immigration information.
Keep everything current
Check emergency preparedness kits every three months to ensure that nothing has expired (including water, batteries and medication), and always keep your contacts and maps updated. Also, ensure that any assistive devices such as power wheelchairs or hearing aids are always fully charged.
Your emergency management plan should come as second nature. Practice it with drills every six months. Remember, it’s always best to be over prepared than underprepared.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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